Melissa Polusny



I received my BA in Psychology from the College of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN), graduating Magna Cum Laude. I received my PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno and completed my clinical internship at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System. I am a licensed psychologist and clinician investigator at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System where I serve as a Core Investigator in the Center for Care Delivery & Outcomes Research (CCDOR), a VA Health Services Research & Development (HSR&D) Center of Innovation as well as serve as a member of the Adaptive Design & Engineering (MADE) Program. I am a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences who studies traumatic stress and resilience in military service members and veterans. My current research, funded by NCCIH, focuses on developing an integrated, multilevel model of resilience to guide the development of intervention strategies for at-risk populations. My research has also examined risk and resilience factors associated with mental health outcomes in Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with a special emphasis on the longitudinal course of military-related PTSD. I am Program Director of the Service to Science Scholars Research Program, a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative funded by the VA’s Office of Research and Development, which provides student Veterans, military-connected students, and those traditionally underrepresented in science with an intensive 10-week mentored research experience.


  • Behavioral interventions
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Prolonged Exposure Therapy
  • Longitudinal methods to study risk and resilience trajectories of post-traumatic psychopathology and positive adaptation

Research Summary

My research program (continuously funded for over 15 years by Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, and National Institutes of Health/National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health) focuses on processes contributing to risk and resilience following traumatic stress among National Guard service members and their families. Currently, I direct the Readiness and Resilience in National Guard Soldiers (RINGS)/Advancing Research on Mechanisms of Resilience (ARMOR) Research Laboratory at the Minneapolis VA and the UMN. 

Clinical Summary

I serve as a staff psychologist in the Mental Health Service Line at the Minneapolis VA where I conduct assessment and treatment of Veterans, with a particular focus on those with trauma-related conditions. Within the VA system, I also served for over a decade (2008-2019) as a national trainer and consultant for the VA’s initiative to disseminate prolonged exposure therapy for PTSD.

Professional Memberships

Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy
International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
American Psychological Association
Selected Publications

Selected Publications

Polusny, M. A., & Erbes, C. R., 2023. A dynamic, multilevel approach to conceptualising and designing resilience research in the context of military stress. Stress and Health,
Polusny, M. A., Erbes, C. R., Kramer, M. D., Thuras, P., DeGarmo, D., Koffel, E., ... & Arbisi, P. A., 2017. esilience and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms in national guard soldiers deployed to Iraq: A prospective study of latent class trajectories and their predictors. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 30 (4): 351-361.
Erbes, C. R., Kramer, M., Arbisi, P. A., DeGarmo, D., & Polusny, M. A., Characterizing spouse/partner depression and alcohol problems over the course of military deployment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 85 (4): 297-308.
Polusny, M. A., Erbes, C. R., Thuras, P., Moran, A., Lamberty, G. J., Collins, R. C., Rodman, J. L., & Lim, K. O., 2015. Mindfulness-based stress reduction for posttraumatic stress disorder among veterans: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA, 314 (5): 456-465.
Polusny, M. A., Erbes, C. R., Murdoch, M., Arbisi, P. A., Thuras, P., & Rath, M. B., 2011. Prospective risk factors for new-onset post-traumatic stress disorder in National Guard soldiers deployed to Iraq. Psychological Medicine, 41 (4): 687-698.
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Polusny, M. A., Kehle, S. M., Nelson, N. W., Erbes, C. R., Arbisi, P. A., & Thuras, P., 2011. Longitudinal effects of mild traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder comorbidity on postdeployment outcomes in national guard soldiers deployed to Iraq. Archives of General Psychiatry, 68 (1): 79-89.



One Veterans Drive, Minneapolis, MN 55417