Sara L. Dolan, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and Graduate Program Director, Psy.D. program (Core Clinical Faculty)
High Res Photo

Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
Graduate Program Director, Psy.D. Program


Postdoctoral Fellowship, Center for Alcohol & Addiction Studies, Brown University

Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, University of Iowa, 2004

Clinical Internship, Division of Substance Abuse, Yale University School of Medicine

M.A., Clinical Psychology, University of Iowa, 1998

B.S., Psychology, Indiana University, 1996


Dr. Dolan joined the Baylor faculty in 2007, after serving as a National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism-funded Postdoctoral Fellow and subsequently a National Cancer Institute-funded faculty member at the Brown University Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies. While at Brown, she also served as a Research Scientist at the Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center, as well as the Assessment Coordinator at Psychological Associates, in Warwick, RI. Prior to that, she earned her B.S. degree in psychology from Indiana University, followed by both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Clinical Psychology from the University of Iowa. She then completed her clinical internship at Yale University, in the Division of Substance Abuse. In her spare time, she can be found serving as an alumnae advisor for her sorority on campus, at a Baylor football or men's basketball game, traveling, or volunteering in the community.

Academic Interests and Research

Interests: Neuropsychological functioning and substance abuse treatment, as well as diagnosis and treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

My research is focused on neuropsychological function in persons with substance abuse and other impulse-control disorders. I am interested in how neuropsychological dysfunction, including problems with memory and executive functions, is related to etiology of substance use disorders, as well as how these issues affect substance abuse treatment process and outcome. I am currently conducting research on whether executive dysfunction predicts substance abuse treatment failure in a population of non-psychotic substance dependent individuals, which has led to my interest in the development of novel behavioral treatments for these patients, based on their individual neuropsychological profiles (i.e., patient-treatment matching). My proposed targeted behavioral treatment for cognitively-impaired substance abusers focuses traditional cognitive behavioral treatment on a small number of concrete, efficacious relapse prevention coping skills. The hypothesis for this program is that cognitively impaired substance abusers may have more difficulty acquiring and using the coping skills that they are taught in treatment because those skills may be too complex and abstract. However, more concrete behavioral skills that are repeated and role-played so that they become overlearned may enhance treatment outcomes.

A second area of research, which is just beginning, is the diagnosis and treatment of the comorbidity between PTSD and TBI. Because the symptoms and causes of these two disorders overlap to such a degree (for example, a blast injury sustained while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan could cause both of these disorders), the differential diagnosis is not well understood. In addition, once a TBI that may impair cognitive function, including attention, memory, and executive functions, is present, its effects on psychotherapeutic treatment are also not well understood. Our lab is working toward developing an understanding of this complex and all-too-common comorbidity.

Selected Publications

Shenassa, E.D., Dolan, S.L., Wilhelm, C.S., & Buka, S.L. (under review). Childhood antecedents of problem gambling: A 40 year longitudinal population based study.

Gartner, A., Dolan, S., Elkins, G., & Stanford, M. (under review). Case study: Neuropsychological assessment and hypnotherapy intervention for possible Morgellon's Disease with depression and anxiety. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology.

Spirito, A. & Brown University Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies Postdoctoral Fellows (in press). The Alcohol Education Inventory - Revised: What every mental health professional needs to know about alcohol. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.

Dolan, S.L., Bechara, A., & Nathan, P.E. (2008). Executive dysfunction as a risk marker for substance abuse: The role of impulsive personality traits. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 26, 799-822.

Dolan, S.L., Rohsenow, D. J., & Martin, R.A. (2008). Self-Efficacy for Cocaine Abstinence: Pretreatment Correlates and Relationships to Treatment Outcomes. Addictive Behaviors, 33, 675-688.

Dolan, S.L., Sacco, K., Termine, A., Seyal, A.A., Dudas, M.M., Vessicchio, J.C., Wexler, B.E., & George, T.P. (2004). Neuropsychological deficits predict treatment failure during smoking cessation in patients with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research, 70, 263-275.

George, T.P., Seyal, A.A., Dolan, S.L., Dudas, M.D., Termine, A., & Vessicchio, J.C. (2002). Nicotine addiction and schizophrenia: A clinical approach. Primary Psychiatry, 9, 48-53.

Bechara, A., Dolan, S., & Hindes, A. (2002). Decision-making and addiction (part II): myopia for the future or hypersensitivity to reward? Neuropsychologia, 40, 1690-1705.

Bechara, A., Dolan, S.L., Denburg, N. L., Hindes, A., Anderson, S. W. & Nathan, P. E. (2001). Decision making deficits, linked to a dysfunctional orbitofrontal cortex, revealed in alcohol and stimulant abusers. Neuropsychologia, 39, 376-89.

Nathan, P.E., Stuart, S., & Dolan, S.L. (2000). Research on psychotherapy efficacy and effectiveness: Between Scylla and Charybdis? Psychological Bulletin, 126, 964-981.


Dolan, S.L. (2004). Addiction. In A. Christensen, R, Martin & J. Smyth (Eds.). Encyclopedia of Health Psychology. New York: Kluwer Academic Publishing.

Dolan, S.L. (2004). Alcoholism. In A. Christensen, R. Martin & J. Smyth (Eds.). Encyclopedia of Health Psychology. New York: Kluwer Academic Publishing.

Nathan, P.E., Stuart, S., & Dolan, S.L. (2003). Research on psychotherapy efficacy and effectiveness: Between Scylla and Charybdis? In A Kazdin (Ed.). Methodological issues and strategies in clinical research, 3rd ed. (pp. 505-546). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Dolan, S.L. & Nathan, P.E. (2001) When one marital partner is an alcoholic. In J. Harvey & A. Wenzel (Eds.). Maintaining and enhancing close relationships: A clinician's guide. Pp. 215-229. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers.

Nathan, P. E., Skinstad, A. H., & Dolan, S.L. (2001). Alcoholism: Psychopathology, etiology, and treatment. In P.B. Sutker & H.E. Adams (Eds.). Comprehensive handbook of psychopathology. (3rd edition), pp. 595-622. New York: Plenum Press.

Nathan, P. E., Skinstad, A. H., & Dolan, S.L. (2000). Clinical Psychology II: Psychological treatments: Research and practice. In K. Pawlik & M.R. Rosenzweig (Eds.). International handbook of psychology. pp. 429-451. London: SAGE Ltd.

Recent Psy.D. Graduates

Anthony Giardina, Marist College
Sean McGowan, Notre Dame University
Laura Sejud, University of Colorado, Boulder
Samantha Collum, Connecticut College
Lauren Greenberg, University of California, Los Angeles
Justine Grosso, Rutgers University
Lauren Farwell, Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, University of Texas
Katherine L'Esperance, St. Johns University
Kelsi Clayson, University of California, Los Angeles

Current Psy.D. Students

Halle Ross, Baylor University
Jules Martowski, Skidmore College
Hillary Warrington, University of Tennessee - Chattanooga, Lipscomb University
Alexis Humenik, Baylor University, George Washington University
Lindsay Lange, Carleton College, Texas A&M San Antonio

Ph.D. Graduate

Sarah Martindale, Saint Edward's University

Current Ph.D. Student

Meilin Jia-Richards, University of Washington

Courses taught at Baylor

  • PSY 1305 - Introductory Psychology
  • PSY 3330 - Psychopathology
  • PSY 4327 - Theories of Personality
  • PSY 5431 - Psychological Assessment I: Intellectual and Cognitive
  • PSY 5432 - Psychological Assessment II: Personality
  • PSY 5433 - Psychological Assessment III: Neuropsychology
  • PSY 5316 - Clinical Psychopathology
  • PSY 4V96 and NSC 4V96 - Neuropsychology Research