Sarah Meshberg-Cohen, PhD

Assistant Professor

Research Organizations

Psychiatry: Psychology Section

Faculty Research

Research Summary

Sarah Meshberg-Cohen, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist with a background in behavioral medicine, and specializes in the treatment of substance use disorders, chronic depression, anxiety disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, and dual diagnosis. Dr. Meshberg-Cohen’s clinical work utilizes evidence-based treatments, including cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement, and interpersonal therapy including cognitive behavioral analysis system of psychotherapy (CBASP). Her research focuses on improving EBTs for substance use disorders and co-occurring psychiatric disorders.

Extensive Research Description

My primary research interest involves the field of addictions, with a specific focus on health and psychiatric problems co-occurring with substance use disorders (SUD), disability compensation for Veterans, and gender issues related to SUDs. I have dedicated my work to exploring, developing and enhancing evidence-based treatments targeting the unique experiences of individuals presenting with co-occurring SUD, trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Consequently, there is a great deal of overlap between my clinical work and research interests.

I obtained a NIH/NIDA grant and a VCU Institute for Women’s Health grant investigating whether Expressive Writing could augment treatment for women seeking SUD treatment, with an emphasis on co-occurring trauma and dual-diagnoses. I have also participated in randomized clinical trials (RCTs) examining treatments for use with addictive disorders and co-occurring diagnoses. I have explored both separately and collectively, the health consequences of dual SUD/trauma states. I continue to publish and work on projects that build from my previous work in addiction research and trauma disclosure with SUD women, while also examining trauma disclosure among male Veterans with SUDs.

Since coming to the VA, I have become increasingly invested in research involving disability compensation for Veterans’ with substance use and mental health conditions. This interest was sparked from working closely with trauma and addictions in my clinical practice at the VA, as there has been a significant increase in Compensation and Pension (C&P) claims for mental health related disability among Veterans over the past several years.

My role as Director of Admissions within the VACHS Outpatient Addiction Recovery Services as well as my clinical work and research in treating individuals with co-occurring addictions and trauma, has led to increased interest in improving treatment engagement and adherence for returning service members. To this end, I am involved in research examining the role of PTSD C&P claims on Veterans’ overall treatment engagement, quality of life, and mental health outcomes. This work has resulted in publications on Veterans’ attitudes towards work and disability and its association with substance use, and on therapeutic encounters after C&P exams. I am also interested in the evaluation and treatment of SUDs among Veterans with PTSD Service-Connection Claims.

Selected Publications

Full List of PubMed Publications

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