Heidi M. Levitt, Ph.D.

Department of Psychology

Heidi M. Levitt, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Clinical Psychology program within the Department of Psychology at The University of Massachusetts Boston.  She is an Associate Editor for the journals Psychotherapy Research and Qualitative Psychology.  In addition, she is president-elect of the Society of Qualitative Inquiry in Psychology, section of Division 5 of APA (Quantitative and Qualitative Methods). She was awarded the Carmi Harari Research Award for Inquiry by the American Psychological Association’s Division 32 (Humanistic Psychology). Also, she has been awarded APA Fellow status and is Fellow of Division 29 [Psychotherapy], Division 32 [Society of Humanistic Psychology], and Division 44 [Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues].  

Psychotherapy Research

In her most longstanding program of research, Dr. Levitt has studied common factors such as significant moments, emotion, narrative, and silence within psychotherapy. She developed the Pausing Inventory Categorization System, which is a unique process measure in its grounding in qualitative research on clients’ experiences and having evidence of both client-rater and inter-rater reliability, an empirically derived sampling system, and associations with outcome in both efficacy and effectiveness databases.  As well, she has developed a line of qualitative psychotherapy research in which she has been strategically forming sets of empirically-based principles that guide therapists through critical issues common across therapy orientations. This work has made accessible clients’ internal experiences to guide therapists through conceptualizing and responding at decisional points within their sessions. 

LGBTQ Research

In addition, she has developed a multi-method program of research that has studied the construction and evolution of gender identities within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) cultures.   In this 20-year program of research, she has investigated the development and meanings of LGBTQ genders and the influence of these genders on issues such as discrimination and healthcare.  This body of work has been concerned with studying the historicity of these communities – examining how gender identities arise over time in relation to evolving social realities and the competing social understandings of gender (see Levitt & Ippolito, 2014 for an overview of this program of research).  It asks why certain LGBTQ gender identities coalesce and thrive at certain points in time.    

Qualitative Methods

Dr. Levitt has expertise in qualitative research methods and has made a number of significant contributions in this area, authoring the qualitative chapter for textbooks such as The Handbook of Clinical Psychology, and Humanistic Psychotherapies: Handbook of Research and Practice.  Currently, she is Chair of the Task Force on Publishing Qualitative Research of the Society of Qualitative Inquiry in Psychology, a section of the American Psychological Association’s Division 5 [Quantitative and Qualitative Methods].  She has been invited to create an APA film called, Recommendations for Reviewing Qualitative Research, to provide guidance for reviewers of APA journals via their Continuing Education Program  In addition, she is Chair of the working group to develop qualitative reporting standards for the upcoming edition of the APA Publication Manual, which will, for the first time, include guidelines for the reporting of qualitative methods in psychology.

Consultation and Trainings

She has had PI experience on mixed-methods and qualitative methods research grants and has acted as a qualitative methods consultant on numerous projects. She has has conducted invited workshops, taught graduate-level qualitative research methods courses and delivered invited lectures on these topics.   

More Information

Her curriculum vita, research interest statement, and publication links provide access to further information about her research.  For information on current research projects, please see the webpage for Applicants to the Clinical Psychology Graduate Program.  In addition to her research, Dr. Levitt supervises and teaches students to conduct experiential therapies and is a licensed psychologist. She adopts an integrative approach to psychotherapy practice that is rooted in constructivist and humanistic psychotherapy orientations.