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VISN 1 MIRECC Staff: J. Irene Harris, Ph.D.

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J. Irene Harris, Ph.D.

Dr. J. Irene Harris is a licensed Psychologist at the VA Bedford HealthCare System, and a clinician-investigator for the VISN1 Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC). Dr. Harris is an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Department of Psychiatry. In addition to her research, Dr. Harris serves on several national advisory committees on serious mental illness and recovery oriented care, including the VA’s National Recovery Workgroup, the American Psychological Association Task Force on Serious Mental Illness and Serious Emotional Disorders, and chairs the VA’s Mental Health Lived Experience Community of Practice.
Most of Dr. Harris’s research is focused on spiritually integrated care for PTSD and moral injury. She specializes in leading randomized clinical trials and held leadership roles on at least 5 clinical trials involving spiritually integrated care. She has developed the Building Spiritual Strength program, one of the most used moral injury interventions in the VA system.   In addition to work in this area, Dr. Harris has published in the literatures on addiction, peer support, pain, and stigmad services.


  • Bach. of Music, Wilkes University, 1984
  • M.Ed., Music Education, College of St. Rose,  1992
  • M.S., Rehabilitation Counseling, State University of New York, 1997
  • Ph.D., Counseling Psychology, Texas Tech University, 2001

Areas of Research Interest

  • Moral injury and PTSD
  • Spiritually Integrated Care
  • Peer Support
  • Mental Health Stigma
  • Chronic Pain

Projects & Grants

  • Engaging VA Chaplains to Identify Veterans Affected by Moral Injury
    The goal of this project is to create a spiritual assessment that will assist chaplains in identifying and serving Veterans who are managing symptoms of moral injurys. 2019 – 2021.
  • Peer Enhanced Exposure Therapy
    Goal: Develop and provide an initial feasibility test of an adjunctive peer support intervention to reduce dropout in exposure therapies. 2016 – 2018.
  • Environmental vs. Developmental Models of Moral Injury
    Goals: Assess potential predictors of moral injury in longitudinal survey, to compare different theories of the etiology of moral injury. 2018-2020.
  • Spirituality in Couples Managing PTSD
    Goals: Mixed methods study of the role that spiritual distress plays in dyadic adjustment when one member of the couple is a veteran managing PTSD. 2016-2018.
  • Testing Spiritual Support Groups for Veteran Trauma Survivors
    Goals: Complete a randomized clinical trial of a spiritually integrated group counseling protocol for moral injury compared to Present Centered Group Therapy. 2013-2016.

Dr. Harris' Google Scholar Profile


Mehmet Sofuoglu, M.D., Ph.D.

Megan M. Kelly, Ph.D.
VISN 1 New England MIRECC Co-Director

Erin D. Reilly, M.Ed., Ph.D.
Director for Education

Richard Carson, LCSW
Administrative Officer
203-932-5711 Ext. 4338