College of Public Health

Holly Matto, PhD, MSW

Associate Professor, Department of Social Work
Mason Arts Research Center (ARC)

PhD, Social Work, University of Maryland | MSW, University of Michigan

Key Interests
Intervention Research | Substance Use Disorders | Recovery Cue Paradigm | Neuroscience | Social Work | Mobile Recovery Support Systems
Phone: 703-993-6107 | Email:

Research Focus

I conduct clinical intervention research that examines the effects of integrating creative arts into traditional behavioral health treatment for a variety of clinical populations. Over the past five years I have been working with colleagues on the development of a wearable device to manage stimulus cues and reduce drug relapse by detecting neurophysiological reactivity and delivering a device-activated personalized real-time intervention. Developing real-time interventions that help patients monitor their biobehavioral state and strategically deliver personalized patient-specific recovery cues to manage drug stimuli reactivity in real-time and in natural environments, may help manage craving and reduce relapse risk post-treatment. We are currently expanding our “recovery cue paradigm” to include larger systems of care and communities of recovery, using mathematical modeling to estimate “recovery contagion” and how recovery interventions can accelerate the spread of recovery within communities, post-institutionalization.

Current Projects

■ We believe that our current “recovery cue” paradigm has significant potential for intervention with those who have experienced trauma. Our new project will examine this recovery model that seeks to incorporate technology-based solutions for community-dwelling symptom management and sustained healing post-discharge. The broad aim of our mobile recovery support system is to reduce avoidance symptomology and promote social integration back into the community after inpatient trauma services.

Select Publications

H. C. Matto et al., Harnessing the power of the recovering brain to promote recovery commitment and reduce relapse risk. Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research 9(2), 341-358 (2018).

H. C. Matto, Biobehavioral response redirection: innovations to activate personalized recovery cues and decrease relapse risk. End Note: Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions 15, 450-453 (2015).

H. C. Matto et al., Results from a music, imagery, and movement (MiM) treatment intervention in a long-term care facility. Families in Society 96(4), 277-283 (2015).

H. C. Matto et al., fMRI clinical trial of a dual – processing treatment protocol for substance-dependent adults. Research on Social Work Practice 24(6), 659-669 (2014).


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