Sarah Bilsky

Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology

Sarah Bilsky is a clinical psychologist and an Assistant Professor at the University of Mississippi. She currently teaches graduate and undergraduate courses, mentors graduate and undergraduate students, and supervises clinical students.

Research Interests

Dr. Bilsky’s research is focused on understanding familial processes that increase risk for parent and adolescent psychopathology and substance use. Specifically, she integrates clinical and developmental science to examine factors that increase risk for the development of anxiety and related disorders as well as substance misuse (e.g., cigarette smoking, alcohol use). Her research program spans several stages of development (i.e., childhood, adolescence, and adulthood) although the primary focus of her work is the development and maintenance of these issues among adolescents and their parents.


Sarah Bilsky CV


Objective: According to the reward- stress dysregulation model of addiction and parenting, parenting stress may play a critical role in the etiology and maintenance of substance misuse. To date, limited work has examined how parenting stress may relate to hazardous alcohol use among mothers of adolescents. The present study examined if parenting stress interacted with maternal stress responses (i.e., disengagement coping, involuntary disengagement stress responses) in relation to maternal hazardous alcohol use. Method: Two hundred and fifty-three mothers (n = 147 hazardous alcohol users; 58% of the sample) of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 16 years participated in the current study. Mothers were recruited using Qualtrics panel services. Mothers reported on their parenting stress, strategies for managing parenting stress, and use of alcohol. Mothers also reported basic demographic information (Mage = 41.10 years, 86.6% identified as white, 81.1% of mothers were married). Interaction analyses were used to test hypotheses. Results: Maternal parenting stress interacted with maternal involuntary disengagement stress responses in relation to maternal hazardous alcohol use, such that at average and high levels of disengagement stress responses, parenting stress was associated with hazardous alcohol use. These results were robust to covariates (i.e., family income, maternal anxiety symptoms, maternal depressive symptoms, general levels of maternal stress, maternal cigarette use). Maternal disengagement coping strategies were not related to maternal hazardous alcohol use. Conclusion: Results suggest that parenting stress and involuntary disengagement stress responses may be associated with hazardous alcohol use among mothers of adolescents.


B.A. Psychology, Vanderbilt University (2011)

M.A. Psychology, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville (2016)

Ph.D. Psychology, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville (2019)