Joshua R. Novak Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Joshua R. Novak headshot

Glanton House

Auburn University
312 Quad Drive
Auburn, AL 36849

(334) 844-4456




Fun Facts
Favorite books/Movies?
Lord of the Rings Books and anything therapist-y or neuroscience related…I’m such a nerd

Favorite quotes?
Keep close to Nature’s Heart…and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. –John Muir

Favorite Hobbies/Passions?
Cooking and baking-if I weren’t a professor/therapist…I’d love to be a chef. I love the creativity and the complexity that cooking good food allows. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll open up my own restaurant!

2016   Post-Doctoral Fellow, Kansas State University
2015   Ph.D. Brigham Young University, Marriage and Family Therapy
2012   M.S. Texas Tech University, Marriage and Family Therapy
2010   B.S. Anderson University, Psychology
Research Interests
• Couples and Chronic Illness Management
• Committed Relationships and Engagement in Health Behaviors
• Same-Sex Couples and health processes
• Bioregulation (sleep, exercise, & nutrition) on mental and physical health
• Process Research in MFT
Courses Taught
HDFS 7640       Couples and Sex Therapy
HDFS 7670       Individual, Couple, and Family Dynamics of Addiction, Recovery, and Treatment 
HDFS 7660       Systemic Impact of Illness, MedFT, and Psychopharmacology 
HDFS 7920       Practicum in Marriage & Family Therapy 

2019   Top 20 downloaded article in a Wiley Journal of 2017-2018: “Does personality matter in diabetes
      adherence?: Exploring the pathways between neuroticism and patient adherence in couples with
      type 2 diabetes.”
2017   Issues in Aging Focus Group Award (NCFR): “Associations between Economic Pressure and Physical
      Health in Later Life Marriages.”
2015   JMFT Outstanding Doctoral Apprentice Reviewer, Journal of Marital and Family Therapy
2014   Cutting Edge Poster Award (AAMFT): “The Impact of Technology on Face-to-Face Communication”
Research Focus
Director of the Relationships and Health Lab
My program of research is on the nexus of couple relationships and health behaviors, specifically with how couple processes might attenuate negative health outcomes. I also am interested in understanding how health and wellness (or lack of) influence relationship processes. I aim to understand these by studying how couple support processes (coping, communication, responsiveness, etc.) may help to improve engagement in healthy behaviors (such as diet, exercise, mindfulness, etc.) through improving emotional and mental health. Finally, I am passionately curious about the processes of change within therapy that can lead to positive therapy outcomes. I aim to understand the sequential unfolding of therapeutic interventions and how clients respond to them. 
Research Projects
Health Status and Behavior Concordance among Couples with Type 2 Diabetes (2020-2022) 
Grant from Auburn University Intramural Grants Program- Interdisciplinary Team Research Grant.  Novak, J. R. (PI), Frugé, A., Wadsworth, D., & Hunt, C. (Co-Is) 
Although much research has identified the ways romantic partners influence health behavior adherence in people living with type 2 diabetes, (provision of support or controlling behaviors), the lack of knowledge of the indirect mechanisms (i.e., health status and health behaviors of the partner) prevents sustainable health behavior change efforts. Additionally, because of the strain of caring for and helping manage the partner’s diabetes, the non-diabetic partner is at increased risk for developing their own health issues that can negatively influence the patient’s diabetes management and increase healthcare utilization for both members of the couple. Illuminating these mechanisms prevents informed development of programs that intervene at a dyadic level (both partners) and account for relational and contextual factors. The goal of this project is to address this need; specifically, this project aims to (1) model the health status and health behavior congruity as well as reciprocal influences between partners across time, (2) examine key ecological-level factors that moderate the influence of partner involvement and patient outcomes, and (3) predict the non-diabetic partner’s health and disease risk. The hypothesis is that the mechanisms underlying patient health behavior engagement are significantly related to the partner’s own health attitudes, health knowledge, health status, and engagement in health behaviors.    
The Diabetes Family Network: Online education and Intervention for families with diabetes (2020-2021) Planning Grant from the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station HATCH SEED. Novak, J.R. (PI) Since most of diabetes self-management occurs within the family environment, then many, if not all, of family processes and dynamics are impacted, including communication, roles and rules, leisure time and other activities is spent, all of which affect blood glucose and patient adherence to lifestyle changes. Not only are these dynamics significantly associated with patient outcomes, but family members themselves can be negatively impacted by diabetes management, not only in poorer interpersonal outcomes—such as increased conflict, role strain, and an impaired social life—but also in intrapersonal outcomes, including increased psychological and mental health problems that can lead to poorer physical health outcomes. In addition, because of the family patterns and dynamics around health behaviors and a shared living environment, the family member without diabetes is at an increased risk for developing diabetes or other metabolic conditions and diseases. To that end, education and psychosocial support for family members themselves is critical, not only to improve their support of the individual with diabetes, but to help buffer the impact on their own outcomes. Many studies demonstrate that family members across all social, ethnic, and age groups have not received adequate information to successfully help support the individual with diabetes. Family members express confusion about their role, how they can be helpful to the individual with diabetes, and even whether they are in a place to give advice that might conflict with physician orders. As such, the present project focuses to understand the specific experiences and needs of family members of an individual with type 2 diabetes.  
Healthy We, Healthy Us: Becoming Partners in Health (2020-2021)  Grant from Auburn University Women’s Philanthropy Board (WPB). Novak, J. R. (PI).  This project brings together information on the study of couple functioning in the context of a chronic health condition, efforts to provide supports for couples through couple-oriented interventions (COIs), and research on the general provision of couple relationship education (CRE). This pilot study will test a hybrid couples program, "Healthy We, Healthy Us: Becoming Partners in Health," that combines CRE modules and newly-developed COI modules that address health condition management in the couple relationship. Outcomes of interest center on health and health behaviors of both partners.   
Health Attitudes and Beliefs in Same-Sex Couples (ongoing) This project investigates dyadic attitudes toward health and how one’s own internal strategies in health management (intuitive eating and exercising) impacts their partners’ health and health management.  
Health Behavior Concordance and Health Support Concordance in Couple Relationships (ongoing) This project investigates how similar and/or different couples are in their engagement in healthy or unhealthy behaviors, including nutrition, exercise, sleep, sedentary behaviors, and risky behaviors (alcohol and drug use) as well as various relationship dynamics. 
Selected Publications
Wilson, S. J., & Novak, J. R. (in press). The Implications of Being “in it Together”: Relationship Satisfaction and Joint Health Behaviors Predict Better Health and Stronger Concordance between Partners. Annals of Behavioral Medicine (ISI impact factor = 4.908; 2020).

Novak, J. R., & Ellis, F.* (2021). A Framework for Incorporating Physical Activity in Treatment: Competencies, Guidelines, and Implications for Family Therapists. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy (ISI impact factor = 2.379; 2020).

Novak, J. R., Robinson, L. R.*, & Korn, L. E. (2021). What LMFTs Should Know About Nutrition, Mental Health, and Collaborative Care with Nutrition Professionals. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. (ISI impact factor = 2.379; 2020).

Fauth, E., Novak, J. R., & Levin, M. E. (2021). Outcomes from an Online Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Program for Dementia Family Caregivers. Aging & Mental Health. (Impact Factor = 3.658; 2020).

Novak, J. R. & Gillis, B.T.* (2021). A Primer on Sleep for MFTs: Implications and practical considerations. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. . (ISI impact factor = 2.379; 2020).

Aller, T. B.*, Fauth, E., Novak, J. R., & Schwartz, S. (2021). Measuring mental health literacy: Development of the Mental Health Awareness and Advocacy Assessment Tool (MHAA-AT) in a college sample. Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation, 17(39), 15-31.

Peak, T., Gast, J., & Novak, J. R. (2021). Caregiving and Caring with Pride: A thematic analysis of health behavior work among older gay married couples. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Social Services, 33(1), 123-136. (H index = 38)

Novak, J. R., Wilson, S. J., Gast, J., Miyairi, M., & Peak, T. (2021). Associations between Partner’s Diet Undermining and Poor Diet in Mixed-Weight, Gay Married Couples: A dyadic mediation model. Psychology & Health, 36(10), 1147-1164. (Impact Factor = 3.073; 2020). ¥Editor’s Choice Article.