Joshua R. Novak Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Joshua R. Novak headshot
Mentoring Statement

Accepting new graduate students: Yes

Accepting new undergraduate students: Yes


ARTF #1, 268
570 Devall 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) in Systemic Therapy
• Process Research in MFT
Courses Taught
HDFS 7640       Couples and Sex Therapy
HDFS 7670       Individual, Couple, and Family Dynamics of Addiction
HDFS 7680       Diagnosis, Assessment, and Treatment
HDFS 7660       Systemic Impact of Illness, MedFT, and Psychopharmacology 
HDFS 7920       Practicum in Marriage & Family Therapy 

American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) Research and Education Foundation; Outstanding Research Publication Award: Bioregulation and the MFT, 2022
Auburn HDFS Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching and Research, 2021
• 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,” 2019
• Issues in Aging Focus Group Award (NCFR): “Associations between Economic Pressure and Physical
Health in Later Life Marriages,” 2017
Research Focus
Director of the Relationships and Health Lab

Primary Contribution #1: Family as the Proximal Context for Health Behavior Change and Illness Management Broadly speaking, my research focuses on the nexus of family relationships and health, with a large focus on couple relationships in general health behaviors and health outcomes in specific disease contexts. My work has sought to make both theoretical and empirical contributions that underscore the family as the proximal context for both behavior change and illness management. 

Primary Contribution #2: Health Behaviors and The Link between Cognitive, Emotional, and Social Health in Therapy Contexts
Clinically, and as an offshoot of my main line, I have proposed novel frameworks for how health behaviors—diet (Novak et al., 2021), sleep (Novak & Gillis, 2021), and exercise (Novak & Ellis, 2021)—affect the cognitive, emotional, and relational health of clients. This collection of conceptual papers is the first articulation in the field of why and how the MFT should attend to issues of sleep, diet, and physical activity and covers information on assessment, psychoeducation, scripts for how to convey information to clients, how to attend to barriers, and collaboration with proper professionals. Finally, and importantly, these papers provide recommendations for clinical training and education as well as specific questions for future research. These papers hope to stimulate new areas of inquiry that can identify where clients’ levels of sleep, diet, and exercise might be maximized to boost and further improve therapy outcomes. This line will branch into evaluating therapy outcomes with a focus of these in treatment (with 2-3 manuscripts in progress).  
Research Projects
1. Health Status and Behavior Concordance among Couples with Type 2 Diabetes
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.

2. Psychological, Physical, and Relational Correlates of Type 2 Diabetes Family Members
The present project focuses to understand the specific psychological, physical, and relational experiences of family members of an individual with type 2 diabetes.

3. Couples and Sleep
This project explores relational dynamics, sleep hygiene practices, and psychological and physical health of couples.

4. Health Attitudes and Beliefs in Same-Sex Couples
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 management.

5. Health Behavior Concordance and Health Support Concordance in Couple Relationships
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).
Selected Publications
Novak, J. R., August, K., Wei, M.*, Peak, T, Gast, J., & Miyairi, M. (accepted). Examining Exercise Specific Relational Processes on Exercise, Emotional Distress, and Relationship Quality among Heterosexual and Gay Male Couples. Journal of Health Psychology (65%; IF= 4.917).

Wilson, S. J., Novak, J. R., Yorgason, J. B., Martire, L. M., & Lyons, K. S. (in press). Defining and Advancing the State of Dyadic Health Science. The Gerontologist, gnac187. Advance online publication.

Novak, J. R., Wilson, S. J., Ermer, A. E., & Harper, J. M. (2022). Aging Together: Dyadic Profiles of Older Couples’ Marital Quality, Psychological Well-Being, and Physical Health. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

Novak, J. R., Pratt, K., Hernandez, D. C., & Berge, J. M. (2022). Family Systems and Obesity: A review of key concepts and influences within and between family subsystems and a call for Family-Informed Interventions. Journal of Family Theory & Review.

Novak, J. R., August, K., Kavookjian, J., Whitely, H., & Burnett, D. O. (2022). Exploring Typologies of Type 2 Family Members’ Illness Appraisals, Involvement, and Psychological Distress. Journal of Health Psychology

August, K., Novak, J. R., Peak, T, Gast, J., & Miyairi, M. (2022). Examining Foodwork and Eating Behaviors Between and Among Heterosexual and Gay Couples. Appetite.

Wilson, S. J., & Novak, J. R. (2021). 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

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.

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