Onawa LaBelle

Dr. Onawa LaBelle

Associate Professor of Psychology

Associate Professor Onawa LaBelle holds a PhD and MA from the University of Michigan and BA from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, all in Psychology. A first-generation university student, she took time off after high school and re-entered academia by attending Holyoke Community College in Massachusetts where she earned an AA in Liberal Arts and Sciences before transferring to Smith College. In addition to her formal education, LaBelle has held internships and research assistantships at Harvard Medical School, Mount Holyoke College, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

In her scholarly work, Dr. LaBelle draws heavily upon positive psychology in her study of social relationships and recovery from Alcoholism and Substance Use Disorder. She is particularly interested in examining the social origins of addiction and the parallel between the use of social support programs as a pathway to recovery (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, Refuge Recovery, SMART recovery). LaBelle currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Recovery Science.

At Michigan, where LaBelle received the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, she taught personality psychology and served on the Diversity Committee to help coordinate and facilitate annual diversity recruitment events and mentoring luncheons at national conferences. As part of her role on the diversity committee, LaBelle independently traveled to campuses across the United States to recruit graduate students from diverse backgrounds for the Psychology program at the University of Michigan. 

LaBelle has also facilitated a women’s health seminar at the Central University for Tibetan Studies in Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh, India, while studying Buddhism with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and 25,000 Buddhist monks and nuns. 

Dr. LaBelle is a self-identified Indigenous Person with paternal ancestry tracing back to one of the first Métis families in Quebec and maternal ancestry connected to the Mahican community from the Berkshire region of western Massachusetts. Dr. LaBelle’s great-grandparents immigrated to the United States from Canada and she is quite pleased to be returning to the motherland. 

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