Holly Matto, PhD, LCSW-C


Holly C. Matto, PhD, LCSW-C is a Professor in the Department of Social Work in the College of Public Health at Mason. Dr. Matto was at VCU School of Social Work for ten years prior to coming to Mason.  She has over 20 years of research and practice experience in the field of addiction science and has conducted treatment intervention studies with diverse clinical populations. Dr. Matto values interdisciplinary collaborations and has established research relationships with colleagues in social work, bioengineering, mathematics, visual and performing arts and others at Mason that have resulted in grant-funded projects. Over the past several years, she has been working to develop interventions that help clients monitor their biobehavioral state and deliver personalized regulation strategies. Recently, Dr. Matto led a team of researchers to examine the use of Virtual Reality (VR) simulations to build recovery-regulating interventions that minimize craving urges by modulating neurophysiological response to drug triggers using recovery cues (NIH STTR Grant 1 R41 DA 50225-01).  Her current work examines a user-designed digital recovery coach to manage substance craving, utilizing the research group’s recovery cue technology.  In addition, she is currently a core faculty member of the Center for Adaptive Systems of Brain-Body Interactions (CASBBI) at Mason (https://casbbi.gmu.edu/people) and is a faculty member with CASBBI’s NSF NRT where she mentors interdisciplinary graduate students in the program on their community-engaged research projects. 


Research Interests

  • Substance Use Treatment Intervention Research
  • Clinical Trials
  • Social Work & Neuroscience
  • Biobehavioral Health Wearables/Mobile Recovery Support Systems
  • Recovery Cue Paradigm
  • Community Health

Select Publications 

  • Matto, H. C., Ihara, E. S., Cieslowski, B., Hines, D., & Booth, J.  (2023).  Virtual reality case simulation to build skill competencies in working with substance-engaged clients. Social Work Education, https://doi.org/10.1080/02615479.2023.2289452

  • Goncalves*, S.F., Bates*, R., Acharya*, A., Izquierdo*, A., Matto, H., & Sikdar, S. (2023).  Negative Urgency Linked to Craving and Substance Use among Adults on Buprenorphine and/or Methadone.  The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 1-9. DOI 10.1007/s11414-023-09845-4

  • Dhokaia, N., Matto, H., Ihara, E.,Tompkins, C., Caswell, S. V., Cortes, N., Davis, R., Coogan*, S., Fauntroy, V. N., Glass, E., Lee* (Moon), J., Baraniecki-Zwila*, G., & Ambegaonkar, J. P.  (2023).  Community arts engagement supports perceptions of personal growth in older adults.  Journal of Aging Studies,66, 1011-42.

  • Ambegaonkar J.P., Matto H, Ihara E, Tompkins C, Caswell SV, Cortes N, Davis R, Coogan* S, Fauntroy V, Glass E, Lee* M, Baraniecki-Zwil* G, & Dhokai N. (2022) Dance, Music, and Social Conversation Program Participation Positively Affects Physical and Mental Health in Community-dwelling Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Dance Medicine & Science, 26(4):255-64.

  • Matto, H. C., Seshaiyer, P., Carmack, S., Peixoto, N, & Scherbel*, M.  (2021). When triggers become tigers:  Taming the Autonomic Nervous System via sensory support system modulation.  Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions. DOI: 10.1080/1533256X.2021.1973833

  • Matto, H. C., & Sullivan, K.  (2021). Ashes2Art:  Mitigation strategies for short-and long-term distress in emergency services personnel during COVID-19, Clinical Social Work Journal. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10615-021-00797-w

  • Matto H.C, Ihara E, Tompkins C., McNeil*, K., Lopez-Piper*, A., Eber*, M., Dhokai, N., Davis, R., Cortes, N., Caswell, S.V, Coogan, S, Fauntroy, V.N, Glass, E., Baraniecki Zwil, G. & Ambegaonkar, J.  (2021).  A novel participant-empowered pedagogical approach to engage and retain control group participants in arts-based Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs).  Families in Society, https://doi.org/10.1177/1044389421997356

  • Matto, H., Seshaiyer, P., Newcomb, A., Rothberg, S. & Lopez-Piper, A.  (2019). A novel mobile biobehavioral regulation system for personalized trauma recovery support. Patient Experience Journal 6, 83–92.

  • Matto, H. C., & Seshaiyer, P.  (2018). 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

  • Matto, H. C., Tompkins, C. J., Ihara, E. S., Inoue, M., & *Byrd, A.  (2015).  Results from a Music, Imagery, and Movement (MiM) treatment intervention in a long-term care facility.  Families in Society, 96(4), 277-283.

  • Matto, H. C.  (2015).  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.

  • Matto, H. C.,  Hadjiyane, M. C., Kost, M., Marshall, J. K, Wiley, J., Strolin-Goltzman, J., Khatiwada, M., & VanMeter, J. W.   (2014).  fMRI clinical trial of a dual –processing treatment protocol for substance-dependent adults.  Research on Social Work Practice, 24(6), 659-669.

Honors and Awards

  • Mason Innovation Award. Lab to Market Innovators.  George Mason University, Fairfax, VA (May 9, 2023)

  • Multidisciplinary Innovation Award College of Public Health, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA (April 28, 2023)

  • Matto, Holly C., and Seshaiyer, Padmanabhan. Systems and methods for biobehavioral-regulation treatments. US Patent 11,445,956, filed April 5, 2019, and issued September 20, 2022.  Patent

  • 2018 Master Teacher Award (senior faculty) from the College of Health and Human Services (Spring, 2018).

  • 2018 Shirley S. Travis Habit of Excellence Award, recipient, from College of Health and Human Services, George Mason University

  • Fellow of the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR), 2017, Society for Social Work and Research


  • PhD, Social Work, University of Maryland
  • MSW, Interpersonal Practice, University of Michigan
  • BFA, Art Therapy, Ohio University