Emily Helder

Professor of Psychology
Profile photo of  Emily Helder

Emily Helder joined the Hope College Department of Psychology faculty in 2023. Her teaching responsibilities include Behavioral Disorders, Research Methods in Psychology, and Internship.

Her research focuses on the impact of early neglect, abuse and other adverse childhood experiences, as well as protective factors and interventions that can address these impacts. Additionally, her research and clinical work focuses on adoption and foster care. Her interests also encompass mental health policy and she serves as a board member of Network180 (the Kent County Community Mental Health agency).

Prior to coming to Hope, Emily was a faculty member in the psychology department at Calvin University for 14 years.

AREAS OF Expertise

Dr. Helder is a clinical neuropsychologist, a specialty which focuses on the way that changes in the brain impact thinking, behavior and emotions. Initially, her research examined the ways that institutional care, such as orphanages, impacts brain development and ways that family-based care (through adoption or foster care) can improve neurological functioning. Over time, her research has broadened to include a number of topics within adoption and foster care, such as religious meaning-making and social functioning.


  • Ph.D., clinical psychology, Wayne State University, 2009
    specializations in neuropsychology and development
  • Clinical internship, University of Chicago Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience


  • Michigan Health Endowment Fund, co-investigator, “Interprofessional support groups for adults with dysphagia and caregivers” (2022–2024)
  • Calvin Center for Christian Scholarship, Principal Investigator, “Religious meaning-making in adoption: Perspectives of adult adoptees” (2022–2023)
  • Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Community Impact Grant, Principal Investigator, “Intervention to address social skills among adopted adolescents” (2019–2021)
  • Advising and Mentoring Award, Calvin University (2021)
  • Community-Based Teaching Award, Calvin College (2018)
  • Faculty Lectureship Award, Calvin College (2013)

Selected Publications

Publications, presentations and more informatiom about research can be found at emilyhelder.com.

Outside the College

Emily enjoys spending time with her husband, Jon, and two children, Lily and Flint. They love hiking and exploring the National Parks. She also enjoys trying new cuisines, cooking, vegetable gardening and reading. 

Profile photo of  Emily Helder
Emily Helder

Phone Number616.395.7730

A. Paul Schaap Science Center Room 1110 35 East 12th Street Holland, MI 49423
A map showing the location for  Emily Helder A. Paul Schaap Science Center Room 1110 35 East 12th Street Holland MI 49423