VP of Clinical Development & Medical Affairs, Big Health, Inc.
ABCT member since 2008
What is the context in which you work, and what was your path to conducting research in this setting?
My role is VP of Clinical Development & Medical Affairs at Big Health, a developer of digital therapeutics for mental health. In this role, I oversee both product development activities from a clinical standpoint as well as clinical research efforts to evaluate the effects of our therapeutics. I also help communicate the clinical research findings to a broad set of stakeholders, including members of the company, healthcare payers, industry groups, investors, government authorities, etc. I oversee clinical trials to establish the safety and efficacy of our products; large effectiveness and implementation studies across different settings and populations; and mechanistic studies to understand how our products function and support behavior change at a deeper level. We conduct all of our clinical research in collaboration with academic partners at major research institutions around the world.
What tips can you offer to colleagues trying to start a research lab or begin a career in research outside of traditional academic settings?
Working at Big Health has opened my eyes to the world of industry-led research. While much is the same in industry-led research as in traditional academic research, there are some differences that may be of interest to professionals considering their research career options. Industry-led research is subject to more scrutiny from a conflict of interest standpoint, thus clinical trials need to be carefully designed and documented to reduce any potential for bias. For example, industry researchers need to adjust their investigator responsibilities so that they are not personally responsible for conducting outcomes assessments or statistical analyses (these should be done by independent academic researchers). Another major difference is that industry-led research is often funded directly by the company rather than grant-based. This means that the timeline for research can be faster and more predictable than in academic settings. The fast-paced and often collaborative nature of industry-led research can be very rewarding. Understanding these similarities and differences will be key to identifying which type of research setting is the best fit for any clinical researcher.
What strategies have helped you be successful in a challenging funding environment?
Working in industry has been an effective way of conducting a large volume of high-quality research even during a challenging funding environment. Companies that need to conduct clinical research typically have ample and consistent budgets for research year over year. This makes it possible to continue research efforts without interruption due to gaps in grant funding. Of course, some companies do depend on grant-based funding for their research, so this is not always the case.
How did you first become involved in research? What was this first research experience like?
I first became involved in research as a study coordinator at UCSF prior to graduate school. In this experience, I got exposure to the ins and outs of conducting human subjects research, including everything from HIPAA to interviewing participants to cleaning/entering data to writing up results. Then in graduate school, I was a Principal Investigator for the first time and got experience designing, conducting, and publishing clinical trials from end to end. Given how complex the research process is, particularly for psychological studies that involve experiments with human subjects, there is a steep learning curve. My first research projects were very effortful, whereas now the research process feels like second nature. As a result, I am now able to enjoy the big-picture impact of each project to a much greater degree.
Has your approach to research changed over the course of your career? If so, how has it changed?
One way my research approach has changed is that it has become more collaborative. Early in my career I felt it was important to do as much as I could independently. I often waited to have full drafts of protocols or manuscripts prepared before sharing with co-authors. Over time, I started to enjoy being more collaborative across the whole research process from study design to manuscript preparation. This is partly due to practice collaborating over time -- with greater familiarity of the whole process it is easier to navigate shared work on different parts, but it is also because I developed a set of frequent collaborators that I work really well with. It is easy for us to work closely together iterating on the study design and the writing process. This change has increased both my enjoyment of research and my productivity.
What have you found most rewarding about your research?
I find it very rewarding to work across the entire R&D cycle. That is, I am able to develop digital interventions as well as conduct research to validate them clinically, and then monitor the real-world impact of these interventions. This makes the entire process feel closely tied to helping people in the real world, and it makes my work focused at all times on providing the greatest benefit possible to the end user or patient. I have also found it rewarding to conduct large-scale clinical trials with thousands of participants, which is possible because I am evaluating automated digital interventions. Through this work we have contributed significantly to the field's understanding of the potential for digital therapeutics as we have been able to validate the effectiveness of fully automated digital therapeutics for several mental health conditions across many large-scale studies.
How do you balance research with the other demands of your position?
Research takes up approximately 30% of my working hours and is flexibly integrated into my day-to-day schedule. I have a team of clinical researchers that support all of the research we do at Big Health and therefore we are able to divide responsibilities. This means I am able to be efficient with my time while being involved in a large number of studies at any one time. Of course, I also have to manage my calendar and reserve enough time for writing, editing, and the other more time intensive-research tasks.
What does an average day or week look like for you?
My team is based in the UK and the US, so I start my days early in order to connect with my colleagues in the UK. As clinical development and research activities impact many areas of the company, I have frequent-internal meetings with colleagues across different departments in order to coordinate our activities. The marketing department may need time with me or my team in order to understand study results or other aspects of clinical science, or I may be meeting with the product team to review proposed changes to the program. I also have external meetings, such as presenting our data to a potential customer (large healthcare payer), developing an implementation plan with a healthcare provider, or providing webinars or talks at conferences. Outside of this, I spend most of my time developing or reviewing research protocols, clinical content for the programs, and providing thought leadership pieces for media outlets.
What drew you to this particular research question?
I have been interested in creating and disseminating evidence-based treatments for anxiety, depression, and related disorders since beginning my training as a psychologist. Given the difficulty accessing such treatments as traditionally delivered in 1:1 in-person therapy, I was interested in developing interventions that could be more accessible to the broad population. That is why I joined Big Health and committed to research focused on creating evidence-based and scalable digital therapeutics for mental health. My research interest then is about both validating this digital delivery model as well as improving this model of care from both the intervention and implementation standpoint.
What is an example of a set-back you've experienced in your work, and how did you handle it?
Developing digital therapeutic programs that will be provided to millions of people is a complex process. The underlying digital platforms must be extremely robust to withstand vast usage and the products must meet stringent laws and standards for quality, privacy, and security. In some cases there are regulatory requirements as well (i.e., FDA). With these constraints it can be challenging to develop and iterate quickly on a therapeutic program. In the early days at my company, there were times when we had to focus on technological improvements to a greater degree than therapeutic improvements. As we have grown in size and established strong underlying platforms and processes these trade-offs are less necessary. Nevertheless, during times where I was unable to continuously move the therapeutic improvements forward as much as I wished, I had to figure out other ways of continuing to advance our work. That meant thinking about how to plan, prepare, and even test out proposed therapeutic changes in advance of when we could make them in the product. We found creative ways to experiment, advance our thinking, and then be ready to quickly implement changes when the time was right. It also meant I had more time to focus on research and other aspects of my work.
What is one challenge about your research that you didn't anticipate before you started the work, and how have you dealt with this?
One challenge of doing research in an industry setting is that you have to be more aware of the potential and/or the appearance of bias. Although investigator bias is relevant for all research, there is an assumption that industry-sponsored research is more at risk than independent academic research. For this reason, industry-led research should follow specific practices for avoiding or reducing the potential of bias. Many of these are standard academic practices, such as ensuring an IRB has reviewed and approved the study, blinding assessors to treatment condition, publishing study protocols in advance of recruitment, and registering clinical trials. However, there are additional measures that must be taken in industry as well. For example, independent statisticians must be used to conduct all analyses, and industry investigators should ensure they are not involved in any activities that could introduce bias (i.e., study assessments). Coming from an academic research setting, I was used to being involved in all aspects of a study, including running analyses and conducting assessments. So I had to adapt and ensure that independent researchers were responsible for these elements of our studies.
If you weren't pursuing a career in psychology, what would you be doing?
I have always had wide-ranging interests from intellectual to creative to athletic, so I would not have a hard time filling my time if I was not pursuing a career in psychology! Prior to deciding to get my PhD in psychology, I was a finalist for a Fulbright scholarship in which I proposed utilizing girls soccer to support community development for girls growing up in low-income areas of France. My career might have taken a different path had I been awarded that scholarship -- or then again maybe that path would have led me to psychology as well. I have also always been interested in film-making, and still entertain ideas of writing a screenplay when I am between jobs at some point. Writing characters for film seems like a fun application of my psychological skills. Career aside, my favorite way to travel and see the world is on a bike, and if I had more time I would certainly prioritize long (epic!) bike journeys across the US and other countries.
Why did you join ABCT? How does your ABCT membership inform your research?
As a scientist-practitioner focused on the development and evaluation of cognitive and behavioral treatments for mental health, joining ABCT early in my training was a natural step. ABCT involvement has informed my research in a variety of ways over the years. The annual conference serves as a great place to learn about and discuss the latest research in CBT, and it is a convenient venue for connecting with new and existing research collaborators. As the professional organization most focused on cognitive and behavioral therapy for mental health, I consider it important to stay abreast of the work of ABCT members and I also believe it is my duty to share back my own research and learnings for the benefit of the community.
As the leadership and staff of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, we are shocked and saddened by the attack on the US Capitol and on American Democracy. As an organization committed to the understanding and improvement of human functioning and to the enhancement of health and well-being, ABCT stands firmly against threatening and hate-filled behavior, especially when directed toward those who are most vulnerable.
Perhaps this event is not surprising. There was plenty of press leading up to it. But to see the clips on news stations and to hear reactions to this event from leaders around the globe gives us pause. Violence, looting, and disregard for democracy are unacceptable. The psychological effects of exposure to terrorism, whether foreign or domestic, are well-documented and include posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and substance use. As a membership organization focused on advancing the scientific understanding, assessment, prevention, and treatment of human problems through the global application of behavioral, cognitive, and biological evidence-based principles we must make ourselves accessible to those who do not know how to cope with these terrifying current events.
What can you do as a citizen, therapist, or member? Be a good citizen. Model good behavior. The golden rule continues to work well as a starting point. Teach tolerance and teach what's right. As parents, as teachers, as bosses, even as friends and colleagues, share your expectations and the strategies for accomplishing them. We live in turbulent times and need our members to be the leaders in their setting and to share their knowledge on combating anger, anxiety, depression, and suicide prevention based on science. As scientists, we must further speak out against the deliberate misinformation and distortions that fueled these actions and the blatant racism that buoyed them.
Below are actions you could consider taking:
Share your knowledge and skill sets: Inform local community groups, religious organizations, regional newspapers, websites, and other opportunities in your area that there are many evidence-based treatments to deal with anger, anxiety, depression, relationship issues, and suicide prevention.
Teach tolerance. Don't miss opportunities to teach our children what's right and to share examples of how we live with our friends and colleagues. Reinforce the importance of listening.
Be Informed. Some of the following ABCT materials might help in understanding some of the problems and how best to overcome them and/or help others:
These resources, and more, can be found on our website at www.abct.org
MEET ABCT'S FEATURED THERAPISTS
Featured Therapist Interview
Kevin Ashworth (he/him/his) is a licensed therapist, Co-Founder and Clinical Director of NW Anxiety Institute, a specialty anxiety clinic in Portland, Oregon. He is also an adjunct professor in the department of psychological sciences at the University of Portland. NW Anxiety Institute focuses on the treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and anxiety disorders in children, adolescents, and adults and is committed to provided culturally competent cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). NW Anxiety Institute offers outpatient individual therapy as well as daily groups for individuals across the lifespan and a 6-week intensive outpatient program for adolescents and adults. They are 100% telehealth during the pandemic.
Kevin has worked for the past decade with children, teens, adults, and families who live with anxiety disorders; he specializes in the delivery of CBT and exposure therapies. Kevin presents regularly on topics of anxiety, parenting, and CBT, and is passionate about helping individuals overcome their fears and change their relationship with anxiety. Kevin is an immigrant to the United States; he moved to the USA as a child after his family was chosen from a green-card lottery system.
First, we would like to know a little about your practice
What are your personal strengths as a practitioner?
My personal strengths include merging creativity, humor, and warmth with the necessary psychoeducation, research, and scientific information for my clients. This combination helps clients access their experiences of vulnerabilities when we first meet and/or work through their "yuck." I balance the use of relevant examples and metaphors similar to my clients' experiences to highlight teachings and integrate therapy principles into my clients' lives.
What "tips" can you offer to colleagues just opening a practice?
My tip would be to find a niche, stick with it, and become very competent in that area. Quite quickly the word will spread, and you will have established yourself as the person to see. I'd also recommend saying "yes" to as many community events, speaking opportunities, or teaching opportunities as you can.
How do you remind your patients of their strengths during the therapy process?
I typically remind my clients of their strengths through Socratic questioning. For many, it doesn't feel natural to attend to the things they are good at. My goal is to help them identify these things by inquiring about what has worked and what has not. I remind them often that the experience of anxiety is not a failure, but evidence they are doing something hard.
We would also like to know a little about you personally.
Who was your mentor?
My mentor was a psychologist named Johan Rosqvist, PsyD. He specialized in anxiety disorders before passing away tragically. Since then, I've had many others who have been extremely helpful and valuable in my personal growth.
When not practicing CBT, what do you do for fun?
I enjoy reading, home projects, and spending time with my family. I enjoy adventuring on my motorcycle and feeling connected to the world, usually through dust and rain.
We are also interested in some of your views of CBT.
What do you think is the single most important thing CBT can do for your clients?
CBT allows clients to use data and evidence to test perceived anxieties. This helps reframe "yucky" experiences as opportunities of tolerance.
Where do you see the field of the behavioral therapies going over the next 3-5 years?
I hope to see the field moving away from 1-hour weekly therapy. For some, it's not enough and for others it's too much at one time. Behavioral change requires daily attention. A therapy structure that offers daily check-ins, quick consults, and intermittent experiences of encouragement may prove to be more successful.
How do you use the local or social media to educate your community on the benefits of CBT?
We use Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to share the conversation of CBT and behavioral principles. I provide many presentations to schools, communities, and business on topics of anxiety and behavioral change.
Finally, we would like to know your opinions about ABCT.
How long have you been a member of ABCT?
How has ABCT helped you professionally?
I have benefited greatly from the publication that is part of the membership. It is helpful to maintain a pulse on the field and hear about other clinicians and new research.
What services do you consider the most valuable from ABCT?
What service(s) are missing from ABCT in your role as a practitioner?
Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions!
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer our questions!
The Anxiety and Stress Lab, located in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is directed by Jonathan Abramowitz, PhD.
Trainee Lab Members
Jennifer Buchholz, MA
Samantha Hellberg, BA
Heidi Ojalehto, BA
Postbaccalaureate Research Assistant:
Megan Butcher, BA
We asked each of the Anxiety and Stress Lab's ABCT members:
What is your area of research interest?
How has ABCT been helpful to you?
If a student were thinking about joining ABCT, what activities would you recommend they get involved in?
Jennifer Buchholz, MA
My research aims to (1) identify therapeutic techniques that enhance exposure therapy for anxiety-related disorders and (2) explore sociocultural and psychological factors that affect symptom development and recovery.
I look forward to the ABCT convention each year as an exceptional opportunity to learn from clinicians and researchers with diverse areas of expertise and to develop interdisciplinary collaborations.
I recommend attending the ABCT annual convention and virtual workshops throughout the year. ABCT's professional development programming has shaped my career path throughout my time as a student member.
Samantha Hellberg, BA
My primary research interests center on the mechanisms of perinatal mental health, with a focus on anxiety- and trauma-related concerns. Within this area, I am very interested in the use of novel technology-based assessment methods (e.g., ecological momentary assessment) and quantitative approaches that can inform our understanding of dynamic and person-specific processes.
ABCT has been foundational to my education and professional trajectory. I first joined ABCT during my postbaccalaureate ("post-bac") research assistant position. While a post-bac member, I developed my research interests and encountered cutting-edge research in the field at the annual ABCT convention. I also connected with prospective mentors and received invaluable guidance to support my application process for PhD programs in Clinical Psychology. Since starting my doctoral degree at UNC, ABCT has continued to play a considerable role in my professional development. Through the annual convention and my role as a student representative for the Technology & Behavior Change SIG, I have been able to continue to build my professional network, refine my program of research, and receive additional mentorship to support my development as a trainee.
In addition to presenting at the annual convention, I recommend trainees and post-bacs get involved with the Student SIG as well as other specialized SIGs related to their potential research interests. These groups often provide formal and informal ways to connect with fellow trainees and leading professionals in your area(s) of interest. For me, the connections made through SIG membership have been very valuable in supporting my graduate application process, obtaining independent funding, and generally, providing support in graduate school and these early phases of career development!
Megan Butcher, BA
I am interested in the intersection between physical health and mental health outcomes, especially related to chronic illness/pain and anxiety disorders. I am particularly interested in how risk factors, such as sleep disturbance and distress (in)tolerance, might mediate those relationships.
ABCT has exposed me to different resources and professionals in the field, which has led me to explore new career opportunities. While presenting posters at the annual ABCT convention, I connected with other researchers and potential graduate school mentors. Additionally, ABCT has granted opportunities to learn about topics beyond my immediate area of interest that I otherwise would not have exposure to.
I would highly recommend presenting research and/or attending a poster session at the ABCT convention to connect with other professionals in their research areas of interest. I also recommend joining SIGs and/or attending SIG meetings-these talks have helped me to explore and develop research interests prior to applying to graduate school programs.
Jonathan Abramowitz, PhD
Jonathan Abramowitz is Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, and Director of the Anxiety and Stress Disorders Clinic at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). An internationally recognized expert on obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety, he has published over 300 research articles, books, and book chapters. Dr. Abramowitz is a Past President of ABCT and is Editor of the Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders. He is a regular presenter at professional conferences and has received numerous awards for his contributions to the field, including ABCT's "Spotlight on Mentors" program.
The UNC Anxiety and Stress Lab is both a research laboratory and a clinic, serving as a recruitment vehicle for research projects, a training clinic for graduate students to refine their skills in the use of empirically supported assessment and intervention for individuals with clinical anxiety, and as a resource for members of the university and surrounding communities who are in need of clinical services. Lab alumni have gone on to successful careers in academic psychology departments, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), teaching colleges, and other opportunities in the field.
How long have you been a member of ABCT?
I joined ABCT in 1995, when it was still "AABT." I was in graduate school (my advisor turned me on to AABT) and have been a proud member ever since. So, it's been 25 years!
How often and why do you attend the ABCT convention?
I wouldn't miss the ABCT convention (and even planned the birth of my children so they wouldn't coincide!), and I usually take a group of graduate and undergraduate students from my lab. I attend because ABCT is my professional home. I love the learning that takes place, the chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones, and the opportunities to present my lab's work and show off my wonderful students.
How do you stay current with developments in the field, both research and practice?
I read a lot of journal articles and serve as a journal editor and reviewer. I also find that my graduate students keep me up to date on areas of the field they are interested in.
How has ABCT helped you/your lab professionally?
I have many professional collaborations that started by meeting people with similar interests at the ABCT convention.
Does your lab have any traditions? Does your lab do anything together for fun?
Yes, every year we try to organize a dinner out together during the ABCT convention with other labs that we collaborate with. We also have end-of-semester dinners to celebrate our lab's accomplishments outside of the convention.
What advice would you give prospective trainees?
When I'm reviewing applications for our Clinical Psychology PhD program, I look for applicants with experience that's relevant to the lab they're applying to. It's really that match that's most important, in my opinion. So, my advice is to work in lab or finish a master's degree and get good research experience before applying to a PhD program in Clinical Psychology. Good grades and test scores aren't enough these days.
Graduate Student Research Grant
The ABCT Research Facilitation Committee is sponsoring a grant of up to $1000 to support graduate student research.
The grant will be awarded based on a combination of merit and need. Eligible candidates are graduate student members of ABCT seeking funding for an unfunded (including internal sources of funding) thesis or dissertation project that has been approved by either the faculty advisor or the student's full committee.
Applications should include all of the materials listed in GSRG Application Guidelines (downloadable from the ABCT webpage) and one letter of support from a faculty advisor.
Please email the application, excluding the advisor letter, in a single .pdf to the chair of the Research Facilitation Committee, Shannon Sauer-Zavala, PhD, at email@example.com. Include "Graduate Student Research Grant" in your subject heading.
Please ask your faculty advisor to e-mail a letter of support separately.
Stabilizing Chaos: Fostering Psychological Resilience in the Wake of Adverse Events
Presented by Lata McGinn, Ph.D.Yeshiva University
Cognitive & Behavioral Consultants
In ABCT's continued effort to support our members, we are offering a free 1-hour podcast, "Stabilizing Chaos: Fostering Psychological Resilience in the Wake of Adverse Events." It is our hope that this information will be of assistance as we partner to meet the increased mental health needs of our community. The COVID-19 pandemic, the economic downturn, and the racist killing of George Floyd have led to national crises and have impacted all of our lives in unprecedented ways. For many in our communities, including essential workers and those who have lost family and friends as a result of the virus, the risk for trauma exposure is high. This podcast will offer practical strategies rooted in Psychological First Aid (PFA), an evidence-based approach for fostering resilience, helping people effectively cope in the aftermath of a trauma, and preventing the development of pathological symptoms. The webinar will also describe maladaptive coping that increases the chances of developing pathological symptoms, and present CBT strategies that prevent onset of symptoms and help individuals adaptively cope with chronic stress. The goal of this webinar is to support clinicians to feel prepared to navigate the increase in trauma exposure and chronic stress that their clients may soon be, or already are, experiencing. Participants will learn common trauma reactions, risk and resilience factors, the components of PFA, how to apply PFA and other CBT principles during these crises in a virtual setting.
Please note that this webinar will not be eligible for CE credit.
Have you visited ABCT’s YouTube channel
ABCT’s YouTube channel has great information, including how-to demonstrations giving you immediate nearly anxiety-free competency with starting telehealth in your own practice or getting tips on how to teach a class online, or, if you want to be on the receiving end, tips for getting into graduate school.
There’s also a slew of videos celebrating the pioneers who have shaped CBT theory and practice. Profitable, enjoyable, easy-to-digest material.
We, your publishers, love coming to the ABCT Annual Convention. Like everyone who attends, we are here to network and to learn, and in our case - we hope - to inform. We get to meet existing authors, prospective authors and editors; and we get to show readers and potential readers both the latest releases as well as established classics and publications that ABCT members and others have created. We aim to showcase the best of ABCT for ABCT.
Unlike online stores, where you may have to search through millions of products, in the ABCT convention exhibit hall attendees can see carefully curated selections of books, journals, and other information resources that are relevant for your professional development. Some may even be a bit of fun. You can pick them up, browse them, compare them with other publications to get the one that is right for you and/or your clients.
Another great thing is that you can usually choose whether to buy and take your favorite book with you to read straight away - or have it shipped home for free.
And our meeting discounts save you money as well. Just a couple of examples: New Harbinger is currently offering a 30% discount online, with a meeting discount of 30% and free shipping. Or you can save over $10 on $30 books in Hogrefe's Advances in Psychotherapy series with the meeting discount and "4 for 3" offer.
Another neat thing is that many of our authors like hanging out at their publishers' booths, so if you're lucky you may even be able to chat with this expert in the exhibit hall - if you've not already attended a talk or symposium.
The select band of publishers that continue to support ABCT help make the exhibit hall educational and professionally informative. So come by your favorite publishers' booths at the Annual Convention: delve into great publications and choose the right one(s) for you, to read right now or later, save money, and chat with the experts who've written them - or maybe even discuss your own ideas with your favorite publishers.
Dorothy Smyk, Foreign rights Director (New Harbinger)
David A. F. Haaga, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, American University
Anne Marie Albano Early Career Award for the Integration of Science and Practice
Emily L. Bilek, Ph.D., ABPP, University of Michigan
Sobell Innovative Addictions Research Award
Christopher Correia, Ph.D., Auburn University
Distinguished Friend to Behavior Therapy
Andrea Petersen, Wall Street Journal in-house writer, who consistently takes a CBT approach when covering mental health
Outstanding Service to ABCT
Lata K. McGinn, Ph.D., Yeshiva University and Cognitive Behavioral Consultants
Virginia A. Roswell Student Dissertation Award
Alexandra Werntz Czywczynski, M.A., University of Virginia and University of Massachusetts Boston
Leonard Krasner Student Dissertation Award
Nur Hani Zainal, M.S., Pennsylvania State University
John R. Z. Abela Student Dissertation Award
Christopher J. Senior, M.A., Catholic University of America
Student Research Grant
Kelsey Pritchard, University of Toledo
Honorable Mention: Christina L. Verzijl, B.A., University of South Florida
President's New Researcher
Joseph McGuire, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Student Travel Award
Katherine Venturo-Conerly, Harvard University
Elsie Ramos Memorial Student Poster Awards
Danielle Weber, M.A., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: "Patterns of Emotional Communication in Same-Sex Female Couples Before and After Couple Therapy"
Gemma T. Wallace, B.A., Colorado State University: "Personality and Emotion Dysregulation Dimensions Differentially Predict Engagement in a Wide Range of Self-Injurious and Health-Risk Behaviors"
Rachel Weiler, MSc, PGSP-Stanford PsyD Consortium: "Is Dialectical Behavior Therapy a Good Fit for Transgender and Gender Nonbinary Patients?"
This award recognizes outstanding individuals who are not members of ABCT but who have shown exceptional dedication, influence, and social impact through the promotion of evidence-based interventions and who have thereby advanced the mission of ABCT.
Visit our Champions page for full details on how to nominate and for a full listing of champions
photo courtesy of Geralt
The Clinical Directory and Referral issues committee is highlighting the large number of SIGs that cover racial and ethnic diversity within ABCT:
Call for Papers: Special Issue of Behavior Therapy
The impact and treatment of sleep disorders
Sleep disorders are a significant public health problem in general, and are particularly elevated among psychiatric populations. This Special Issue aims to highlight cutting-edge research on the treatment of sleep disorders as well as work that makes significant contributions to our understanding of how sleep disorders impact the treatment of comorbid psychological disorders. Some of the essential questions that this special issue will seek to address include:
1. What is the efficacy or effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapies for sleep disorders, including traditional and eHealth interventions?
2. How do sleep disorders impact the treatment outcomes of comorbid psychological disorders?
3. What are the mechanisms that may explain the connection between sleep disorders and other psychological disorders, and how can this inform treatment planning?
This is not an exhaustive list, but instead illustrates the type of research questions of interest. Studies that assess sleep disorders using interview or polysomnography methods are encouraged. Papers for this special issue must highlight the clinical value of the findings. In addition to original research, review articles, short reports, brief commentary, case reports, and meta-analyses are invited.
Please direct inquiries and submit proposal abstracts to Carmen McLean (firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than February 1, 2019. If invited to contribute, final papers will be due July 1, 2019. Papers not considered for the special issue are of course still welcome for submission to the journal as an author initiated manuscript.
ABCT is delighted to announce a new partnership with PsyberGuide.
Please watch these pages for an expanding list of CBT-relevant apps being reviewed by the staff at PsyberGuide and the editors at Cognitive and Behavioral Practice.
PsyberGuide (PsyberGuide.org) is a non-profit website reviewing smartphone applications and other digital mental health tools. Its goal is to help people make responsible and informed decisions about the technologies they use for management of mental health. PsyberGuide is committed to ensuring that this information is available to all, and that it is free of preference, bias, or endorsement.
PsyberGuide is funded by One Mind, a leading non-profit organization supporting collaborative brain research to provide patients who suffer from brain disease and injury better diagnostics and treatment. With over 325,000 emerging digital health technologies, and an estimated 15,000 of those designed for mental health, One Mind recognized the lack of advice or guidelines to help people navigate the expanding marketplace of mental health apps. Thus in 2013, One Mind established PsyberGuide to address this growing problem.
In 2017, One Mind welcomed Dr. Stephen Schueller as Executive Director. Dr. Schueller is an Assistant Professor of Psychological Science at University of California. Irvine. His work focuses on expanding the accessibility and availability of mental health services through technology.
PsyberGuide & ABCT established this partnership with the aim of disseminating reviews of digital mental health tools to a broad audience of researchers, psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental-health practitioners who are interested in using these tools in their practice of behavioral, cognitive, and biological evidence-based principles.
In the coming months, app reviews from both PsyberGuide and Cognitive and Behavioral Practice will be integrated on both sites to expand the reach of information on available apps. ABCT will be developing a dedicated app review page which will host a sample of relevant PsyberGuide reviews. PsyberGuide will also link to C&BP reviews on their site, where relevant.
PsyberGuide Executive Director, Dr. Stephen Schueller, said "ABCT has been a leader in advancing the use of innovative behavioral and cognitive treatments. Technological behavioral and cognitive treatments will play a role in the future of mental health care and we're excited to team with ABCT to ensure researchers and practitioners are equipped to effectively use technology to help improve people's lives."
Cognitive and Behavioral Practice's apps are reviewed with the idea of providing guidance to clinicians in choosing apps that allow them to best serve the needs of their clients. Reviews will often cover cost, targeted clients, basic purpose, the research data behind them, as well as quick overviews of their utility.
To see Cognitive and Behavioral Practice's review apps, click on the app that most interests you:
MMFT Review Summaries
Anxiety Coach is an app for iOS devices ($4.99 at time of publication; Mayo Clinic, 2016) marketed as a self-help program for anxiety for children and adults. The primary focus is to help individuals understand and identify anxiety symptoms, create a hierarchy, and develop plans for exposure tasks. The program was designed by clinical researchers with expertise in CBT for anxiety. There is potential to support ongoing therapy, such as to allow patients to provide real-time data when reviewing between-session anxiety and exposure details with a therapist. Whiteside and colleagues (2014) have published case studies and reported feasibility/acceptability data which are promising. Our expert reviewer felt that the focus of the app on helping users conduct exposure tasks is unique and valuable, and the program had good navigation and an easy to follow user interface.
SuperBetter is an iOS app and website that is marketed to help users pursue goals, which can include mental health goals. The app was developed using game theory and mechanics that mimic "behaviors and techniques that have been clinically shown to give individuals more control over their thoughts and feelings" according to the developer, Jane McGonigal, who has authored books on the subject of leveraging gaming to increase well-being. There are video-game features like "power-ups," "quests," "Power Packs" and a "Community" where individuals can join in to engage in forums or play together as "Allies." Our reviewer found a strong development team and breadth of content, but felt the overall quality of the content lacking in terms of potential to promote clinically significant levels of improvement without active or guided practice with real-world behavior change. Preliminary RCTs have shown feasibility, though attrition rates continue to be a concern. Our reviewer recommends caution if considering this as a stand-alone option for depression or as an adjunct to face-to-face therapy without further data on effectiveness and further development of human safety plans.
Sleepio is a 6-week treatment program for insomnia delivered online and through mobile app. The program includes evidence-based components including psychoeducation, relaxation techniques, cognitive thought challenging sleep scheduling and sleep tracking compatibility (with other wearable trackers). Our reviewer felt the navigation was easy to use and the platform engaging. The program has been tested in a large RCT and smaller trials with promising results. The program is more costly than online competitors ($300 for a 1-year subscription). Our reviewer felt it was a good option as stand-alone first-line intervention and a model internet-based CBT intervention.
TicHelper.com is an 8-week online treatment program for Tic Disorders in youth (8-adolescence) based on the empirically-supported Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT) protocol and developed in collaboration with experts who developed and tested CBIT. The program includes evidence-based components including psychoeducation, training in developing competing responses and multiple videos to illustrate concepts. There is also some parent-focused content. Our reviewer felt the program was age-appropriate, appealing and easy to navigate. While the online program does not offer the tailoring allowed in face-to-face individual therapy, there are branching structures which allow some tailoring of content. There is pilot feasibility data on the prototype but no research trials published at the time of this review. Our reviewer notes that the strengths outweigh the weaknesses and the program is unique in the market of targeting this condition and using evidence-based treatment components.
Triple P Online is an online self-help parent training program aimed at reducing child behavior problems through evidence-based "positive parenting practices." The program is available through the website, www2.tripleponline.net, at time of review for $79.95. The program is comprised of 8 video-based modules. Our expert reviewer found the program to include high-quality content with relevant and easily locatable resources, and felt the navigation was easy-to-use and appealing. The program's main weakness lies in its lack of monitoring and adaptation to the user's state (e.g., child's and parent's behaviors), and real-time reminders for desired actions. Overall the program was found to be a valuable parent training resource for addressing child behavior problems by our reviewer.
Psychotherapy.net is an online magazine and video library and production company targeting clinicians, educators, and clinical trainees. At present, the website offers two video steaming subscription plans for individual use: 1) a "Choice plan", which allows access to 2 monthly videos for a fee of $39 each month; and 2) an "Unlimited plan" for $79 monthly, which allows unlimited access to the full online library of over 200 training videos. The primary strength of the website is the breadth of available psychotherapy training videos, which cover several major theoretical orientations, modalities, and clinical populations. However, our expert reviewer notes that the resource is limited by the current absence of information related to evidence-based practice recommendations.
ABCT weighs in on the effects on children of being separated from their parents
Members consulted the literature on this, and posted results from the literature. Needless to say, the findings don't paint pretty pictures. Studies included refugees in Christmas Island, survivors of natural disaster in Australia, left behind children in China, and more.
Detention is not good for children; children in detention handle it better if with their parents; Chinese children left behind as their migrant parents work fair worse than children who accompany their migrant parents even though the living conditions are tougher; foster care, when parents are alive, is sometimes a source of confusion.
Problems are detailed in our posting, with full coverage here
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