Welcome to the Suffolk University Acceptance, Mindfulness and Emotion Laboratory. We are a translational research lab committed to coupling conceptually driven basic research with treatment development and efficacy efforts in order to gain a better understanding for the complex mechanisms that underlie psychopathology, particularly generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder and substance use related disorders. We are specifically interested in examining how particular responses to internal experiences (images, psychophysiological states, emotions, and thoughts), such as avoidance or suppression, can impact the development and maintenance of problems in psychological functioning. The clinical application of this work involves the development of prevention and treatment programs aimed at integrating acceptance and mindfulness of one’s internal experiences into traditionally behavioral approaches to treatment. Our final goal is to examine the topography and relevance of these processes across different cultures.
We are a collaborative lab with an explicit focus on developing a research community in which faculty, graduate and undergraduate students can challenge themselves and grow and develop as professionals. Together, we aim to sharpen our critical thinking, foster our curiosity and creativity, contribute to the larger scientific community and have fun.
I grew up in West Hartford, CT, and graduated from the University of Delaware with a Bachelors Degree in psychology. My role as a research assistant on a treatment study and my experience at a clinically oriented internship solidified my passion for clinical psychology. I went right into graduate school at Suffolk, and I feel very fortunate to be a part of the Acceptance, Mindfulness and Emotion Lab. In my spare time, I enjoy yoga, dancing, and time with family and friends.
Current Position: Doctoral Student
Clinical and Research Interests:
My clinical experiences have included working with veterans in the Center for Returning Veterans and the National Center for PTSD at the VA Boston Healthcare System. I’ve also been fortunate to work with adults in the Behavioral Health Partial Hospitalization Program at McLean Hospital, the Depression Clinical and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University. I’m looking forward to completing my final year of graduate school during the 2016-2017 year as an intern with the PTSD Clinical Team at the VA Boston Healthcare System. My clinical interests include working with adults with trauma, mood, and anxiety disorders, and incorporating values and acceptance interventions with more traditional cognitive behavioral approaches to treatment.
My research interests include the development, implementation and dissemination of acceptance-based behavioral (ABBT) interventions in higher education, and the role of moderators and mediators in treatment outcome. To date, I have conducted three outcome studies in this area, in which I examined a one-session ABBT-informed intervention in the context of a volunteer workshop, a first year experience course at Suffolk University, and most recently in an online platform for first year students. As my interests in graduate school have evolved, I have continued to be drawn to the role of moderators and mediators in treatment outcome. For my dissertation, I chose to explore the way that change in personal growth and the extent to which one values personal growth may mediate response to depression and well-being in a sample of patients in a partial hospitalization program.
Dissertation Title: Personal growth initiative and valuing personal growth in a sample of patients treated in an acute psychiatric setting.
Brief Description of Dissertation: For my dissertation, I explored the construct of personal growth and the extent to which one values personal growth in a sample of patients in a partial hospitalization program. Findings demonstrated that personal growth variables were significantly and negatively associated with depression and significantly and positively associated with psychological well-being at baseline. Personal growth variables significantly increased from baseline to post-treatment, and changes in personal growth variables over the course of treatment were correlated with changes in depression and well-being. Moreover, changes in personal growth significantly predicted changes in depression and well-being over and above the previously established predictors of treatment credibility and expectancy (Webb, Kertz, Bigda-Peyton, & Björgvinsson, 2013). Findings provide implications for personal growth as a potential mechanism to enhance psychological functioning.
ERP Title: The Effect of a Mindfulness and Values Articulation Program on Psychological Wellness in First Year Students
Brief Description of ERP: My Master’s project involved developing and implemented a one-session acceptance-based behavioral intervention for first year undergraduates and law students. This study included a waitlist control condition, and measures of mindfulness, values, and psychological distress were administered at the beginning of the first semester and just before the end of the fall semester. The workshop was delivered within the first month of school. Results demonstrated that participants in the workshop condition had significantly lower levels of depression and significantly higher levels of acceptance in comparison with the waitlist-control group. Further, those who received the intervention endorsed higher levels of academic values.
Recent Publications and Presentations:
Danitz, S.B., Suvak, M.K., & Orsillo, S.M. (2016). The mindful way through the semester: Evaluating the impact of integrating an acceptance-based behavioral program into a first year experience course for undergraduates. Behavior Therapy, 47, 487-499. doi: 10.1016/j.beth.2016.03.002
Danitz, S.B., Orsillo, S.M., Lenda, A.K., Shortway, K.M., & Block-Lerner, J. (2016). Acceptance-based behavioral training for pre-professional students. In J. Block-Lerner & L. Cardaciotto (Eds.) The Mindfulness-Informed Educator: Building Acceptance and Psychological Flexibility in Higher Education (pp.137-153). London: Routledge.
Orsillo, S.M., Danitz, S.B. & Roemer, L. (2016). Mindfulness-and acceptance-based cognitive and behavioral therapies. In C.M. Nezu & A.M. Nezu (Eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies (pp.172-199). New York: Oxford University Press.
Morgan, L.P.K., Danitz, S.B., Roemer, L., & Orsillo, S.M. & (2015). Mindfulness approaches to psychological disorders. In H. Friedman (Ed), Encyclopedia of Mental Health, 2nd ed. (pp.148-155) New York, NY: Elsevier.
Danitz, S.B. & Orsillo, S.M. (2014). The mindful way through the semester: An investigation of the effectiveness of an acceptance-based behavioral therapy program on psychological wellness in first year students. Behavior Modification, 38(4), 549–56. doi:10.1177/0145445513520218
Danitz, S.B., Sagon, A.L., & Orsillo, S.M. (2016, October). The mindful way through the semester online: Examining the feasibility and effectiveness of an online program for first year undergraduates. In D. Marks & A. Mullen (Chairs). Disseminating Novel and Accessible Mindfulness- and Acceptance-Based Interventions for College Students. Symposium to be conducted at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, New York, NY.
Danitz, S.B., Orsillo, S.M., Beard, C., Rifkin, L., & Björgvinsson, T. (2015, November). The Impact of personal growth initiative and valuing personal growth on depression and psychological well-being. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Chicago, IL.
Danitz, S.B., Suvak, M.K., & Orsillo, S. (2015, November). Examining moderators and mediators of change within an acceptance-based behavioral program in a first year seminar for undergraduates. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Chicago, IL.
Danitz, S.B., & Orsillo, S. (2014, November). The mindful way through the semester: Evaluating the impact of integrating an acceptance-based behavioral program into a first year seminar for undergraduates. In Z.E. Moore (Chair), Innovative Mindfulness and Acceptance Based Interventions for College Student Mental Health. Symposium to be conducted at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Philadelphia, PA.
Arauz, J., Danitz, S.B., Coyne, L., & Orsillo, S. (2014). An examination of psychological distress, mindfulness, and values among minority and majority first-year college students. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science World Conference, Minneapolis, MN.
Danitz, S.B., & Orsillo, S.M., Hayes-Skelton, S. & Roemer, L. (2013, November). Predictors of change in an acceptance-based behavior therapy and applied relaxation for GAD. In M. J. Dugas, (Chair), Beyond the Horserace: What Are the Factors that Predict and Explain Treatment Response to CBT for GAD? Symposium conducted at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Nashville, TN.
Recent Publications and Presentations:
Katz, A.M., Czech, S.J., & Orsillo, S.M. (2011). Putting values into words: an examination of the text characteristics of values articulation. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Czech, S.J., Katz, A.M., & Orsillo, S.M., (In press). The effect of values affirmation on psychological stress. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.
Applebaum, A. Lichtenthal, W.G., Pessin, H., Radomski, J., Gokbayrak, S., Katz, A.M., Rosenfeld, B. & Breitbart, W. (In press). Factors Associated with Attrition from a Randomized Controlled Trial of Meaning-Centered Group Psychotherapy for Patients with Advanced Cancer. Psycho-Oncology.
Breitbart W.S., Park, J., & Katz A.M. (2010). Pain. In J. Holland, et al (Eds.), Psycho-oncology (2nd ed., pp 215-228). New York: Oxford University Press.
Katz, A.M., Czech, S.J., & Orsillo, S.M. Values articulation and the relationship to stress resilience, mindfulness and experiential avoidance. Poster presented at the 44th Annual Convention of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, 2010.
Katz, A.M. (2010, May). Applying to Clinical Programs. In P. Vernig (Chair). The naked truth: Getting into graduate school. Panel discussion conducted at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, Boston, MA.
Czech, S.J., Vernig, P.V., Glick, D.M., Katz, A.M., & Orsillo, S.M. Does values affirmation affect anticipatory and response anxiety to a stressful task? Poster presented at the 6th World Congress of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, 2010.
I grew up in Belmont, MA and graduated from Tufts University in 2010 with a major in clinical psychology. Through this program I was fortunate to have a senior year internship at a first-episode psychosis center, which was helpful in encouraging me to pursue a PhD program that included strong clinical training. Following graduation I worked for two years within the Department of Psychology at Yale University. I was both a research assistant on a treatment trial for individuals with generalized anxiety disorder, as well as the coordinator for an anxiety and mood disorders clinic. These opportunities were invaluable for developing my current interests in mindfulness and acceptance - based treatments for anxiety disorders. Specifically, I hope to examine potential mechanisms of action in an acceptance-based behavior therapy, as well as treatment dissemination and portability for this approach. A side interest is in the application of other contemplative practices (e.g. meditation) towards helping relieve suffering and encourage growth. Clinical experiences so far have included McLean Hospital’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Institute and Anxiety Mastery Program, Boston University’s Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, and the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital. In my free time I enjoy studying and practicing martial arts.
Current Position: Doctoral Student
Clinical and Research Interests:
Mindfulness and acceptance-based behavioral therapies for individuals with anxiety disorders, depression, and mixed anxiety/depressive episodes. Dissemination of and therapist training for Acceptance-Based Behavior Therapy. Interventions for males with body size dissatisfaction.
Brief Description of Dissertation: My dissertation will look at the effects of a loving kindness and compassion meditation workshop for incoming college students to help them build social support as they transition to school.
ERP Title: Changes in Interpersonal Problems Over the Course of an Acceptance-Based Behavior Therapy for Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
This research looked at how interpersonal problems prior to treatment predicted outcomes for an acceptance-based behavior therapy. It also examined how changes in mindfulness were related to changes in interpersonal problems over treatments.
Millstein, D. J., Orsillo, S. M., Hayes-Skelton, S. A., & Roemer, L. (2015). Interpersonal problems, mindfulness, and therapy outcome in an acceptance-based behavior therapy for generalized anxiety disorder. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 44(6), 49-501.
Glick, D. M., Millstein, D. J., & Orsillo, S. M. (2014). A preliminary investigation of the role of psychological inflexibility in academic procrastination. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 3(2), 81-88.
I grew up in Amherst, NH and graduated from the University of Michigan in 2015 with a major in psychology. At Michigan, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to enroll in the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP). I spent my four years researching a variety of subjects ranging from PTSD to emotional regulation and self-control. During my summers in college, I worked at a treatment program for children with psychosocial disorders, designing and implementing behavioral modification plans. After observing the effect of these programs on the children, I became passionate about exploring the value of taking an individualized approach to treatment. Both my research and clinical experiences steered me towards applying for and pursing a PhD in clinical psychology. Outside of school I enjoy eating delicious foods, spending time with friends and family, and being active!
Current Position: Doctoral Student
Clinical and Research Interests: My research is focused on the intersection between acceptance based behavioral therapies, mindfulness, and social connection. My most recent project has been focused on developing strategies to alleviate the unique stressors of the transition to college for first year students. I am specifically interested in developing this intervention to target both the psychological and social consequences of navigating novel social situations. I hope to eventually develop similar interventions to address the concerns of other vulnerable populations.
Sagon, A.L., Danitz, S.B., Orsillo, S. The Mindful Way through the Semester: Impact on Social Connectedness. (2016, March). Poster session presented at the Annual Depression on College Campuses Conference, Ann Arbor, MI.
Originally from Connecticut, I earned my BA in Psychology from Southern Connecticut State University and my MA in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Prior to coming to Suffolk University, I worked for a number of years as a research assistant at Yale University. The projects that I worked on examined behavioral interventions for individuals struggling with serious mental illness and substance abuse.
Current Position: Doctoral Student
Clinical and Research Interests:
My research interests broadly encompass the study of evidence-based interventions (i.e., efficacy, dissemination, and mechanisms of action) for vulnerable populations. I have particular interest in how interventions impact those who struggle with mental illness, substance abuse, and forensic issues. Another area of interest is personal values and the role that our identified values/goals play in treatment outcomes.
Dissertation Title: The Mindful Way through Primary Care
My dissertation is focused on examining the efficacy of a self-help book targeting generalized anxiety disorder, Worry Less, Live More: The Mindful Way through Anxiety Workbook, in a primary care setting. Persons receiving care in primary care will be randomly assigned to either receive the self-help workbook or a wait list control. Data will be collected at baseline and post-treatment. Changes between groups over time will be analyzed for a number of psychological variables including worry, anxiety, functional disability, and health-related quality of life.
ERP Title: The Relationship between Substance Use and Personally Meaningful Experiences
The purpose of this project is to enhance the current understanding of valued inaction and substance use among college students by examining the relationship between these constructs and experiential avoidance, drinking motives and mindfulness.
Recent Publications and Presentations:
Serowik, K. L. & Orsillo, S. M. (2015). The Relationship Between Substance Use, Experiential Avoidance, and Personally Meaningful Experiences. Poster presented at Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Convention, Chicago, IL.
Rosen, M.I., Ablondi, K., Black, A.C., Mueller, L., Serowik, K.L., Martino, S., Mobo, B.H., Rosenheck, R.A. (2014). Work outcomes after benefits counseling among Veterans applying for service connection for a psychiatric condition. Psychiatric Services.
Serowik, K. L., Ablondi, K., & Rosen, M. I. (2014). Using a think-aloud procedure to modify a counseling website for veterans. Computers and Human Behavior, 37, 26-30.
Serowik, K. L., Rowe, M., Black, A. C., Ablondi, K., Fiszdon, J., Wilber, C., & Rosen, M. I. (2014). Financial motivation to work among people with psychiatric disorders. Journal of Mental Health, 23(4), 186-190.
Rowe, M., Serowik, K. L., Ablondi, K., Wilber, C., & Rosen, M. I. (2013). Recovery and money management. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 36(2), 116-118.
Serowik, K. L., Rowe, M., Bellamy, C., & Rosen, M. I. (2013). Subjective experience of clients in a voluntary money management program. American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, 16, 136-153.
Serowik, K. L. & Yanos, P. (2012). The relationship between services and outcomes for a prison reentry population of those with severe mental illness. Mental Health and Substance Use, 6(1), 1-11.
Black, R. A., Serowik, K. L., & Rosen, M. I. (2009). Associations between impulsivity and high risk sexual behaviors in dually diagnosed outpatients. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 35, 325-328.
Czech, S. J., Orsillo, S. M., Pirraglia, P. A., English, T.M., Connell, A. M. (2015). Association between specific depression symptoms and glycemic control among patients with comorbid type 2 diabetes and provisional depression. The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders, 17(5), e1-e7.
Katz, A. M., Czech, S. J., & Orsillo, S. M. (2013). Putting values into words: An examination of the text characteristics of values articulation. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science.
Czech, S. J., Katz, A. M., & Orsillo, S.M. (2011). The effect of values affirmation on psychological stress. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 40(4), 304-312.
Pilecki, B., Morgan, T., Czech, S., D’Avanzato, C., Holowka, D., Langdon, K., Dalrymple, K., & Zimmerman, M. (2016). Initial results of a specialty young adult track within an acceptance-based partial hospitalization program. Symposium presented at the 14th annual conference for the Association Contextual and Behavioral Sciences, Seattle, WA.
Katz, A. M., Czech, S. J., Vernig, P. M., Lee, J. K., & Orsillo, S. M. (2012, November). Values and Personality: Relationships Between the Big 5 and Valued Action. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, National Harbor, MD.
Katz, A. M., Czech, S. J., & Orsillo, S. M. (2011, November). Values Articulation and the Relationship to Stress Resilience, Mindfulness, and Experiential Avoidance. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, San Francisco, CA.
Czech, S. J., Vernig, P. M., Glick, D. M., Katz, A. M., & Orsillo, S. M. (2010, June). Effect of Values Affirmation on Blood Pressure Response to a Stressful Task. Poster presented at the World Congress of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Boston, MA.
Czech, S. J., Vernig, P. M., & Orsillo, S. M. (2009, November). The Effect of Values Affirmation on Psychological Stress. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, New York, NY.
Czech, S. J., Vernig, P. M., Lee, J. K., & Orsillo, S. M. (2008, November). Values and Positive Outcome: The Effect of Values Affirmation on Psychological Stress. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Orlando, FL.
Recent Publications and Presentations:
Glick, D.M., & Orsillo, S.M. (2011). Relationships among social anxiety, self-focused attention, and experiential distress and avoidance. Journal of Cognitive and Behavioral Psychotherapies, 11(1), 1-12.
Roffman, J., Gerber, A., & Glick, D. (2011). Neural models of psychodynamic concepts and treatments: Implications for psychodynamic psychotherapy. In R.A. Levy, J.S. Ablon, & H. Kaechele (Eds.),Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: Evidence-Based Practice and Practice-Based Evidence. New York, New York: Springer.
Marci, C.D., Glick, D.M., Loh R., & Dougherty, D.D. (2007). Autonomic and prefrontal cortex responses to autobiographical recall of emotions. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 7(3), 243-250.
Principe, J.M., Marci, C.D., Glick, D.M., & Ablon, J.S. (2006). The effect of patient readiness to change on early alliance and continuation in psychotherapy. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 43(2): 238-243.
Roffman J.L., Marci C.D., Glick, D.M., Dougherty D.D., & Rauch S.L. (2005). Neuroimaging and the functional neuroanatomy of psychotherapy. Psychological Medicine, 35:1-14.
Czech, S.J., Vernig, P.M., Glick, D.M., Katz, A.M., & Orsillo, S.M. (2010, June). Does values affirmation affect anticipatory and response anxiety to a stressful task? Poster presented at the World Congress of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies conference, Boston, MA.
Glick, D.M., & Orsillo, S.M. (2010, May). Relationships among academic procrastination, anxiety, and acceptance and mindfulness. Poster presented at the Association for Psychological Science conference, Boston, MA.
Theodore-Oklota, C.R., Glick, D.M., Demir, M.R., & Orsillo, S.M. (2008, November). The role of avoidant coping in the development of relational aggression. Poster presented at the Association for the Advancement of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy, Orlando, FL.
Glick, D.M., & Orsillo, S.M. (2008, August). Relationships among Social Anxiety, Self-focused Attention, and Experiential Distress and Avoidance. Poster presented at the American Psychological Association conference, Boston, MA.
Glick, D.M., & Orsillo, S.M. (2007, November). Relationships among social anxiety, self focused attention, and experiential avoidance. Poster presented at the Association for the Advancement of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy, Philadelphia, PA.
Glick, D.M., & Orsillo, S.M. (2007, November). The development of a measure of self-focused attention. Poster presented at the Association for the Advancement of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy, Philadelphia, PA.
Clinical: Individual and group psychotherapy broadly utilizing an existential/humanistic orientation and specifically implementing mindfulness – and acceptance-based interventions for individuals suffering from mood and anxiety disorders as well as issues related to anger, relationship stressors, adjustment difficulties, and loss/bereavement. Clinical supervisor for Psychology Fellows, Interns, and Practicum Students at VA Boston. Teaching multiple didactic seminars to Psychology Fellows and Interns, as well as Boston University Medical Center and Harvard South Shore Psychiatry Residents.
Dissertation Title: A Mindfulness Approach to Designing and Testing the Efficacy of a New Sexual Revictimization Prevention Program for College Women
Literature suggests that women with a history of childhood sexual assault (CSA) may engage in experientially avoidant behaviors that can contribute to an increased risk of revictimization later in life. This study involved designing and implementing a mindfulness-based program consisting of two, two-hour sessions. Participants consisted of college women with and without a history of CSA. The hypothesis was that women who participated in the mindfulness-based program will report lower incidents of sexual assault at the two-month follow-up compared to a wait-list. Specifically, women with a history of CSA who participated in the program will report lower incidents of revictimization at the two-month follow-up compared to those with a similar history on the wait-list. Although between-group differences were not significant, there was a trend suggesting that women with a history of CSA who participated in the program were less likely to be sexually assaulted (10% vs. 27.8%) and raped (0% vs. 9.5%) at 2 month follow-up, compared to the no-intervention control group.
Thesis Title: Sports Fans: Team Identification, Motives, and Self-Esteem
Investigated the relationship between sports team identification and traits such as self-esteem. Participants included college students and high school students in their senior year. Results suggested that there is a significant inverse relationship between the level of self-esteem in high school women and team identification in that those reporting high team identification also reported low self-esteem and feelings of self-worth.
Recent Publications and Presentations:
Kamholz, B.W., Liverant, G.I., Black, S.K., Aaronson, C., Hill, J.M., & Vielhauer, M. (2014). Beyond psychologist training: CBT education for psychiatry residents. The Behavior Therapist, 37, 218-226.
Hill, J. M., Vernig, P. M., Lee, J. K., Brown, C., & Orsillo, S. M. (in press). The development of a brief acceptance and mindfulness-based program aimed at reducing sexual revictimization among college women with a history of childhood sexual abuse. Journal of Clinical Psychology.
Kleespies, P. & Hill, J. (2011). Behavioral emergencies and crises. In D. H. Barlow (Ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Clinical Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.
Burns, S. M., Hough, S., Boyd, B. L., & Hill, J. (2010). Men’s adjustment to spinal cord injury: The unique contributions of conformity to masculine gender norms. American Journal of Men’s Health, 4, 157-166.
Burns, S. M., Boyd, B. L., Hill, J., & Hough, S. (2010). Psychosocial predictors of employment and disability among men living with spinal cord injury. Rehabilitation Psychology, 55, 81-90.
Burns, S. M., Hough, S., Boyd, B. L., & Hill, J. (2009). Men’s adherence to masculine norms for sexual prowess as a moderator of the relationship between sexual desire and depression following spinal cord injury. Sex Roles, 61 (1-2), 120-129.
Kalichman, S., Cain, D., Knetch, J., Hill, J. (2008). HIV/AIDS information needs of sexually transmitted infection clinic patients: Content analysis of questions asked during prevention counseling. Journal for Sex Education, 8(1), 11-23.
Kalichman, S., Cain, D., Knetch, J., Hill, J. (2005). Patterns of sexual risk behavior change among sexually transmitted infection clinic patients. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 34(3), 307-319.
Kamholz, B. W. (Chair), Liverant, G. I., & Hill, J. M. (2015) Training Psychiatry Residents in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapies: Practical Guidance and Strategies for Psychologists. Mini Workshop presented at the annual convention of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Chicago, IL.
Kamholz, B. W. (Chair), Liverant, G. I., Aaronson, C. J., Hill, J. M. (2015). Transdisciplinary education in cognitive-behavioral therapies (CBTs): Strategies for training psychiatry residents. Workshop presented at the annual convention of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Miami, FL.
Kamholz, B. W. (Chair), Liverant, G. I., & Hill, J. M. (2014) Beyond preaching to the choir: Practical approaches to training psychiatry residents in cognitive-behavioral therapies. Mini Workshop presented at the annual convention of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Philadelphia, PA.
Zimering, R., Kamholz, B., Vielhauer, M., Hill, J., Nelson, H. & Stead, C. (2013, July). Maximizing VA Mental Health Treatment Resources: Implementing Psychotherapy Service Agreements. Poster session presented at the American Psychological Association (APA) annual conference, Honolulu, HI.
Hill, J., Lee, J., Vernig, P., & Orsillo, S. (2008, November). An Acceptance-Based Risk
Reduction Program for Women with a History of Sexual Assault. Poster session presented at the meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT), Orlando, FL.
Current Position: Clinical psychologist at the Providence VA in Primary Care.
Internship: Northampton VA in 2009
Clinical and Research Interests: I am currently working in integrated Primary Care and Mental Health at the Providence VA and in this setting I provide empirically supported and short-term treatment for veterans presenting with acute psychological and medical concerns. I am particularly interested in integrating mindfulness and acceptance based interventions in coping and living with chronic pain, and I facilitate a chronic pain self management group using these principles.
Dissertation Title: The relationship between risky behaviors, experiential avoidance, and sexual victimization among college women.
Brief Description of Dissertation: The goal of this study was to prospectively examine the role of experiential avoidance (i.e., the unwillingness to remain in contact with private experiences, such as emotions, memories, and bodily sensations) as the underlying process involved in revictimization among undergraduate females with a history of sexual assault. The initial hypothesis of this study was that experiential avoidance would mediate the relationship between psychological distress associated with a sexual assault experience and risky behaviors which would ultimately predict revictimization. Suffolk University female freshman students completed measures assessing depression, substance abuse, high-risk sexual behavior, and victimization experiences in the beginning and end of the academic semester. A series of MANOVAs indicated that victimization groups did not differ on levels of depression or experiential avoidance at baseline; however, compared to non-victims, victims scored lower on one mindfulness factor. Victims reported greater engagement in risky behaviors compared to non-victims, and levels of harmful alcohol use and lifetime sexual partners were greatest among women with severe assault. No differences in risky behavior were found among women with multiple versus single assaults. Victims of assault during the study period differed from non-victims only in their level of alcohol use associated with dependency and consequences. Logistic regression revealed that experiential avoidance and alcohol use associated with dependence and consequences emerged as the only significant predictors in a model predicting history of victimization. Further, among all the variables of interest, only experiential avoidance and lifetime sexual partners contributed significantly to a model predicting a history of revictimization. Mediation analyses revealed that experiential avoidance did not mediate the relationship between risky behavior and revictimization.
ERP Title: Relationship of guilt, conscientiousness, and impulsivity to high-risk sexual practices in homosexual and heterosexual men.
Brief Description of ERP: Measures of predispositional guilt, risky sexual attitudes, behaviors, and communication were collected from 86 heterosexual and 81 homosexual men, and the relationship of guilt to promiscuous attitudes, high-risk sexual behaviors, and communication about risky sexual practices were examined. Compared to heterosexual men, homosexual men engaged in more high-risk behavior. In addition, a greater proclivity for guilt was related to less promiscuous attitudes toward sex, less risky sexual behavior, but more problems rebuffing unwanted sexual advances for both groups. Moreover, among heterosexual men, a greater proclivity for guilt is related to more reluctance to talk with prospective partners about HIV risk factors. The role of guilt was also compared to that of two personality variables (impulsivity and conscientiousness) that have received recent attention as underlying risky sexual attitudes and behaviors. Guilt showed more consistent relationships with risk factors than did impulsivity and conscientiousness.
Current Position: Dr. John J.B. Morgan Postdoctoral Fellow, The Family Institute at Northwestern University
Internship: Veteran's Affairs Greater Los Angeles Health Care System, Los Angeles Ambulatory Care Center
Clinical and Research Interests: My clinical and research interests are aimed at better understanding, and refining psychotherapy for anxiety disorders, with a particular interest in Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). I am interested in the psychopathological processes that maintain and exacerbate distress and impairment, and how these processes can be targeted through treatment with increased precision and potency. My work in the AME lab has focused on understanding the processes and mechanisms that serve to maintain GAD, as well as the utility of Acceptance-based Behavior Therapies (ABBTs) in advancing our treatment efforts.
Dissertation Title: Mindfulness and Psychological Flexibility: Examining Mechanisms of Mindfulness using a Modified Emotional Stroop Switching Task in an Analogue Sample with Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Theory and research suggest that Generalized Disorder (GAD) is characterized by a rigid, psychologically inflexible style of responding in the manner through which individuals regulate behavioral, emotional, and cognitive resources. Most notably, evidence for this position comes from experimental research using the Emotional Stroop paradigm. A consistent finding is that individuals with GAD display performance deficits in naming the ink color for words of a threatening meaning. Converging evidence from the neurosciences further support this position, as imaging studies suggest that individuals with GAD are not efficiently utilizing necessary brain structures involved in psychological flexibility. The present study investigated psychological flexibility as a potential mechanism of mindfulness in a sample with GAD symptoms using a modified Emotional Stroop Switching task. The purpose of the proposed study was twofold: 1) to further explore psychological inflexibility as a potential characteristic of GAD, and 2) to examine whether increased flexibility is a potential mechanism of action in mindfulness practice. Data were collected from individuals from the community meeting diagnostic criteria for GAD using a modified Emotional Stroop paradigm that also measured ability for switching. Results suggest that GAD may be characterized by an inflexible style of responding, and exposure to mindfulness may result in partial improvements in inhibition, but not in switching.
ERP Title: The Role of Experiential Avoidance in Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Theory and research suggest that treatments targeting experiential avoidance may enhance outcomes for patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The present study examined the role of experiential avoidance and distress about emotions in a treatment-seeking sample with a principal diagnosis of GAD compared with demographically matched nonanxious controls and sought to explore their shared relationship with two putative psychopathological processes in GAD: intolerance of uncertainty and worry. Patients with GAD reported significantly higher levels of experiential avoidance and distress about emotions compared with nonclinical controls while controlling for depressive symptoms, and measures of these constructs significantly predicted GAD status. Additionally, experiential avoidance and distress about anxious, positive, and angry emotions shared unique variance with intolerance of uncertainty when negative affect was partialed out, whereas only experiential avoidance and distress about anxious emotions shared unique variance with worry.
Recent Publications and Presentations:
Hill, J. M., Vernig, P. M., Lee, J. K., & Orsillo, S. M. (2011). The efficacy of a brief mindfulness-based program in reducing rates of sexual revictimization among college women. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 67(9), 969-980.
Michelson, S.E., Lee, J.K., Orsillo, S.M., & Roemer, L. (2011). The role of values-consistent behavior in generalized anxiety disorder. Depression and Anxiety, 28(5), 358-366.
Lee, J. K., Orsillo, S. M., Roemer, L., & Allen, L. B. (2010). Distress and avoidance in generalized anxiety disorder: Exploring the relationships with intolerance of uncertainty and worry. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 39, 126-136.
Roemer, L., Lee, J. K., Salters-Pedneault, K., Erisman, S. M., Orsillo, S. M., & Mennin, D. S. (2009). Mindfulness and emotion regulation difficulties in generalized anxiety disorder: Preliminary evidence for independent and overlapping contributions. Behavior Therapy, 40, 142-154.
Lee, J. K., & Vernig, P. M. (2009). Conceptual, methodological, and ethical challenges in internet-based data collection: Examples from the behavioral sciences. In M. Pagani (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Multimedia Technology and Networking 2nd Edition (pp. 240-246). Hershey, PA: Idea Group.
Lee, J. K., Fuchs, C., Roemer, L., & Orsillo, S. M. (2009). Cultural considerations in acceptance-based behavior therapy. In L. Roemer & S. M. Orsillo, Mindfulness and Acceptance-Based Behavioral Therapies in Practice (pp. 215-228). New York: Guilford.
Michelson, S.E., Lee, J.K., Orsillo, S.M., & Roemer, L. (2010, June). The role of value consistent behavior in generalized anxiety disorder. Poster presented at the 6th World Congress of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Boston, Massachusetts.
Jerram, M. W., Lee, J. K., Karpel, M. G., Fulwiler, C., Bhadelia, R. & Gansler, D. A. (2010, February). Examining the neural correlates of the color word interference test using voxel-based morphometry. Paper accepted for presentation at the 38th Annual Meeting of the International Neuropsychological Society, Acapulco, Mexico.
Berube, S. J., Vernig, P. M., Lee, J. K., & Orsillo, S. M. (2008, November). Values and positive outcome: The effects of values affirmation on psychological stress. Poster presented at the 42nd Annual Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Conference, Orlando, Florida.
Hill, J.M., Lee, J.K., Vernig, P.V., & Orsillo, S.M. (2008, November). An acceptance-based risk reduction program for women with a history of sexual assault. Poster presented at the 42nd Annual Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Conference, Orlando, Florida.
Borrego, J., Marlatt, G. A., Rucker, L., & Wilson, K. G. (2008, November). In J. K. Lee, & C. Fuchs (Chairs), Adapting acceptance and mindfulness-based treatments for racially and ethnically diverse underserved populations. Clinical roundtable discussion conducted at the 42nd Annual Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Conference, Orlando, Florida.
Keough, M., Rogee, R. D., Vernig, P. M., & Witte, T. (2008, November). In J. K. Lee, & P. M. Vernig (Chairs), Supercharging research using internet-based data collection methods: Methodological and ethical challenges. Panel discussion conducted at the 42nd Annual Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Conference, Orlando, Florida.
Michelson, S.E., Lee, J.K., Orsillo, S.M., & Roemer, L. (2008, November). The relationship between values in symptom severity, experiential avoidance and quality of life in generalized anxiety disorder. Poster presented at the 42nd Annual Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Conference, Orlando, Florida.
Current Position: Clinical Psychologist at Amplifying Performance, LLC. Boston, MA
Internship: James Madison University Counseling Center, Harrisonburg, VA
Postdoc: Tufts University Counseling CenterClinical and Research Interests:
ERP Title: An assessment of values-consistent behavior in Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Brief Description of ERP: The purpose of the current study was to examine potential differences in values consistency between individuals with and without Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), to explore the relationship between experiential avoidance, quality of life, and restriction in valued action, and to examine the efficacy of an acceptance-based behavior therapy (ABBT) on self-reported values consistent behavior. Participants with GAD reported significantly less values consistent behavior than those without the disorder. Further, values inconsistency was significantly correlated with experiential avoidance and diminished quality of life. An ABBT significantly improved the extent to which participants with GAD reported living consistently with their values.
Recent Publications and Presentations:
Margolis, S.E. & Orsillo, S. M. (2016). Acceptance and body dissatisfaction: examining the efficacy of a brief acceptance based intervention for body dissatisfaction in college women. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy. 44, 482-492.
I am originally from Ohio and attended The Ohio State University for undergrad. After living in different cities for internship and postdoc, I’ve settled in San Francisco where I am hoping to stay for the next several years. Outside of psychology, I enjoy reading science and science-fiction as well as watching sports. I spend most weekends either running or hiking along the pacific coast.
Current Position: Associate Director, Clinical Outcomes Research and Evaluation at Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical
Internship: Nationwide Children’s Hospital
Clinical and Research Interests: My research interests are in exploring how risk factors (i.e. peer relationships, risky behaviors) influence adolescent health behaviors and applying these findings to the development of acceptance-based presentation interventions. I am also interested in using mobile and web-based technology as a way to effectively disseminate interventions.
Dissertation Title: Project Compass: A Mindfulness-Based Program Aimed at Reducing the Impact of Relational Aggression
Developed an empirically and theoretically derived three session, group program aimed at increasing awareness of the form, frequency, and function of relational aggression. The program specifically underscored the negative consequences of avoidant coping, and encouraging values-driven, mindful behavior in social interactions.
ERP Title: Development and Psychometric Evaluation of the Emotional Reactivity and Numbing Scale (ERNS)
Examined reliability and validity of an instrument developed to assess hyperresponsivity and numbing of emotions in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a sample of trauma-exposed male and female veterans
Recent Publications and Presentations:
Theodore-Oklota, C., Humphrey, L, Wiesner, C., Schnetzler, G., Hudgens, S., Campbell, A. (in press).Validation of a treatment satisfaction questionnaire in non-Hodgkin lymphoma: assessing the change from intravenous to subcutaneous administration of rituximab .Patient Preference and Adherence
Armstrong, T. S., Bishop, A., Brown, P.D., Klein, M., Taphoorn, M.J., Theodore-Oklota, C., (2016). determining priority signs and symptoms for use as clinical outcomes assessments in trials including patients with malignant gliomas: Panel 1 Report. Neuro-Oncology, March; 18 Suppl 2:ii1-ii12.
Taphoorn M.J., Henriksson R., Bottomley A., Cloughesy T., Wick W., Mason WP., Saran F., Nishikawa R., Hilton M., Theodore-Oklota, C., Ravelo A., Chinot O.L., (2015). Health-Related Quality of Life in a Randomized Phase III Study of Bevacizumab, Temozolomide, and Radiotherapy in Newly Diagnosed Glioblastoma. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 1;33(19):2166-75.
Theodore-Oklota, C., Orsillo, S.M., Lee, J. K., Vernig, P. M. (2014) A pilot of an acceptance-based risk reduction program for relational aggression for adolescents. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, Volume 3, Issue 2, 109-116.
Stewart, A., Theodore-Oklota, C., Hadley, W., Brown, L.K. (2012). Manic episodes and sexual risk behavior among adolescents in mental health treatment. Journal Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, Volume 41, Issue 6, 803-810.
Orsillo, S. M., Theodore-Oklota, C., Luterek, J. A., & Plumb, J. C. (2007). The development and psychometric evaluation of the Emotional Reactivity and Numbing Scale (ERNS). Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 10, 830-836.
Rule S., Briones J., Smith R., Theodore Oklota C., Ngoh CA., Osborne S., Capochiani E., & Rummel M. Preference For Rituximab Subcutaneous (Sc) And Intravenous (Iv) Among Patients With Cd20+ Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (Nhl) Completing The Rasq Measure In Randomized Phase Iii Studies Prefmab And Mabcute. Poster presented at the annual European Congress of the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Wells T., Abetz-Webb L., Evans C.,& Theodore-Oklota C., (November 2014) Development Of A Connceptual Model For Pediatric Oncology: Results From A Review Of Qualitative Research Literature And Clinician Interviews. Poster presented at the annual European Congress of the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Bartley, K., Theodore-Oklota, C. & Campbell, A. (June, 2014). Conceptual Framework Characterizing Neurocognitive Burden Associated With Primary Glioblastoma Progression. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research, Montreal Canada.
Theodore-Oklota, C. & Orsillo, S. (2011, July). A Mindfulness-Based Program Aimed at Reducing the Impact of Relational Aggression. In Coyne, L. W. (Chair), Translating Research to Practice: Exploring ACT Constructs in Youth and Families, and Informing Interventions. Symposium submitted for presentation at the meeting of the Association of Contextual Behavioral Science, Parma, Italy.
Theodore-Oklota, C. R., Glick. D.M., Demir, M.R., & Orsillo, S. M. (November, 2008). The role of avoidant coping in the development of relational aggression. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Orlando, Fl.
Klump, M.C., Vernig, P.M., Theodore-Oklota, C.R., & Orsillo, S.M. (November, 2007). Emotional reactivity and avoidant coping in the prediction of PTSD diagnosis in a sample of bereaved veterans. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Philadelphia, PA.
Theodore-Oklota, C., (March 2015). Consideration of patient/family engagement in assessing the pediatric pipeline -- innovations in treatment research and development. Comprehensive Cancer Care for Children and Their Families, A Joint Workshop by the Institute of Medicine and American Cancer Society, National Academy of Sciences, Washington D.C.
Theodore-Oklota, C., (October 2014). Determining Brain Tumor Specific Signs, Symptoms, and Functions for use in Clinical Outcome Assessments, Jumpstarting Brain Tumor Drug Development Coalition/National Brain Tumor Society COA Endpoints Workshop, Bethesda Maryland.
Theodore-Oklota, C., (June 2014). Understanding the Necessity of Patient-Reported Outcomes (PROs) in Pediatric Drug Development: Avoiding Missed Opportunities Across Domains. 10th Annual Pediatric Clinical Trials Closing the Gap Between Regulatory Requirements, Study Development, and Execution of Trials, Philadelphia Pennsylvania.
I grew up in Colorado, and have always loved to explore the natural world (which I credit for my love of science). My interest in psychology led me to the University of Colorado, where I completed my undergraduate studies in 2003. Following that, I worked in the community behavioral health system in Denver for several years before moving to Boston to start graduate school at Suffolk. Since then, I have done clinical work in a variety of settings (inpatient, outpatient, residential, detoxification, and a summer camp), and worked to deepen my understanding of evidence-based practice in action. I completed my internship at Friends Hospital, and my postdoc at the Anxiety Treatment Center of Austin. Currently, I am the Chief Clinical Officer at Friends Hospital, where I supervise the psychology, social work, expressive art therapy, and residential services departments. I also serve on the board of the Philadelphia Behavior Therapy Association.
Current Position: Chief Clinical and Innovation Officer, Friends Hospital, Philadelphia, PA
Repique, R. J. R., Vernig, P. M., Lowe, J., Thompson, J. A., & Yap, T. L. (in press). Implementation of a recovery-oriented training program for psychiatric nurses in the inpatient setting: A mixed-methods hospital quality improvement study. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing.
Vernig, P. M., & Orsillo, S. M. (2015). Drinking motives and college alcohol problems: A prospective study. Journal of Substance Use, 20(5), 340-346.
Vernig, P. M., & Repique, R. J. R. (2015). Short Message Service can be a promising tool for psychiatric patients and clinicians. Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, 21(1), 31-33.
Theodore-Oklota, C., Lee, J. K., Vernig, P. M., & Orsillo, S. M. (2014). A pilot of an acceptance-based risk reduction program for relational aggression. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Sciences, 3(2), 109-116.
Hill, J. M., Vernig, P. M., Lee, J. K., Brown, C., & Orsillo, S. M. (2011). The development of a brief acceptance and mindfulness-based program aimed at reducing sexual revictimization among college women.Journal of Clinical Psychology, 67(9), 969-980.Vernig, P. M. (2011). Family roles in homes with alcohol dependent parents: An evidence-based review.Substance Use and Misuse, 46(4), 535-542.
S. J. Czech, S. J., Vernig, P. M., Glick, D. G., Katz, A. M., & Orsillo, S. M. (2010, June). Does values affirmation affect anticipatory and response anxiety to a stressful task? Poster presented at the World Congress of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Boston, MA.
I received my PhD from the State University of New York at Albany and completed an internship and post-doc at the National Center for PTSD – Behavioral Sciences Center at the Boston VA Healthcare Center. After a brief stint as an Assistant Professor at Oklahoma State University, I returned to the east coast to join the staff of the Women’s Health Sciences Center of the National Center for PTSD. Although I really enjoyed working with psychology interns and post-docs, my true passion is mentoring undergraduates and graduate students. Thus, I joined the faculty at Suffolk University in 2004 where I currently teach courses in evidence-based clinical practice, research methods and integrating acceptance and mindfulness into psychotherapy.
My work is aimed at the development, evaluation and dissemination of acceptance-based behavioral therapies for anxiety. I am also interested in experimental research focused on trying to better understand core processes underlying clinical problems such as cognitive fusion, experiential avoidance and values inaction. To get a better sense of the work I do, please click here for my cv. Also, check out the web pages of my current and former graduate students to see the kinds of projects we conduct.
Between teaching, conducting research and mentoring students and raising my two teen-aged children, I stay pretty busy. Yet, I also seem to find some time for gardening, reading, getting to the beach as much as I can and spending time with family and friends.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How can I find out whether Dr. Orsillo intends to take a student for the upcoming year?
Check out our departmental admission webpage.
Should I contact Dr. Orsillo directly to express my interest?
There is no need to contact me in advance of submitting your application to our graduate program. Unfortunately, given the volume of applicants to our program, I am unable to correspond via email with everyone who is interested. I honestly do not track who emails me in advance of applying and my decision to admit a student is based solely on their application. Please feel free to contact me if you have a genuine question, but don’t feel like you need to express interest in my work or ask me about my current research to help your application.
What type of applicant are you looking for?
I am most interested in students with strong academic credentials, outstanding letters of recommendation, solid research experience and a personal statement that clearly articulates the way in which your specific interests match with my areas of expertise. Applicants who are passionate about psychology, flexible, open to feedback, hard-working, and self-motivated are more likely to "fit" with my mentorship style.
How can I find out more about the doctoral program?
We keep a tremendous amount of very useful information on our public webpage. I encourage you to read over our resources and manuals.
Psychology majors who are juniors or seniors and who have successfully completed the course in research methods can apply to take an Independent Study Course (Psychology 510) for 1-4 credits. As part of this course, students become involved in ongoing research in the laboratory and experience hands-on learning as to what it is like to conduct research in the area of clinical psychology. Please contact Dr. Orsillo if you are interested in learning more about this course.
MotivationalInterviewing.org - resources for the treatment of substance use disorders using the Motivation Interviewing (MI) technique
CASAA Assessment Instruments - a listing of free, public domain substance use assessments developed by the Center for Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions at the University of New Mexico
NAADAC: The Association for Addiction Professionals
Withdrawal.org - common withdrawal symptoms, treatment and resources
SMART Recovery - an evidence-based alternative to 12-step groups built on cognitive behavioral therapy
Moderation Management - moderation focused self-help groups and resources for individuals suffering from alcohol use disorders