Support teaching, research, and patient care.
The focus of my career has been on research, teaching, and clinical service in the area of psychotherapy approaches for treating suicidal behavior in adolescents, with some additional work on suicidal adults. I have been dedicated to the “scientist-practitioner” model, in which my research and clinical work reciprocally inform and enhance each other. I have been fortunate to have obtained a significant amount of both research and clinical experience with suicidal behavior, an understudied area in which relatively few people receive specialized training. Despite the fact that suicide is the third leading cause of death among 10-14 year-olds and the second leading cause of death among 15-24 year-olds (CDC, 2015), there is surprisingly little research on effective psychosocial treatments for these youth. It is my mission to continue to contribute to the research literature in this area, as well as to provide high quality, empirically informed training in suicide assessment and treatment to therapists in training and to mental health professionals in the community. Treating suicidal behavior is one of the most difficult challenges faced by clinicians and the loss of a young person by suicide is a devastating outcome. My goals for my research, teaching, and clinical service are to: a) have a broad impact on the field in terms of developing empirically-supported interventions for adolescent suicide attempters, b) disseminate these interventions into the community, c) increase the quality of service provided to suicidal patients by the mental health professionals I have trained (and indirectly, as those I have trained go on to train others), and ultimately, d) prevent adolescent suicide and suicide attempts.
The focus of my research is on adolescent suicidal and self-harm behavior. I am currently one of four Principal Investigators of a multisite NIMH-sponsored RCT of DBT for adolescents at high risk for suicide (NCT01528020: Collaborative Adolescent Research on Emotions and Suicide [CARES], PI: Linehan, McCauley, Berk, & Asarnow) aimed at evaluating the efficacy of DBT with adolescents compared to a combined individual and group supportive therapy control condition (IGST).
Collaborative Adolescent Research on Emotions and Suicide
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents in the US yet there is a
paucity of research on effective treatments for this population. The primary aim of the
research described in this application is to evaluate the efficacy of dialectical behavior
therapy (DBT) for suicidal adolescents. DBT has an empirical track record with suicidal
adults of reducing the incidence, frequency and medical risk of suicide attempts and
non-suicidal self-injuries among individuals meeting criteria for borderline personality
disorder (BPD). While DBT is widely used in the community with suicidal adolescents,
particularly those with difficulties characteristic of BPD such as poor emotion regulation
and impulse control, no randomized trial of DBT with suicidal adolescents has ever been
conducted. And, while non-randomized trials indicate that the intervention is both safe and
effective, without a randomized trial the investigators simply do not know whether DBT for
suicidal adolescents is efficacious or not. Given the severity of the problem and the lack of
alternative treatments for high risk adolescents, addressing this question is of great
importance. The second aim of the research is to analyze mediators of reduced suicidal and
self-injurious behaviors in adolescents. 170 adolescents at two sites (Seattle and Los
Angeles) will be randomized to DBT or Individual and Supportive Group Therapy (IGST). Both
treatments include 6 months of individual and group treatment and adolescents and a parent
complete 5 assessments over a 1-year period.
Stanford is currently not accepting patients for this trial.
For more information, please contact Spectrum Child Health, 650-724-1175.
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