Research Program Overview

Research in our lab focuses broadly on the nature and treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and other anxiety-related problems. It is based on a cognitive-behavioral framework emphasizing the role of mistaken beliefs and maladaptive rituals and “safety behaviors” in the development and maintenance of clinical anxiety problems. This framework guides two areas of research:


Cognitive and Behavioral Processes in Anxiety Disorders

Our lab’s work on OCD and other anxiety disorders examines the cognitive and behavioral factors that are involved in the development and maintenance of OCD and other anxiety (and related) disorders. We are also interested in the factors that lead to the development of maladaptive beliefs which underlie anxiety problems. For example, what role do early experiences, family factors, and other factors (such as religious beliefs) play in the development of these problems? Understanding these phenomena may help in better understanding the causes of anxiety disorders, identifying factors that make one vulnerable to developing these conditions, and in developing better treatments. We are currently studying these processes in postpartum OCD.


Assessment, Treatment, and Prevention of Anxiety Disorders

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and certain types of medication can be effective for anxiety disorders, but not everyone gets better. My research addresses possible ways to improve CBT, including how to make it more accessible, how to involve a patient’s significant other in therapy, and how to improve the assessment and conceptualization of anxiety and OCD. Recently we developed a new assessment tool for measuring OCD symptoms, the Dimensional Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (DOCS). We are also interested in developing prevention programs for anxiety disorders and OCD.