Session: Aaron Rosen Lecture (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

64 Aaron Rosen Lecture


Gail Steketee, PhD, Boston University
Friday, January 15, 2010: 1:15 PM-2:15 PM
Grand Ballroom B (Hyatt Regency)
Clinical research on mental health problems is developmental in nature. First we need a solid grasp of what’s wrong (how the symptoms work in real time—the “what, when, where”). This help us develop working models to explain the “how and why” of the symptoms, in my case for obsessive compulsive spectrum conditions. How did the negative emotion (anxiety, depression, guilt) develop? Why does it persist? When did the behavior become problematic? What happens if the person tries to resist? After we clinical researchers “get it” on this basic level, we try to develop interventions that directly target what we think is wrong. This process is quite engaging, and fortunately often leads to effective interventions that are demonstrable empirically, first in small samples and then in larger and more diverse ones. After the initial excitement of finding an effective treatment, we quickly begin to worry about who is not benefitting and why. This leads to studies of predictors, revisions to the model and to the therapy methods. Hopefully, these produce even greater efficacy, and maybe even cost effectiveness. Inevitably, the next set of questions arise – How do we get the word out? Can we get clinicians and clinics to adopt the new evidence-based intervention? I’ve had the pleasure of doing clinical research in anxiety and obsessive compulsive spectrum conditions for more than three decades with outstanding colleagues across disciplines. I hope to share a little of this journey.
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