Please Enter a Search Term

Sarah Francis

B.A. Albany, SUNY; M.A., Ph.D. Hawaii

Psychology Internship Illinois at Chicago

 

Associate Professor, R. Psych.

Cross-Appointment Faculty of Medicine

Cross-Appointment Faculty of Education

 
Office: SN3082
Phone: (709) 864-4897
Email: sfrancis@mun.ca
Website: http://www.mun.ca/psychology/miriam/home/
 
Affiliations: Clinical

 

Education and Training

I received my Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. I completed a clinical internship (residency) at the University of Chicago Illinois, Institute for Juvenile Research and subsequently completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Judge Baker Children’s Center, Harvard Medical School. My research and clinical training have been consistent with the goals of the Clinical Science Model of clinical psychology. Specifically, I identify strongly with the cognitive behavioural tradition in my approach to studying and understanding psychopathology.

Student Mentoring

Undergraduate:
I am typically open to working with dedicated undergraduate students who have a genuine interest in acquiring research experiences in psychology. I am also open to supervising undergraduate honours’ theses. Potential undergraduate research experiences that are available include preparing data for analysis, conducting literature reviews, and gaining an in-depth understanding of the research process in psychology.

Graduate:
Please check here to see if I am currently considering accepting new graduate students.

My research interests are detailed below, and I encourage interested students to read this information and contact me with any questions.

Research Interests

My research program has focused on three areas of inquiry, namely, (1) the transmission of anxious symptomatology from parents to children, (2) the role of anxiety sensitivity in the transmission of anxious cognitions and behaviours from parents to children, and (3) the prevention of anxiety in children and adolescents.

Heritability studies, learning theory, and social-cognitive theories have provided a wealth of information with respect to better understanding factors that initiate and sustain anxiety. However, few clinically useful assessment instruments that are specifically applicable to youth and families have emerged out of this body of research, despite the articulation of a need for such instruments. As such, a primary focus of this work is to develop instruments designed to measure familial psychosocial variables relevant to the development and maintenance of anxiety disorders among youth. In particular, these instruments will be designed for ease of use by clinicians to identify targets of treatment and measure treatment progress, both during and following treatment.

One key part of this intergenerational transmission research is to develop a parent-report instrument designed to assess parental beliefs about child anxiety that serve to initiate or sustain heightened levels of anxious symptomatology. Toward this end, I developed the Parental Beliefs about Anxiety Questionnaire. The PBA-Q assesses specific cognitions that parents might have in relation to their child’s experience of symptoms of anxiety. Initial psychometric evaluation of this instrument indicated that it demonstrated good reliability and validity in a clinical sample of children and adolescents, correlating with both parental anxiety and child anxiety. Moreover, the construct of parental beliefs about anxiety was found to mediate the relationship between parental and child anxiety, such that this construct appears to be one of the factors that explain the transmission of anxious beliefs and behaviours from parents to their children.

Continued investigation of the PBA-Q seeks to evaluate its reliability and validity in additional clinical samples as well as normal samples of youth. Further study of the mediational role of parental beliefs about anxiety in the transmission of anxious symptomatology from parent to child also seeks to study the role of this construct in the context of other related variables, including parental and child anxiety sensitivity.

The construct of parental beliefs about anxiety refers to specific beliefs that parents might hold about their child’s experience of anxiety, particularly the notion that anxiety is harmful for the child. This construct is closely related to the construct of anxiety sensitivity, which is defined as the fear of anxiety-related symptoms (e.g., a fast beating heart) and the consequences that may follow from these symptoms (e.g., a heart attack). However, parental beliefs focuses on the harmful nature of symptoms of anxiety for the child rather than for the individual him or herself. As such, a very salient area of inquiry is the extent to which parental beliefs about anxiety is related to the parent’s own anxiety sensitivity and how parental anxiety sensitivity relates to not only child anxiety but to child anxiety sensitivity as well. Accordingly, the next step in my program of research is to examine the construct of anxiety sensitivity in both parents and their children in the context of a network of related variables, including temperamental, cognitive, and behavioural risk factors. The intent of this line of research is to not only gain a contextualized understanding of anxiety sensitivity amongst children and adolescents, but to also evaluate parental contributions to this construct and to the child’s experience of symptoms of anxiety.

Finally, seminal work on the prevention of anxiety in children was initiated in Australia (The FRIENDS Program; Shortt, Barrett, & Fox, 2001; Barrett, Farrell, Ollendick, & Dadds 2006), and has subsequently been implemented in multiple countries throughout the world, including New Zealand, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and Canada. Researchers in these varied cultural and sociodemographic regions are currently working to evaluate the efficacy, effectiveness, and applicability of this primary prevention program for youth in real-world settings. I plan to engage in this ongoing effort to institute universal primary prevention programs for childhood anxiety by investigating the ecological validity and generalizability of this program when implemented in the Newfoundland and Labrador school-aged population. Specifically, I will be assessing key parental (depression, anxiety, stress, anxiety sensitivity, beliefs about anxiety) and child (anxiety, depression, anxiety sensitivity, strengths and difficulties) factors to evaluate not only the effect of this prevention program on child functioning (assessing both symptom variables as well as protective factors such as resiliency, coping, and self-concept) but also to investigate whether parental factors play a role in determining child responses to the program. I also plan to evaluate the social validity and acceptability of this program for both children and their parents and to assess the fidelity of the group facilitators to the prevention program protocol.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles (*Indicates student co-authors)

  1. Francis, S. E. (in press). The role of parental anxiety sensitivity in parent reports of child anxiety in treatment seeking families. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry. doi: 10.1177/1359104512470055
  2. Noël, V. A.*, Lewis, K. M.*, Francis, S. E., & Mezo, P. G. (in press). Relationships between the multiple dimensions of anxiety sensitivity and symptoms of anxiety and depression in men and women. Journal of Cognitive and Behavioral Psychotherapies.
  3. Francis, S. E., Ebesutani, C., & Chorpita, B. F. (2012). Differences in levels of functional impairment and rates of serious emotional disturbance between youth with internalizing and externalizing disorders when using the CAFAS or GAF to assess functional impairment. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 20, 226-240. doi: 10.1177/1063426610387607
  4. Francis, S. E., Mezo, P. G., & Fung, S. L.* (2012). Self-control training in children: A review of interventions for anxiety and depression and the role of parental involvement. Psychotherapy Research, 22, 220-238. doi:10.1080/10503307.2011.637990
  5. MacKenzie, M. B.*, Mezo, P. G., & Francis, S. E. (2012). A conceptual framework for understanding self-regulation in adults. New Ideas in Psychology, 30, 155-165. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.newideapsych.2011.07.001
  6. Mezo, P. G., & Francis, S. E. (2012). Modeling the interrelationship of learned resourcefulness, self-management, and affective symptomatology. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 34, 11-21. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10862-011-9264-3
  7. Noël, V.,* Francis, S. E., Williams-Outerbridge, K.,* & Fung, S. L.* (2012). Catastrophizing as a predictor of depressive and anxious symptoms in children. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 36, 311-320. doi:10.1007/s10608-011-9370-2
  8. Noël, V.,* & Francis, S. E. (2011). A meta-analytic review of the role of child anxiety sensitivity in child anxiety. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 39, 721-733. doi:10.1007/s10802-011-9489-3
  9. Francis, S. E., & Chorpita, B. F. (2011). Parental beliefs about child anxiety as a mediator of parent and child anxiety. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 35, 21-29. doi:10.1007/s10608-009-9255-9
  10. Francis, S. E., & Noël, V.* (2010). Parental contributions to child anxiety sensitivity: A review and recommendations for future directions. Child Psychiatry and Human Development, 41, 595-613. doi:10.1007/s10578-010-0190-5
  11. Williams, K.,* & Francis, S. E. (2010). Parentification and psychological adjustment: Locus of control as a moderating variable. Contemporary Family Therapy, 32, 231-237. doi:10.1007/s10591-010-9123-5
  12. Francis, S. E., & Chorpita, B. F (2010). Development and evaluation of the Parental Beliefs about Anxiety Questionnaire. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 32, 138-149. doi:10.1007/s10862-009-9133-5
  13. Weisz, J. R., Francis, S. E., & Bearman, S. K. (2010). Assessing secondary control and its association with youth depression symptoms. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 38, 883-893. doi:10.1007/s10802-010-9440-z
  14. Chorpita, B. F., Taylor, A. A., Francis, S. E., Moffitt, C., & Austin, A. A. (2004). Efficacy of Modular Cognitive Behavior Therapy for childhood anxiety disorders. Behavior Therapy, 35, 263-287. doi:10.1016/S0005-7894(04)80039-X
  15. Feldman, L. B., Soltano, E. G., Pastizzo, M. J., & Francis, S. E. (2004). What do graded effects of semantic transparency reveal about morphological processing? Brain Language. Special Third International Conference on the Mental Lexicon, 90, 17-30.
  16. Chorpita, B. F., Yim, L., Moffitt, C., Umemoto, L. A., & Francis, S. E. (2000). Assessment of symptoms of DSM-IV anxiety and depression in children: A Revised Child Anxiety and Depression Scale. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 38, 835-855. doi:10.1016/S0005-7967(99)00130-8

Book Chapters

  1. Higa-McMillan, C. K., Francis, S., & Chorpita, B. F. (in press). Anxiety disorders. In E. J. Mash & R. Barkley (Eds.), Child Psychopathology, Third Edition. New York: Guilford.
  2. Chorpita, B. F. & Francis, S. E. (2005). Schedules of reinforcement. In M. Hersen (Series Ed.) & A. M. Gross & R. S. Drabman (Vol. Eds.), Encyclopedia of behavior modification and cognitive behavior therapy, Vol. 2: Child clinical applications (pp. 1013-1017). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  3. Francis, S. E., & Chorpita, B. F. (2003). Behavioral assessment of children in outpatient settings. In M. Hersen (Series Ed.) & S. N. Haynes & E. M. Heiby (Vol. Eds.), The comprehensive handbook of psychological assessment, Vol. 3: Behavioral assessment (pp. 291-319). New York: Wiley.

Professional Presentations (since 2006) (*Indicates student co-authors)

  1. Noël, V. A.*, Francis, S. E., & Tilley, M. A.* (2013, November). IPPA-R adapted sibling scale. Poster accepted for presentation at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Nashville, TN.
  2. Tilley, M. A.*, Noël, V. A.*, & Francis, S. E. (2013, November). Examining the relationship between the quality of sibling relationships and a child’s feelings of self-worth. Poster accepted for presentation at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Nashville, TN.
  3. Rowsell, M.*, Noël, V. A.*, Francis, S. E., & Doyle, S.* (2013, June). Assessing family and cognitive variables in child social anxiety. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Psychological Association, Quebec City, QC.
  4. Forristall, S.*, Noël, V. A.*, & Francis, S. E. (2012, June). Examining voluntary coping strategies as a mediator of the association between peer relationships and depressive symptoms in early adolescence. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Psychological Association, Halifax, NS.
  5. Fung, S. L.*, Noël, V. A.*, & Francis, S. E. (2011, November). An investigation of parental overprotection and child anxiety: The effects of age and gender. Poster accepted for presentation at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Toronto, ON.
  6. Noël, V. A.*, Fung, S. L.*, & Francis, S. E. (2011, November). Parent and child depression: The cross generation relationship in a clinical and non-clinical sample. Poster accepted for presentation at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Toronto, ON.
  7. Fung, S. L.*, Noël, V. A.*, & Francis, S. E. (2011, June). Peer problems and externalizing disorders in children: Their combined aversive effect on parental depression. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Psychological Association, Toronto, ON.
  8. Noël, V. A.*, Fung, S. L.*, Francis, S. E., & Williams-Outerbridge, K.* (2011, June). The important role of the context of cognitive errors in depressive symptoms in children. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Psychological Association, Toronto, ON.
  9. Williams-Outerbridge, K.*, Francis, S. E., Noël, V. A.*, & Hall, J. (2011, June). Understanding childhood parentification in the context of family functioning: An empirical investigation. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Psychological Association, Toronto, ON.
  10. Fung, S. L.*, Noël, V. A.*, & Francis, S. E. (2010, November). The relationship among parental beliefs about anxiety, child anxiety sensitivity, and child anxiety. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, San Francisco, CA.
  11. Noël, V. A.*, Francis, S. E., & Williams, K.* (2010, November). Catastrophizing: A predictor of Depressive Symptoms in Children. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, San Francisco, CA.
  12. Fung, S. L.*, Francis, S. E., & Noël, V.* (2010, June). The influence of maternal stress and number of children on maternal anxiety sensitivity (AS). Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Psychological Association, Winnipeg, MB.
  13. Noël, V.*, Francis, S. E., Williams, K.*, & Fung, S. L.* (2010, June). Factors associated with academic performance in children diagnosed with a mental disorder. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Psychological Association, Winnipeg, MB.
  14. Williams, K.*, Noël, V.*, & Francis, S. E. (2010, June). An examination of familial structure and depressive symptoms in children. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Psychological Association, Winnipeg, MB.
  15. Noël, V.*, Hall, J.*, & Francis, S. E. (2009, November). Does parental anxiety contribute uniquely to child anxiety sensitivity? Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, New York, NY.
  16. Williams, K.*, Francis, S. E., & Hall, J. (2009, November). Investigating the relationship between parental affect and child internalizing disorders. Poster accepted for presentation at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, New York, NY.
  17. Williams, K.*, Francis, S. E., & Short, M. M. (2009, June). Psychosocial variables underlying the relationship between childhood parentification and adjustment in early adulthood: An exploratory study. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Psychological Association, Montréal, QC.
  18. Duffett, M. I.*, Francis, S. E., Noël, V. A.*, Lougheed, M. H.*, Bonnell, W., & Rajan, R. (2008, November). Predicting child anxiety: The influence of parental beliefs about anxiety and parental stress. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Orlando, FL.
  19. Ebesutani, C., Francis, S. E., & Chorpita, B. F. (2008, November). CAFAS assessment strategies: Assessing functional impairment along internalizing and externalizing domains. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Orlando, FL.
  20. Noël, V. A.*, Francis, S. E., Brinston, H.*, White, H., St. John, K. (2008, November). Parental anxiety sensitivity: A predictor of childhood anxiety? Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Orlando, FL.
  21. Noël, V.*, Hall, J., & Francis, S. E. (2008, November). The relationship between parental affect and disruptive behaviour in predicting child anxiety. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Orlando, FL.
  22. Francis, S. E., Bearman, S. K., Gallo, K., & Weisz, J. R. (2006, November). The Primary Control Scale and the Secondary Control Scale for Children: Can predictors of childhood depression be measured via self-report instruments? Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Chicago, IL.

 

Share