B.A. Albany, SUNY; M.A., Ph.D. Hawaii
Psychology Internship Illinois at Chicago
Assistant Professor, R. Psych.
Cross-Appointment Faculty of Medicine
Cross-Appointment Faculty of Education
|Phone: (709) 864-4897|
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.
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.
Please check here to see if I am currently considering accepting new graduate students.
In collaboration, Dr. Peter Mezo and Dr. Sarah Francis in the Department of Psychology and participating faculty from the Faculty of Education are pleased to provide a specialized course of study in clinical science. This course of study is subsumed under the experimental psychology program and there is no official recognition of this program of study in clinical psychology by the Department of Psychology. Indeed, the position of many clinical psychology training programs is that these programs are not recognized as separate from other areas in psychology (e.g., cognitive, developmental, or behavioural neuroscience) by their host departments; rather, program designation occurs in relation to external accreditation bodies (e.g., the Canadian Psychological Association or the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science). This program of study is not currently accredited by the Canadian Psychological Association.
The clinical science/scientist-practitioner model defines clinical psychology as a branch of experimental psychology. As such, training as a clinical scientist is appropriate in a science-based experimental psychology degree and, therefore, is not offered in the context of a practice-specific clinical psychology degree. In the clinical science model, training in clinical psychology is first and foremost training as a psychological scientist, in which the application of clinical science is equivalent to ethical clinical practice. Understanding the scientific bases of various forms of clinical practice, particularly as they change over time, optimizes efforts to improve the lives of individuals and organizations affected by clinical practice. More specifically, the optimal applications of clinical psychology may occur in the context of evolving, adaptive, and responsive clinical scientific inquiry. Students in the clinical science program of study obtain generalist and specialized training in clinical psychology and develop clinical research programs that will keep them at the forefront of their chosen specialties for the duration of their professional careers. As with other areas of experimental psychology, we do not train students for specific careers. The emphasis of the clinical science program of study is to train clinical scientists who will foster a lifelong commitment to critical skepticism and empirical evaluation in a variety of professional psychology settings.
Successful matriculation from the M.Sc./Ph.D. in the clinical science program of study involves ongoing engagement in mentored clinical research and completion of the course curriculum. The course curriculum is offered through collaboration with the Faculty of Education, and students have the opportunity to work with faculty participating in the clinical science program of study, as well as faculty within the Department of Psychology as a whole and faculty in the Faculty of Education. Completion of the M.Sc./Ph.D. in the clinical science program of study requires that mentorship be offered by a participating faculty in this program of study as a primary supervisor or as a co-supervisor.
The clinical science program of study is designed to establish and promote the development of professional psychologists. This does not ensure eligibility to become a registered psychologist. Currently, this program of study is intended to satisfy four of the five competencies outlined by the Mutual Recognition Agreement of the Regulatory Bodies for Professional Psychologists in Canada. Plans to establish a practicum course are underway, so that all competency areas may be addressed. Although the M.Sc. is awarded en route to the Ph.D., this program of study is not designed to be a terminal Master’s program. For students interested in direct service as a professional psychologist, we would recommend inquiring about the M.Ed. in Counselling Psychology offered through the Faculty of Education.
In addition to Department of Psychology graduate degree courses and requirements in experimental psychology, the following courses are required for the clinical science program of study:
PSY6107 Introduction to Clinical Science
E6700 Ethical and Legal Issues in Counselling
E67XX One Faculty of Education Assessment Course
PSY6111 A Clinical Science Approach to Child and Adolescent Psychopathology and Psychological Treatments
PSY6110 A Clinical Science Approach to Adult Psychopathology and Psychological Treatments
As with all courses within the experimental psychology program, these courses may only be offered with faculty and other resources permitting. For further information, please contact either Dr. Sarah Francis (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Dr. Peter Mezo (email@example.com).
My research interests are detailed below, and I encourage interested students to read this information and contact me with any questions.
My work to date has focused on establishing the trajectory for a-term research program that investigates the transmission of anxious symptomatology from parents to children. This research is guided by three specific aims: (1) identifying parent, child, and family factors that play a role in the development and maintenance of anxiety disorders among youth, (2) developing psychometrically sound assessment instruments to validly measure these factors, and (3) using these assessment instruments to expand existing theories of the nature of anxiety among 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 (e.g., Beidel & Turner, 1997; Dadds & Barrett, 1996; Rapee, 1997). 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 (e.g., Cobham, 1998). 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. This research also seeks to elucidate the role of numerous other child, parent, and family characteristics in the transactional relationship between parent and child anxiety. Such characteristics include temperamental variables, such as positive and negative affectivity; general dimensions of parenting, such as warmth, consistency, and punishment and reward use; family environment variables, such as cohesion, organization, conflict, and control; and related psychological variables, including depression and anger. Studying child anxiety within this multifaceted context will allow for an identification of the intersection of heritable (temperament) and learned (family environment) variables in explaining the development and maintenance of anxiety disorders among youth. This research will provide the field with enhanced theoretical models of child anxiety by illustrating the interaction of child, parental, and familial factors in these disorders. Moreover, it will help health practitioners working with youth gain knowledge of which factors to target in order to ameliorate the impact of anxiety disorders on these individuals. Findings yielded from this line of research will augment and extend existing knowledge in this area as contributed by prominent investigators in the field (e.g., Barrett, Dadds, & Rapee, 1996; Cobham, Dadds, & Spence, 1999; Hudson & Rapee, 2001).
As a first step in executing this program of research, I began collecting data from a clinical sample in late September 2007. In collaboration with a group of child psychiatrists working with children and adolescents at the Janeway Child Health and Rehabilitation Centre, I have been collecting data on the Parental Beliefs about Anxiety Questionnaire (PBA-Q), which I developed as part of my dissertation research (Francis & Chorpita, 2010, 2011). To date, three posters based on these data were presented at the November 2008 meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) in Orlando, Florida, two posters were presented at the November 2009 ABCT convention in New York, one poster was presented at the November 2010 ABCT convention in San Francisco, California, and an additional poster has been accepted for presentation at the November 2011 ABCT convention in Toronto, Ontario. Additionally, three posters using these data were presented at the June 2010 meeting of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA). These posters examined: (a) the contributions of parental stress to childhood anxiety, (b) the predictive value of parental anxiety sensitivity for child anxiety, (c) the moderational role of behavioural disturbances on the relationship between parental anxiety and child social anxiety, (d) the role of parental temperament on child internalizing symptoms of anxiety and depression, (e) the specific roles parental anxiety and depression play in the child’s experience of anxiety sensitivity, (f) the role that parental beliefs about child anxiety play in child anxiety and child anxiety sensitivity, (g) the association between parent and child depressive cognitions, (h) the relationships amongst parental beliefs about anxiety, child anxiety sensitivity, and child anxiety, (i) the relationship between maternal stress, number of children, and maternal anxiety sensitivity, and (j) the association between peer problems and externalizing symptoms amongst youth and their parents’ experience of depressive symptoms. Ultimately, findings yielded from this research will provide further data with respect to the reliability and validity of the PBA-Q, while simultaneously speaking to the mediational role of parental beliefs about anxiety in the transmission of anxiety from parent to child. Data collected from this research project has allowed for the formation of a dataset which can be used to address questions related to factors associated with parent and child anxiety, such as anxiety sensitivity, negative affectivity, positive affectivity, and various sociodemographic characteristics (e.g., child age, family composition, socioeconomic status). External funding from the Janeway Foundation was awarded to provide financial support for this research. With respect to obtaining data on the PBA-Q from a community sample, multiple schools in the Eastern School District of St. John’s, Newfoundland, have participated in data collection since the fall of 2008, and data collection is planned to conclude in the fall of 2011.
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. Funds from Memorial University’s SSHRC/VP Research Grant have been obtained to support a pilot project of this research, ethical approval for the project has been obtained, and data collection commenced in the winter of 2011 in St. John’s local area schools.
Publications (*Indicates student co-authors)
MacKenzie, M. B.*, Mezo, P. G., & Francis, S. E. (in press). A conceptual framework for understanding self-regulation in adults. New Ideas in Psychology.
Noël, V.,* Francis, S. E., Williams-Outerbridge, K.,* & Fung, S. L.* (in press). Catastrophizing as a predictor of depressive and anxious symptoms in children. Cognitive Therapy and Research. doi:10.1007/s10608-011-9370-2
Francis, S. E., Ebesutani, C., & Chorpita, B. F. (in press). 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. doi: 10.1177/1063426610387607
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Professional Presentations (since 2006) (*Indicates student co-authors)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.