Prevention that works: Innovating interventions to combat anxiety in youth

ASU psychologists featured at upcoming meeting of the APA

July 24, 2019

Most cases of anxiety and depression among school-age children are untreated. Among those receiving treatment, prescriptions and counseling for pediatric anxiety are only 60% effective. In spite of there being more evidence-based intervention programs than ever before, they remain unused, particularly with ethnic minority youth and families.

The Arizona State University Department of Psychology is working to change that. The ASU Department of Psychology is not just focusing on anxiety interventions. Starting Aug. 22, 2019, the department will launch the Certificate in Applied Prevention Science. Photo by Charlein Gracia, Unsplash Download Full Image

Armando Pina, associate professor of psychology, will present on a new wave of evidence-based interventions for ethnic minority youth at the 2019 meeting of the American Psychological Association (APA) in August.

ASU’s Ryan Stoll, who recently earned his doctorate in psychology, also will be presenting at the APA meeting on brief and efficient evidence-based interventions for youth. Together, Pina and Stoll developed a brief intervention for anxiety. Over the past six years, they have worked to disseminate the intervention, called COMPASS for Courage, in schools. Stoll recently won the ASU Changemaker challenge for the project.

Related: Bringing the startup world to interventions

“Researchers remain mostly focused on testing interventions with Caucasians and in the last 10 years, there has been little to no progress in testing the effects of interventions with Asian American or Native American youth,” Pina said.

The APA is a large convention, and Pina hopes that presenting about the lack of progress to serve certain minority youth will help define steps to take in the future.

“There are systematic avenues researchers can take that are core to advancing intervention science for ethnic minority youth and reducing health disparities among diverse or underserved populations,” Pina added.

New graduate certificate program in prevention science

The ASU Department of Psychology is not just focusing on interventions for ethnic minorities or anxiety. Starting Aug. 22, 2019, the department will launch the Certificate in Applied Prevention Science (CAPS).

The CAPS program will prepare students for leadership jobs in their communities and at the state and federal levels. Students will learn how to find, evaluate and advocate for interventions that have been shown to prevent or reduce the severity of mental, emotional or behavioral disorders. Students who complete the five-course certification program will have an in-depth understanding of program evaluation, community building approaches and strategies for the sustainability of interventions that promote healthy social, emotional and interpersonal development in youth and positive family relationships.

Related: Helping children and families with a prevention science certificate

Robert Ewing

Marketing and Communications Manager, Department of Psychology


Where and with whom you drink matters

First-year ASU psychology graduate student wins national award for work on how social environment impacts alcohol consumption

July 24, 2019

Drinking alcohol alone can be a warning sign of alcohol abuse. But drinking in stimulating group environments can put people at risk for engaging in behaviors that have acute consequences like aggression or risky sexual behavior.

Given potential effects of the drinking environment, researchers in the Arizona State University Department of Psychology are trying to understand whether the context of where and when people drink alters how they respond to alcohol. The experiments take place in the Behavioral Alcohol Research for Clinical Advancement (BARCA) lab, led by William Corbin, professor of psychology. Jack Waddell Jack Waddell, a first-year graduate student who was recently acknowledged by the Research Society on Alcoholism as an RSA Memorial Award winner. Photo by Robert Ewing Download Full Image

Jack Waddell is a first-year graduate student in Corbin’s lab, and he was recently acknowledged by the Research Society on Alcoholism as an RSA Memorial Award winner. The award, given for the first time this year, recognizes promising alcohol researchers in honor of those researchers who have passed away.

“It is just so validating to receive this award as a first-year graduate student,” Waddell said. “It means my peers see potential in my work.”

It is uncommon for first-year graduate students to present work at a symposium, let alone be selected for research awards. At the Research Society on Alcoholism meeting, Waddell was one of two graduate students honored. The other was an upper-year graduate student from Memphis.

“Jack has been incredibly productive for a first-year graduate student. He already has two papers under review and defended his Master's prospectus before the end of his first year,” said Corbin, who presented Waddell with the award at the RSA conference. “Given Jack’s early trajectory, I think the sky is the limit for what he will do.”

At the annual meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism, Waddell presented findings about how the context of when and where people drink affects how they experience alcohol effects.

“We want to help people understand how a social environment impacts drinking behavior,” Waddell said.

Most research on how people consume alcohol is confined to a lab setting and usually involves one person. The experiments in the BARCA lab are different: they are similar to what people would experiment on a night out.

To study the effect of a social environment on alcohol consumption, Waddell looked at how aroused or alert people were and whether they were in a positive or negative mood. When people drank in a social setting, they became more positive, sociable and outgoing. But they also became more aggressive, rude, and demanding.

In addition to his research on alcohol consumption, Waddell has served as a valuable contributor to the new Online Addiction and Substance-Use Related Disorders Graduate Certificate offered through the ASU Department of Psychology.

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“Jack helped support the development of the graduate certificate program, which also gave him exposure to the required knowledge- and skills-based competencies needed in addictions treatment. He will begin applying these skills this fall at the Clinical Psychology Center, where he will be providing alcohol screening and intervention services for the ASU Alcohol Diversion Program,” said Matthew Meier, assistant clinical professor and director of the certificate program.  

Robert Ewing

Marketing and Communications Manager, Department of Psychology