Clinical Psychology
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Christianne Esposito-Smythers

Christianne Esposito-Smythers

Christianne Esposito-Smythers

Associate Professor

Clinical Psychology: adolescent suicide, adolescent substance abuse, development of cognitive behavioral prevention and intervention programs for adolescent mental health problems

Dr. Christianne Esposito-Smythers received a B.A. from Lafayette College in 1995 where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a double major in Psychology and English. She received her M.S. in 1997 and her Ph.D. in 2000 in Clinical Psychology (Child Track) from Virginia Tech. She completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Clinical Child Psychology at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University from 2000-2001. She completed a T32 NIAAA funded Postdoctoral Fellowship in alcohol intervention research at the Brown University Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies from 2001-2003. After completing this fellowship, she joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. She left Brown Medical School to join the Clinical Psychology faculty at George Mason University in 2008. Dr. Esposito-Smythers is currently an Associate Professor in the Psychology Department at George Mason University as well as an adjunct faculty in the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences at Brown University. She is also a Licensed Clinical Psychologist.

Dr. Esposito-Smythers’ research interests include the study of social cognitive processes associated with the development of adolescent suicidality, depression, and substance abuse. She is also interested in the design and application of cognitive behavioral treatment and prevention protocols for adolescent mental health problems and high risk behaviors. Dr. Esposito-Smythers’ research has been funded by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Adolescent Medicine Trials Network for HIV/AIDS. Her papers have appeared in the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Journal of Traumatic Stress, Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior, American Journal on Addictions, Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, and others. Dr. Esposito-Smythers is on the editorial board for Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology and the Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Selected Publications

Donaldson, D., Spirito, A., & Esposito-Smythers, C. (2005). Treatment for adolescents following a suicide attempt: Results of a pilot trial. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 44, 113-120.  doi: 10.1097/00004583-200502000-00003

Esposito-Smythers, C., Spirito, A., Kahler, C. W., Hunt, J., & Monti, P. (2011). Treatment of co-occurring substance abuse and suicidality among adolescents: A randomized trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 79, 728–739. doi: 10.1037/a0026074 PMC3226923

Esposito-Smythers, C., Walsh, A., Spirito, A., Rizzo, C., Goldston, D., & Kaminer, K.  (2012). Working with the suicidal client who also abuses substances. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 19, 245-255.  doi: 10.1016/j.cbpra.2010.11.004 PMC3510478

Esposito-Smythers, C. Brown, L.K., Wolff, J., Xu, J. Thorton, S., & Tidey, J.  (2014). Integrated cognitive-behavioral and contingency management intervention for HIV infected young adults: Results of an open pilot trial. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 46, 244-250.doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2013.07.008. PMC23988190

Esposito-Smythers, C., Weismoore, J., Zimmermann, R.P., & Spirito, A. (2014). Suicidal behaviors among children and adolescents.In M. Nock (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Suicide and Self-Injury. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, Inc.

Grants and Fellowships

Integrated Mental Health Treatment and HIV Prevention for Court Involved Youth

R01MH087520 (Brown, PI; Esposito-Smythers, Co-I)

National Institute of Mental Health

Aim: Compare the relative efficacy of an integrated mental health treatment and HIV prevention program to standard-of-care mental health treatment for 150 court involved youth through the Fairfax County Juvenile Court and the Rhode Island Family Court.

Dates of grant: 7/1/10-6/30/15

Total costs: $3,849,664

Role: Co-Investigator

PI/Co-Investigators: Larry Brown, M.D. (PI), Sarah Fischer, Ph.D., Marina Tolou-Shams, Ph.D., Wendy Hadley, Ph.D., & Ronald Seifer, PhD.


Intensive Outpatient Protocol for High Risk Suicidal Teens

1R01MH097703 (Esposito-Smythers/Spirito, Multiple PIs)

National Institute of Mental Health

Aim: Compare the efficacy of an intensive outpatient cognitive behavioral treatment protocol for psychiatrically hospitalized adolescents with suicidal behavior to standard care in a Stage II randomized clinical trial.

Dates of grant: 7/1/12-6/30/17           

Total costs: $3,550,870

Role: Multiple PI with Anthony Spirito, Ph.D.

Co-Investigators: Jennifer Wolff, Ph.D., Daniel Dickstein, M.D., Shirley Yen, Ph.D., Bob Stout, Ph.D.,

Courses Taught

Psyc 810: Psychological Assessment I

Psyc 811: Psychological Assessment II

Psyc 861: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Youth

Psyc 325: Abnormal Psychology


1995 B.A. Psychology/English, Lafayette College

1997 M.S. Clinical Psychology, Virginia Tech

2000 Ph.D. Clinical Psychology, Virginia Tech

Recent Presentations

Esposito-Smythers, C. & Fisher, S. (2013, July). CBT Skills To Enhance Mindfulness and Adolescent Well-Being. Workshop presented at the The Science of Well-Being: Interventions for Children, Adolescents, and Families International Symposium, Sophia, Bulgaria. 

Sprito A. & Esposito-Smythers, C. (2014, August). Project InVest. In G. Diamond (Chair), State of the art treatment and research for suicidal adolescents. Symposium conducted at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Washington, D.C. 

Esposito-Smythers, C., Hadley, W., Brown, L.K., Curby, T., Short, J., Weismoore, J., Miller, A., Schaefer, K., MacNeil, L., & Perloe, A. (2014, June).  Alcohol, suicide, and HIV prevention for teens in mental health treatment: Preliminary results of a clinical trial. In C. Esposito-Smythers (Chair), Socially based brief interventions for adolescents and emerging adults: outcomes and mechanisms of change. Symposium conducted at the annual meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism, Seattle, WA. 

Dissertations Supervised

Julie T. Weismoore, A Proposed Model of Non-suicidal Self-injury, Negative Life Events, Coping, and Emotional Regulation (2011)

Adam Miller, A Formal Test of the Interpersonal Psychological Theory of Suicide and a Closer Look at the Role of Social Support in Adolescent Suicidal Ideation and Behavior (2014)

Karen Schaefer, Suicidal Ideation in a U.S. Jail: Demographic and Psychiatric Correlates and a Test of Baumeister's Escape Theory (2014)

Laura Martinson, A Longitudinal Examination of the Association Between Parenting Behavior, Social-Emotional Coping, and Adolescent Disordered Eating (2015)

Alexandra Perloe, A Longitudinal Examination of the Association Between Non-Suicidal Self-Injury, Emotional Intelligence, and Family Context in Adolescents (2015)

Bethany Rallis, A Brief Peer Gatekeeper Suicide Prevention Training: Preliminary Examination of Efficacy and Individual Factors That Influence Outcomes (2016)