adolescent suicide, adolescent substance abuse, development of cognitive behavioral prevention and intervention programs for adolescent mental health problems
Dr. Esposito-Smythers will be accepting a new student for Fall of 2024.
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 (GMU) in 2008. Dr. Esposito-Smythers is currently a Professor in the Psychology Department and Director of the new Center for Evidence-Based Behavioral Health at Mason. A primary mission of this Center is to support research to develop, test, and implement culturally responsive evidence-based behavioral health interventions in community settings. Additionally, she is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist.
Dr. Esposito-Smythers’ research interests include the the dissemination and implementation of culturally responsive evidence-based behavioral health interventions in community-based settings. She is also interested in the development and testing of cognitive-behavioral, family-focused, interventions for adolescent suicidal behavior, depression, substance abuse, and other high risk behaviors. Additionally, she studies mechanisms that underlie improvement in the context of these interventions. Her 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 Behavior Research and Therapy, Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Journal of Traumatic Stress, Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior, Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, American Journal on Addictions, Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, and many other journals. She has also served on the Scientific Advisory Council for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Dr. Esposito-Smythers uses her clinical research expertise to improve the lives of youth and families in her local community via multiple clinical research contracts. She leads the Fairfax Consortium for Evidence-Based Practice which offers training in evidence-based behavioral health interventions for youth mental health difficulties to clinicians who work with youth and families. This Consortium also offers consultation, outcome assessment, and implementation support. She also co-leads the Northern VA Regional Consortium for Evidence-Based Practice, which offers a similar service with a focus on training in trauma treatments. She also contracts with the Inova Kellar Center to improve the quality of youth mental health services through the implementation of measurement-based care. Additionally, she has served on the Fairfax County Youth Suicide Review Team and multiple Fairfax County workgroups dedicated toward improving access to evidence-based assessment and treatment for youth and families. Her work has been recognized via the “2019 George Mason University Earl C. Williams Presidential Medal for Social Impact” and a “County of Fairfax Team Excellence Award.”
Selected Manuscripts (* = graduate student author)
*Maultsby, K., *López Jr., R., Wolff, J., Spirito, A., & Esposito-Smythers, C. (2023). Longitudinal relations between parenting practices and adolescent suicidal ideation in a high-risk clinical sample: A moderated mediation model. Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology, 51, 613-623.
*López Jr., R., *Maultsby, K., *Seibel, L., Leichtweis, R.N. & Esposito-Smythers, C. (in press). Trajectories of adolescent suicidal ideation and depressive symptoms during partial hospitalization: Clinical and demographic characteristics as predictors of change. Psychological Services.
Esposito-Smythers, C., Fischer, S., *Whitmyre, E., *Defayette, A., *Maultsby, K., & Renshaw, K. (2022). Adaptation of a transdiagnostic cognitive-behavioral treatment for adolescents with comorbid mental health conditions and high-risk behavior. Evidence-Based Practice in Child and Adolescent Mental Health. doi: 10.1080/23794925.2022.2124556
*Whitmyre, E., Esposito-Smythers, C., Goldberg, D., Scalzo, G., *Defayette, A., & *Lopez, R., (2022). Implementation of an electronic safety plan within a measurement feedback system. Evidence-Based Practice in Child and Adolescent Mental Health. doi: 10.1080/23794925.2022.2081946
Esposito-Smythers, C., *Defayette, A., *Whitmyre, E., Steinberg, P., Goldston, D, & Asarnow, J. (2021). A community call to action: Use of quality improvement strategies to address youth suicides. Evidence-Based Practice in Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 6(3), 328-342, doi:10.1080/23794925.2021.1917020
Wolff, J., Esposito-Smythers, C., Frazier, E., Stout, R., Gomez, J., Massing-Schaffer, M., Nestor, B., Cheek, S., Graves, H., Hunt, J., & Spirito, A. (2020). A randomized trial of integrated cognitive behavioral treatment for adolescents receiving community home-based services for co-occurring disorders. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 116, 108055. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2020.108055
Esposito-Smythers, C., Wolff, J., Liu, R., Hunt, J., Adams, L., Kim, K., Frazier, E., Yen, S., Dickstein, D., Spirito, A. (2019). Family-focused cognitive-behavioral treatment for depressed adolescents in suicidal crisis with co-occurring risk factors: A randomized trial. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 60(10), 1133-1141. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.130952
Esposito-Smythers, C., Hadley, W., Curby, T., & Brown, L.K. (2017). Alcohol, self-harm, and HIV prevention among youth in mental health treatment: A randomized controlled pilot trial. Behaviour Research and Therapy. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2016.11.005.
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.
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
Selected Book Chapters (* = graduate student author)
Esposito-Smythers, C., *Whitmyre, E. D., *Defayette, A. B., *López Jr., R., *Maultsby, K. D., & Spirito, A. (2022). Suicide and suicide attempts during adolescence. In G. Asmundson (Ed.), Comprehensive Clinical Psychology (2nd ed., Vol. 5, pp. 376-394). Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-818697-8.00059-5
Esposito-Smythers, C., Spirito, A., & Wolff, J. (2019). CBT for co-occurring suicidal behavior and substance use (I-CBT). In M. Berk (Ed.) Evidence-Based Treatment Approaches for Suicidal Adolescents: Translating Science into Practice. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
Goldston, D.B., Tunno, A., & Esposito-Smythers, C. (2019). Treatment of adolescents who have co-occurring substance misuse and suicidal behaviors. In I. Crome & R. Williams (Eds.) Substance Misuse and Young People. Boca Raton, FL: Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.
Esposito-Smythers, C., *Rallis, B., *Machell, K., *Williams, C. & Fischer, S. (2018). Brief interventions for adolescents with substance abuse and comorbid psychiatric problems. In P. Monti, Colby, S, & O'Leary, T. (Eds) Brief Interventions for Adolescents Alcohol and Substance Abuse. New York, NY: Guildford Press.
Spirito, A., Esposito-Smythers, C., & Wolff, J. (2017). Developing and testing interventions for adolescent suicidal and non-suicidal self-injury. In J. R. Weisz & A.E. Kazdin (Eds.) Evidence-Based Psychotherapies for Children and Adolescents. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Current Grants and Contracts
Saving Young Lives and Decreasing Health Disparities Through the Dissemination of Culturally Sensitive Evidence-Based Assessment to State-Funded Behavioral Health Organizations
FY 2023 Congressional Directive Spending Projects
HHS/Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
Aims: (1) To train clinicians who serve diverse, low-income youth and families, and their clinical supervisors, in the use of measurement-based care to allow for regular administration of culturally sensitive evidence-based assessments to clients, and (2) help administrators effectively implement use of MBC across their organizations so that all clients may benefit from their use.
Dates of grant: 9/30/2023 – 9/29/2024 (Awarded by Congress, awaiting approval and funding from SAMHSA)
Total Costs: $943,983
Co-Investigators: K. Renshaw & A. Sanchez
Detecting and Addressing Bulimia Nervosa in Adolescent Girls through Local Community Service Boards
1ASTWH220109-01-00 (Fischer PI)
Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health
Aim: (1) To disseminate evidence-based diagnostic tools for adolescent eating disorders and (2) To develop and test a transdiagnostic treatment for adolescents with eating disorders (Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder) using a community-based participatory research approach.
Dates of grant: 10/1/2022 – 9/30/2025
Total costs: $1,361,563.00
Role: Co-Investigator, Other Co-Investigators: Amanda Sanchez, Ph.D.
Suicide & Substance Misuse Prevention for Veterans: Transdiagnostic Treatment Development & Pilot
Virginia Department of Veteran Services (VDS)
Aim: To develop and pilot test a transdiagnostic treatment for Veterans with suicidality, substance misuse, and other co-occurring mental health conditions.
Dates of grant: 8/25/2023 – 8/24/2024
Total Costs: $150,000
MPIs: K. Renshaw & C. Esposito-Smythers
Inova Kellar Center Clinical Research Service Contract
Aim: Aid the Inova Kellar Center in the implementation of web-based routine outcomes monitoring, also known as measurement-based care (MBC), in collaboration with OWL (https://www.owl.health/), LLC. The Kellar Center provides behavioral health treatment to children, adolescents, and their families, and offers a full continuum of services including partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, intensive home-based services, outpatient, medication management, psychiatric evaluations, psychological testing, and a therapeutic school. Use of MBC allows the Kellar Center to use client self-report data, collected via empirically validated assessments, to guide treatment and discharge planning, monitor client progress, evaluate the efficacy of all services, and address accreditation requirements. These data are also used to prepare research papers and provide pilot data for grant applications.
Sponsor: Inova Kellar Center
Dates of Contract: 6/7/16-6/6/24
Total Costs: $623,193
Fairfax Consortium for Evidence-Based Practice
Aim: The purpose of this contract is to establish and lead a training consortium, in partnership with Healthy Minds Fairfax, for ongoing training in evidence-based interventions for youth and family serving behavioral health providers from local health and human service agencies, public schools, and private provider networks. Training and consultation are provided in interventions for suicidal behavior as well as mental health and substance use disorders. The consortium also evaluates training outcomes and provides implementation support. Data collected are also be used to prepare research papers/presentations and provide pilot data for grant applications.
Sponsor: Healthy Minds Fairfax (Fairfax County Government)
Dates of Contract: 12/1/17-6/30/26
Total Costs: $1,498,358
Northern Virginia Regional Consortium for Evidence-Based Practice
Aim: The purpose of this contract is to establish and run a training consortium for ongoing training in evidence-based trauma treatments for children, adolescents, and adults. Training and consultation are provided to behavioral health providers from Community Service Boards in Alexandria, Arlington County, Fairfax County, Fairfax City, Falls Church, Loudon County, and Prince William County. The consortium also evaluates training outcomes and provides implementation support. Data collected are also be used to prepare research papers/presentations and provide pilot data for grant applications.
Sponsor: Northern Virginia Regional Management Group
Dates of Contract: 9/1/20-8/31/23 (renewal in progress)
Total Costs: $703,071
Co-Investigators: Keith Renshaw, Ph.D. & Sarah Fischer, Ph.D.
Psyc 810: Psychological Assessment I
Psyc 811: Psychological Assessment II
Psyc 813: Supervision, Consultation, and Interprofessional Skills
Psyc 861: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Youth
Psyc 325: Abnormal Psychology
Psyc 414: Behavioral Disorders in Childhood
1995 B.A. Psychology/English, Lafayette College
1997 M.S. Clinical Psychology, Virginia Tech
2000 Ph.D. Clinical Psychology, Virginia Tech
Selected presentations (* = graduate student author)
*Maultsby, K., *López Jr., R., Wolff, J., Spirito, A., & Esposito-Smythers, C. (2022, November 17-20). Longitudinal relations between parenting practices and adolescent suicidal ideation in a high-risk clinical sample: A moderated mediation model. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.
*Seibel, L., *Maultsby, K., *López Jr., R., Wolff, J., Spirito, A., & Esposito-Smythers, C. (2022, November 17-20). Adolescent anxiety symptoms and suicidal ideation: A longitudinal mediation model. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.
*López Jr., R., & Esposito-Smythers, C. (2022, November 17-20). The influence of social problem-solving orientation on the relation between lifetime discrimination and past month passive suicidal ideation in a diverse, young adult sample. Poster presented at the ABCT 56th Annual Convention, New York, NY.
*López Jr., R., & Esposito-Smythers, C. (2022, November 17-20). Preliminary evidence for a psychosocial model of the relation between discrimination and passive suicidal ideation in a diverse, nonclinical sample. Poster presented at the ABCT 56th Annual Convention, New York, NY.
*Lopez Jr., R., & Esposito-Smythers, C. (2022, November 17-20). Relations between discrimination, rejection sensitivity, and decrements in problem-solving ability following social rejection: An experimental investigation. Poster presented at the 2022 ABCT Suicide and Self-Injury Special
*Whitmyre, E. D., Esposito-Smythers, C., Scalzo, G., *Defayette, A. B., *López Jr., R., *Maultsby, K., & Mehlenbeck, R. (2021, December). Effectiveness of clinician pre-implementation training for electronic safety planning with youth. Poster presented at the 14th Annual Science of Dissemination and Implementation (Virtual) Conference.
*López Jr., R., *Maultsby, K., *Defayette, A. B., *Whitmyre, E. D., Wolff, J., Spirito, A., & Esposito-Smythers, C. (2021, November). A prospective investigation of the relation between dysfunctional family communication and suicidal ideation severity in a clinical adolescent sample: A serial mediation model. Poster to be presented at the 2021 Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies annual convention, Virtual.
Esposito-Smythers, C. (2021, June). Best practices for including adolescents with suicidal behavior in clinical research. In M. Trivedi and J. Harkavy-Friedman (Chairs), American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology/American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Panel. Symposium presented at the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology Annual Meeting (Virtual).
*López Jr., R., *Defayette, A. B., *Maultsby, K., *Whitmyre, E. D., & Esposito-Smythers, C. (2021, May). A multimethod investigation of the relation between minority stress and suicide risk among sexual minority youth. Poster presented at the Association for Psychological Science (APS) 2021 Virtual Convention.
*López Jr., R., Brick, L. A., *Defayette, A. B., *Whitmyre, E. D., Wolff, J., Frazier, E., Spirito, A., & Esposito- Smythers, C. (2020, November). Depressive symptom severity mediates the association between avoidant problem-solving style and suicidal ideation. In R. López Jr., & C. Esposito-Smythers (Chairs), The impact of social factors on the onset and maintenance of self-injurious thoughts and behaviors. Symposium to be presented at the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) 54th Annual Convention. Philadelphia, PA.
*López Jr., R., *Williams, C. A., Franks, H., Leichtweis, R., & Esposito-Smythers, C. (2019, June). The impact of measurement-based care on key clinical outcomes within a partial hospital setting. Poster presented at the 3rd Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology Future Directions Forum, Washington, D. C.
*Whitmyre, E.D., Adams, L. M., *Defayette, A.B., *Williams, C.A., Esposito-Smythers, C. (2018, May). Do high-risk adolescents receive mental health services in the community that are appropriately targeted to their diagnoses? Poster presented at the Association for Psychological Science 30th Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA.
Esposito-Smythers, C., Fagan, C., Mehlenbeck, R., & Peterson, A.P. (2017, August). For good measure: Hands-on experience putting measurement-based care into clinical practice (Workshop number 123). Workshop to be presented at the 125th APA Annual Convention, Washington, D.C.
Esposito-Smythers, C., Hadley, W., Brown, L.K., & Curby, T. (2015, October). The development of a suicide, alcohol, and HIV prevention program for teens in mental health treatment. In C. Esposito-Smythers (Chair), Adapting interventions for suicidal youth: Consideration of comorbidity, culture, and setting. Symposium presented at the International Summit on Suicide Research, New York. NY.
Annamarie B. Defayette , A Multimethod Approach to Understanding the Association Between Interpersonal Stress, Inflammatory Response, and Suicidality (2022)
Emma D. Whitmyre, Implementation of Measurement Based Care and Electronic Safety Plans for Youth (2021)
Caitlin Ann Williams , A Developmental Look at the Impact of Childhood Trauma in Treatment-seeking Samples (2020)
Julie T. Weismoore, A Proposed Model of Non-suicidal Self-injury, Negative Life Events, Coping, and Emotional Regulation (2011)