Our Research

Ongoing Projects

The MPPRG has merged with McGill’s Health Psychology Research Group and is now the Science and Practice in Psychology (SAPP) research group. Information about SAPP can be found at https://mcgill.ca/sapp/

Access to Psychotherapy in the Public System (M. Drapeau)

This study is directed by Prof. H. Vasiliadis from the University of Sherbrooke, in collaboration with Professors A. Lesage from the University of Montreal and M. Drapeau from the MPPRG. This CIHR funded project aims to evaluate the different aspects of public funded psychotherapy that will serve as the basis and context for a second study that will evaluate, in real practice, the effectiveness and costs associated with making psychotherapy accessible to all. The project builds on a team approach and on the expertise of key clinical decision makers and researchers in Australia and the UK who participated in the implementation of guidelines that cover psychological treatment in their respective Medicare systems.

Best practices in mental health (M. Drapeau)

Professional practice should be informed by science. Because clinicians have little time to devote to reading and analyzing research, different mechanisms need to be put in place in order to facilitate the translation and dissemination of research to practitioners. One such mechanism is practice guidelines. Regulatory bodies in Quebec (e.g., the Order of psychologists of Quebec) produce such guidelines, presumably in order to improve the clinical work of clinicians by educating them about best practices. This project aims to determine if the guidelines produced by regulatory bodies are developed according to best practices in guideline development.

Alliance Development in Psychotherapy (M. Fitzpatrick)

This is an ongoing project that comprises a number of studies. We have collected a substantial database of psychotherapy session tapes, paper-and-pencil measures and interviews over the past ten years ( N = approx. 230). The primary purpose of the program is to closely examine the formation of the alliance in early sessions with experienced and inexperienced counselors by examining critical incidents. There are two related objectives: (a) to examine the impact of both client and counsellor involvement on alliance formation, and (b) to elucidate the strategies or behaviours that counsellors and clients use to support alliance development in early sessions. We have published some client interview results with the inexperienced counselor group (Fitzpatrick, Janzen et al., 2006) and are writing up the parallel study of the experienced group. We have also developed a method to identify the critical incidents from client interviews and are collecting observer data from the sessions.

Common Factors in Psychotherapy: Can They be Translated into Techniques? (M. Drapeau)

While a plethora of studies have examined various common factors in psychotherapy and how they impact outcome, little is known about the extent to which clinicians capitalize on these common factors when delivering a treatment. This project aims to determine to what extent clinicians believe common factors are important in psychotherapy and, more importantly, how they translate these common factors into specific techniques.

Positive Emotions and Client Involvement (M. Fitzpatrick))

This project comprises a number of studies and looks at the interplay between the alliance, client involvement, and positive emotions in psychotherapy sessions. The question that drives these studies is “Do positive emotions and involvement interact in an upward spiral effect from one session to the next in therapy?” The theoretical framework for the work is Barbara Fredrickson’s broaden-and-build theory (Fredrickson, 1998) that argues that positive emotions momentarily broaden people's thought-action repertoires, widening the array of the thoughts and actions that come to mind and building psychological resources. We are currently undertaking a number of studies to test this idea. We are collaborating with a team at Panteion University in Athens and have developed a scale to measure client broadening.

Process and Outcome in the Cognitive Behavioral Treatment of Major Depression (M. Drapeau)

The first aim of these studies was to examine the convergent, discriminant and predictive validity of two newly-developed observer-rated methods we have developed to assess cognitive errors and coping patterns. With these projects, we also seek to examine the processes involved in the treatment of depression using cognitive and behavioural therapies. We aim to determine how therapists use -or should use different therapeutic techniques, tailoring them as needed to each individual patient-, and the effect of this on the success of treatment. These studies are some of the first in-session process studies of cognitive and behaviour therapies (CBT) aiming specifically at documenting and developing new and empirically based intervention guidelines in order to maximize treatment efficacy. Furthermore, these studies will examine other key variables in therapy, including process measures such has the alliance, patient variables such as relationship patterns, and therapist variables such as authoritarian traits.

Technique in Short-term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy (M. Drapeau)

The main objective of this study is to set the foundations of, and develop a preliminary clinical and empirical model of how therapists adjust their interventions to individual clients in short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy. Although a number of studies have examined the impact of therapist interventions on outcome-related variables, few of these studies have demonstrated positive findings, presumably because they were based on the assumption that the relation between technique, patient functioning –including traits and state-, and outcome is static. This program of research examines technique in regards to key variables, defense mechanisms, and experiencing, and will contribute to the development of a dynamic model of therapist interventions in therapy.

The Practice of Psychotherapy in the Private Sector (M. Drapeau)

This project includes a series of pilot studies aiming to examine private practice from different angles. To date, no study has been conducted in Quebec to examine what clinicians do in routine clinical practice, the type of clientele they treat, the services they offer, the techniques, methods and procedures they rely on, and the relative efficacy of these interventions. Likewise, no study to date has examined how service users view psychotherapy and why they chose to seek services from a psychologist.

Usage of Progress Monitoring Measures (M. Fitzpatrick)

The aim of these studies is to examine the usage of Progress Monitoring measures. More specifically, we seek to examine the motivators and barriers to the usage of these measures from the perspective of clinicans, stakeholders, supervisors of clinical training programs and trainees.

Grief and Meaning:Predicting the Development of Complicated Grief (M. Fitzpatrick)

Evgenia (Jane) Milman (PhD Candidate) is currently working with Bob Neimeyer and several international partners including AfterTalk and Cruse UK on a longitudinal study of the development Complicated Grief (CG), a condition associated with clinically significant distress and increased vulnerability to a host of health problems. The study evaluates many factors that could increase risk for CG, such as violent death, loss of a child, and low social support, as well as the role of one’s ability to find meaning following loss in development of this condition. The results should contribute to the design of more effective support services for those who might be at risk for CG.