Thoughts on Record: Podcast of the Ottawa Institute of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Dr. Andrea Ashbaugh: What is Mental Illness (and How Do We Know)?

November 15, 2021 Season 2 Episode 39
Thoughts on Record: Podcast of the Ottawa Institute of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Dr. Andrea Ashbaugh: What is Mental Illness (and How Do We Know)?
Show Notes

Conversations around the conceptualization, development & implementation of diagnostic frameworks around mental illness often generate more questions than answers, but are endlessly fascinating in their ability to pull on a number of diverse & interesting threads of inquiry.  Clinical psychologist, professor & former president of the Canadian Association for Cognitive & Behavioural Therapies (CACBT), Dr. Andrea Ashbaugh, C.Psych returns to Thoughts on Record for a discussion of diagnostic frameworks for mental illness.  In this conversation we cover:

  • thoughts on the conceptualization of mental illness
  • the functional utility/evolutionary significance of mental health "symptoms" - even when frequent and/or intense
  • cultural expectations around the experience of psychological pain 
  • advantages and challenges of current diagnostic symptoms (e.g., DSM 5, ICD-11)
  • mental health consumer expecations around receiving a diagnosis
  • potential benefits and harm that can come with a diagnosis
  • the emergence of potential dimensional models of diagnosis (e.g., The Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP))  
  • transdiagnostic treatment of psychopathology, with a special focus on managing comorbidity
  • consideration of some common diagnostic conundrums e.g., severe symptoms in high functioning clients

Andrea Ashbaugh is an associate professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Ottawa, Director of the Centre for Psychological Services and Research, and is a licensed clinical psychologist in the province of Ontario, Canada. She obtained her master's and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University and the Douglas Mental Health University Institute, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

She is director of the Cognition and Anxiety Studies Laboratory (CASL) and the Sex and Anxiety Research Group (SAX-RG). Her research interests as part of CASL centre around understanding the causes and developing treatments for anxiety and fear-related problems. She has recently started a program of research to understand the causes and psychological effects of experiencing traumatic and non-traumatic events that transgress one’s moral beliefs (Moral Injury) in military personnel and veterans. Her research in the context of the SAX-RG centres around the impact of beliefs about arousal sensations and context on the interpretation of arousal, and its impact on sexual interest and functioning. She has received funding for her research broadly including from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Dr. Ashbaugh regularly supervises CBT training and teaches courses on psychopathology and clinical psychology at both the graduate and undergraduate level. She has served on the Editorial Boards of Psychological Assessment. She is currently an Associate Editor for the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry and editorial board member for Behaviour Research and Therapy. She is a former president of the Canadian Association for Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies (CACBT) and was seminal in the development of national CBT training guidelines that were released by CACBT in May 2019.