Current Research Projects

Investigating the Effects of Electronically Delivered Cognitive Behavioural Therapy on Brain Structure in Individuals with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder using Functional MRI


Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a debilitating and prevalent anxiety disorder with the exact pathology in the brain being unknown. This project aims to implement a 16-week e-CBT program with exposure and ritual prevention therapy for OCD. This program mirrors in-person therapy for OCD and the effects of the program will be observed by using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) before and after treatment. We hypothesize that brain activation levels in the basal ganglia and frontal cortex will decrease following treatment.

Comparing the Efficacy of an Electronically Delivered Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Program to a Mental Health Coaching program for Generalized Anxiety Disorder


           The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of delivering e-CBT through the Online PsychoTherapy Tool (OPTT) for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) compared to a counselling form of treatment. Participants will be randomized into two groups. The first group will receive 12 weeks of e-CBT with the second group receiving weekly check-ins from a therapist who will serve more as an emotional support role asking about how the participant is doing and feeling. We aim to investigate and compare the effects from both treatment arms, as well as the feasibility of implementing the program. Additionally, all participants will be given smart watches to wear during the course of the study as we will be incorporating physiological information (heart rate, sleep patterns, physical activity levels, etc.) into our data analysis.

Investigating the Effectiveness of Incorporating a Stepped Care Approach into Electronically Delivered CBT for Depression


           This study aims to use our machine learning system to identify participants who are at a higher risk of dropping-out of the program early. We will offer a 12-week e-CBT program to individuals with depression. All participants will receive the standard e-CBT protocol, with those deemed higher risk receiving an increased level of therapist engagement in the attempt to increase their treatment adherence. Our machine learning system can identify trends in participant homework submissions that identify them as more likely to leave the program prematurely. We hypothesize that this increased level of therapist engagement with participants will help increase participant completion rates in high-risk drop-out patients. Additionally, all participants will be given smart watches to wear during the course of the study as we will be incorporating physiological information (heart rate, sleep patterns, physical activity levels, etc.) into our data analysis.

Developing and Implementing an Online Psychotherapy Program to Address Mental Health Challenges in Oncology and Palliative Care


           The demand of mental health problems, particularly depression and anxiety, is three times greater in Oncology and Palliative Care Centres compared to the general population. We aim to implement an 8-week e-CBT program for oncology and palliative care patients who have a comorbid depressive or anxiety disorder. The patients will receive individualized feedback from a trained therapist every week. We hypothesize that delivering this psychotherapeutic intervention in this manner will have great adherence. We aim to prove that it will improve quality of life and decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety in this underserved patient population.

Delivering online cognitive behavioural therapy (iCBT) to address mental health challenges in correctional officers and other public safety personnel


This proposal aims to study the efficacy of delivering asynchronous (i.e. non-live online) iCBT to address mental health problems among correctional workers (CW).We believe that using an online platform to deliver CBT, would lower the stigma of receiving care by providing it in a secure and confidential environment, and online therapy would provide better access to care considering the irregular hours of work many CWs have, limiting their access to conventional clinics or practitioners.

Online delivery of psychotherapy, tailored to patients' suffering from mental health problems due to COVID-19


Through this research, we offer 9 weeks of e-CBT modules for the overall management of the burden and stress caused or increased by COVID-19 pandemic. These modules are focused on coping skills and resilience building which have been shown to be effective in treatment of mood and anxiety disorders. We are using the Online Psychotherapy Tool (OPTT) (designed by Dr. Alavi), a secure cloud-based platform, to deliver therapy. We hypothesize that delivering these psychotherapeutic interventions in this manner will improve quality of life and decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety during this pandemic.

Feasibility and Effectiveness of Delivering Cognitive Behavioural Therapy through Online Psychotherapy Tool (OPTT) for Depression.


The purpose of this study is to determine the feasibility of delivering Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to treat depressive symptoms through an online, module-based program. The study also aims to measure the effectiveness of using the computer program OPTT to decrease depressive symptoms. This program includes 12 e-CBT sessions.

Determining the efficacy of online cognitive behavioural therapy for Generalized Anxiety Disorder compared to pharmaceutical interventions


The purpose of this study is to evaluate the usefulness of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in the treatment of anxiety delivered through a web-based platform called the Online PsychoTherapy Tool (OPTT). 12 Weekly sessions of e-CBT through OPTT will consist of approximately 30 slides. Each session is expected to last approximately 50 minutes. The slides will highlight a different topic each week and include general information, an overview of skills and homework on that topic.

Delivering Electronic Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to Patients with Bipolar Disorder and Residual Depressive Symptoms


This is a 12-week e-CBT program for individuals with diagnosis of bipolar II disorder suffering from current symptoms of depression. Weekly sessions of e-CBT consist of approximately 30 slides. The content and format of each weekly online session is designed to mirror in-person CBT. It consists of the same training as one would receive through a live session. These 12 sessions, along with the homework, will be completed through the fully secure environment. The modules will highlight a different topic each week and include general information, an overview of skills, and homework that is to be completed within that week.

Internet-based mental state monitoring using patient's textual data


Using the deep learning tools, now we would include speech of the individuals in the internet-based psychotherapy system. We are going to collect the text data from individuals enrolled in Online Psychotherapy.

Do clinicians use the common suicidal attempt predictors, in managing patients with suicidal ideation?


This study will have 3 steps. In this study we will look at interactional factors that shape both how clinicians conduct their decisions and their understanding of what ‘causes’ someone to harm themselves in assessing patients with suicidal ideation or behaviour.