Glenn Callaghan

Professor, PsychologyGlen Callaghan


Current Research Activities

My research focuses on developing case conceptualization driven contemporary cognitive behavioral interventions and assessments, particularly those focused on interpersonal problems. There are two main avenues of this line of research. First, I am working with colleagues to revise an alternative assessment approach to the current diagnostic system. This approach roots the assessment in a cognitive behavioral paradigm and attempts to have the outcome of the assessment dictate the specific intervention for the individual who was assessed. Second, I am helping develop and roll out an interpersonal approach to contemporary and evidence-based cognitive behavioral therapy, Interpersonal Behavior Therapy (IBT).

What contributed to your research interests?

I was raised by an engineer and an artist. I have deep interest in bringing science to complex psychological issues that require a great deal of creativity. This has informed my research agenda in developing alternative classification systems to the DSM. More recently, I had a rough bout with cancer, and the experience showed me just how powerful interpersonal relationships can be. My career has focused on these relationships, but my experience with cancer reinvigorated my belief in the need to both do research on the mechanisms of change in interpersonal behavioral therapy and help clinicians learn to do this type of clinical intervention.
With respect to inspiration, I would say the article by B. F. Skinner called Selection By Consequences (Science, 1981) had the most profound impact on my interest in thinking “really big” about how to understand human behavior and the implications of a specific epistemology. The more recent book, The Order of Time by Carlo Rovelli has had a deep impact on thinking about our experience in the universe. Most importantly, my relationships with my wife and children continue to inspire me to help others learn to be connected in relationships and develop a science to understand that process.

How does your research relate to current issues?

The assessment work we are doing meets one of the requirements set forth by NIMH to create an alternative assessment approach to the DSM by focusing on interpersonal and relationship variables (specifically, Systems for Social Processes). Our research on assessment and therapy processes with interpersonal Behavior Therapy (IBT) appears to be especially tied to some of the struggles our world is facing. The Center for Disease Control has noted that one of the strongest risk factors for suicide in the US is relationship distress or disruption. Moreover, we have seen a trend in social isolation as our global community becomes more computer based and prone to social disconnection with technology. Finally, with the global pandemic and social distancing, it is essential to identify and assist individuals who struggle interpersonally and alleviate those challenges.

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