Stephen R. Shirk
Professor, Clinical Child
My research interests revolve around the development and evaluation of psychosocial interventions for child and adolescent emotional disorders. In recent years, the focus of this research has been on the treatment of adolescent depression. A primary goal of our research is to identify effective ingredients of child and adolescent therapies in order to understand psychotherapy process, that is, what makes therapy work, and to strengthen treatments in order to improve the effects of psychological interventions.
Our research team recently completed an NIMH sponsored clinical trial of school-based, cognitive-behavioral therapy for depressed adolescents. One of the major aims of this research was to understand the interpersonal context of CBT in order to identify therapist strategies that facilitate or impede treatment engagement and the development of a working alliance. Results from this research indicate that therapist behaviors in the first session of treatment predict subsequent therapy alliance, treatment continuation, and in-session collaboration with treatment tasks. My collaborators in the lab are currently examining the contribution of CBT homework completion to outcome, the role of in-session emotion expression in the reduction of depressive symptoms, and the relationship between early symptom change and alliance formation.
We were recently funded by NIMH to conduct a treatment development study of a modified CBT protocol for depressed adolescents with an interpersonal trauma history. Our prior study showed that depressed adolescents with prior trauma responded less favorably to traditional CBT. Our modified protocol will include components that address specific deficits and distortions found among adolescents who have been exposed to sexual or physical abuse or to high levels of family violence. In collaboration with Dr. Anne DePrince we will conduct this study in community clinics with referred adolescents and community therapists.
All members of our research team are actively involved in some aspect of therapy research. This research spans a wide range of methods and includes lab-based, experimental studies of specific treatment components to process-outcome studies from randomized clinical trials. Graduate students are strongly encouraged (and supported) to make presentations at professional conferences and to co-author papers for publication. Since 2000, over half of the grad students in our lab have received their own research funding from NIMH. We hold lab meetings on a weekly basis and view our team as a research collaborative.
Shirk, S., Gudmundsen, G., Crisp, H., & McMakin, D. (in press). Alliance and outcome in CBT foradolescent depression. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.
Shirk, S., & Jungbluth, N. (in press). School-based mental health check-ups: Ready for practical action? Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice.
Shirk, S., & McMaking, D. (2008). Client, therapist, and treatment characteristics in EBT's for children and adolescents. In R. Steele, T.D. Elkin, & M. Roberts (Eds.) Handbook of evidence-based therapies for children and adolescents. New York: Springer.
Russell, R., Shirk, S., & Jungbluth, N. (2008). First session pathways to the alliance in CBT for adolescent depression. Psychotherapy Research,18, 15 - 27.
Burwell, R., & Shirk, S. (2007). Subtypes of rumination in adolescence: Associations among brooding, reflection, depressive symptoms, and coping. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 36, 56 - 65.
Burwell, R., & Shirk, S. (2006). The role of self-worth contingencies in adolescent depression. Journal Research on Adolescence,16, 479 - 490.
Crisp, H., Gudmundsen, G., & Shirk, S. (2006). School-based CBT for adolescent depression. Education and Treatment of Children, 29.
Shirk, S., Gudmundsen, G., & Burwell, R. (2005). Links among attachment-related cognitions and adolescent depressive symptoms. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 34,172 - 182.
Shirk, S. (2004). Dissemination of youth EST's: Ready for prime time? Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11, 308 - 312.
Shirk, S., & Karver, M. (2003). Prediction of treatment outcome from relationship variables in child and adolescent therapy: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71, 462 - 471.
Stephen R. Shirk
Ph.D. 1983, New School For Social Research
Professor, Clinical Child
office: Frontier Hall,
Clinic for Child and Family Psychology
Stress Research Network