Welcome to the Cognition and Anxiety Disorders Research Laboratory (CADRe Lab)!
At the Cognition and Anxiety Disorders Research (CADRe) Lab, our overarching goal is to improve the lives of people living with anxiety and related disorders. We use a multi-method approach to better understand how cognitive, behavioural, and emotional factors cause and maintain anxiety, and then apply that information to improving and refining psychotherapy for these types of problems. Given the strong evidence base for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), we focus on improving that type of therapy. Experimental psychopathology, clinical psychology, and cognitive science converge in our work, as we focus on measuring and testing the effects of variables that are clinically relevant to people with anxiety disorders.
We currently receive research funding from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), and the Faculty of Social Sciences at uOttawa. We feel very fortunate to conduct much of our research at the University of Ottawa’s state of the art INSPIRE Laboratory. Most of all, we are grateful to our participants, for sharing their time, experiences, and expertise with us. Thank you!
Areas of Research
Cognitive and Behavioural Mechanisms of Anxiety
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is the most supported treatment for anxiety disorders. CBT models focus on the way that thoughts, feelings, and behaviours influence each other to cause, maintain, and alleviate anxiety symptoms. Although we are interested in studying diverse types of anxiety, we often focus on social anxiety. Our recent and ongoing projects in this area were designed to better understand:
- How people with anxiety pay attention to things in their environment
- How diverse types of automatic and controlled thinking affect anxiety symptoms like anxiety in social situations or fear of specific objects or situations (e.g., spiders, heights)
- Whether safety behaviours or beliefs about safety behaviours influence people’s speech anxiety, performance, and behaviour
- The relationship between evaluating ourselves and others negatively, as it applies to social anxiety
- How beliefs about anxiety overlap and are separate from beliefs related to emotion regulation
- Much more – check out our Recent and Ongoing Projects page!
By manipulating mechanisms that we believe are important to producing anxiety symptoms, we can test whether beliefs and behaviours actually cause problems with anxiety or simply result from those problems. We can then test whether targeting those mechanisms via CBT can imrprove the lives of people living with anxiety and related disorders.
Since founding the lab in 2014, our interests have evolved in response to our findings! Most notably, we’ve expanded into understanding the role of emotion regulation (ER) in anxiety. ER refers to a set of beliefs and strategies that people use to attempt to influence which emotion they experience, how intense it is, and how long it lasts Historically, researchers focused on understanding which strategies were adaptive and maladaptive. More recently, there have been persistent calls to better understand the degree to which contextual factors influence ER strategy use. Indeed, no ER strategy is inherently (mal)adaptive; rather, effective ER requires responding flexibly to the contextual demands of a situation and monitoring and modifying the ER response in real-time, depending on its short- and long-term consequences. For example, although hiding your outward feelings—expressive suppression—is considered maladaptive, showing anxiety and frustration at being put on the spot in a work meeting is unlikely to lead to positive outcomes. In other words, context matters. Moreover, some of our recent research demonstrated that even when people use an assigned ER strategy in experimental studies, they also spontaneously use their habitual ER strategies. Moving forward, we want to continue to test how conflicting beliefs about emotions (e.g., “It’s important to control emotions, but I’m not good at doing that.”) influence how people choose ER strategies, especially in social situations. We also want to understand how in-the-moment ER contributes to people’s difficulties with anxiety. Finally, ER develops in the context of one’s cultural background. We are dedicated to exploring and understanding the fundamental role of culture in ER generally, and specific to anxiety.
Across our research areas, we aim to adhere to best practices in quantitative and qualitative methods, experimental psychopathology, and Open and Inclusive Science. To that end, we aim to pre-register all of our studies before beginning data collection, and to publish our data along with our manuscripts. We also endeavour to recruit diverse samples, include people with lived experience in designing and implementing our studies, and maintain an inclusive research team of faculty members, graduate students, undergraduate students, and research assistants from diverse backgrounds. Recently, we’ve published methods papers related to experimental psychopathology, conducting experiments and clinical science research online via videoconferencing, and using the Trier Social Stress Test.
We are fortunate to work with collaborators at uOttawa and internationally. See our recent publications page for more info!
Dr. Ouimet is a founding faculty member of the Sex and Anxiety Research Group (SAX-RG). The SAX-RG is currently supported by the Faculty of Social Sciences and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). SAX-RG research focuses on the relationship between anxiety and sexual response, including the role of social anxiety in sexual interactions. Learn more about the SAX-RG.
For more information about our mission, members, and past and ongoing research, please spend some time on the rest of our lab website!
- Huge Congratulations to Ryan Ferguson, who successfully defended his PhD dissertation this Summer!
- We are so excited to welcome Dalainey Drakes to the CADRe Lab as an MA/PhD student in the Clinical Psychology. To learn more about Dalainey, see her profile!
- Congratulations to CADRe Lab members Kari-Ann Clow, Cassandra Fehr, and Ryan Ferguson who began their pre-doctoral internship in Clinical Psychology at the uOttawa Centre for Psychological Services & Research, Centre for Addiction & Mental Health, and St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, respectively, in September 2022!
- How can we increase the representation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour in Psychology graduate programs? Learn about how we're starting to do so at the School of Psychology at uOttawa, in a paper recently published in Canadian Psychology. Dr. Ouimet was a co-author, along with first author Fatou Sarr, student co-authors Dana Strauss and Sommer Knight, and faculty colleagues Dr. Krystelle Shaughnessy, Dr. Monnica Williams, and Dr. Jude-Mary Cénat.
- Former lab member, Grace Jacob, is first author on a very interesting paper recently published in Perspectives on Psychological Science describing her Systematic Review conducted with Dr. Monnica Williams on how Black people cope with racism. Dr. Ouimet was also a co-author. We hope you take the time to read it!
- Smiling won’t make you feel better, but it might make people like you more! Read Dr. Bahl & Dr. Ouimet's article on how emotion regulation strategies impact interpersonal outcomes in Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Our findings were also featured in a press release, and Dr. Ouimet gave radio interviews for Pour faire un monde and Sur le vif with Radio-Canada, All in a Day with CBC Radio, and Le Retour with Unique FM. Have a listen to learn more!
- COVID was tough for researchers too. Read about how we modified two of our experimental studies to be administered online (Case Study 1 and Case Study 2)! Lab member authors included Ryan Ferguson, Jeremy Oueis, Amélie Burla, Olivia Gardam, and Dr. Ouimet!