Welcome !

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.

Emotion Regulation

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.

Experimental Methods

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!

Recent News

  • Congratulations to Ryan Ferguson (now Dr. Ryan Ferguson!) who received his PhD from the School of Psychology this past October. Congratulations Ryan! We’re so excited for you to join the profession of Clinical Psychology.
  • Huge congratulations to Clinical Psychology PhD student Dalainey Drakes, who was awarded BOTH the Canada Graduate Scholarship from CIHR which she graciously accepted and the Ontario Graduate Scholarship for her proposed research on intolerance of uncertainty and anxiety among people living with chronic health and pain conditions. We are so proud of you!
  • Honours' Thesis Students Mackenna Pattison and Kayleigh Angrove recently presented their honours' thesis posters at the Interdisciplinary Conference for Psychology and the Canadian Association for Cognitive Behaviour Therapies conference, respectively. Congratulations and job well done!
  • Eldar Eftekhari will be presenting a 5-minute Snapshot of his research at CPA's 84th Annual National Convention, on June 23rd - 25th, 2023. The presentation will summarize his study on the relationship between self-efficacy, social support and perceived benefit to adversarial growth and post-traumatic stress symptoms. His co-authors, Dr. Ouimet, Jeremy Oueis, Mackenna Pattison and Kay Angrove, and the rest of the lab are cheering for him!
Other News


2023 New Lab Photo-1

Allison J. Ouimet

Dr. Ouimet is an  Associate Professor in the Clinical Psychology Program, part of the School of Psychology at the University of Ottawa. She is also a licensed Clinical Psychologist with the College of Psychologists of Ontario.

She joined uOttawa in 2014, after completing her Ph.D in Clinical Psychology at Concordia University, which included a pre-doctoral residency in the Anxiety Treatment and Research Centre (ATRC) and Borderline Personality Disorder Service (DBT Program) at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. She completed her M.Sc. at the University of Western Ontario and her B.A. at Concordia University. 

Dr. Ouimet is the director of the CADRe Lab, and her research investigates how different types of cognition impact the development, maintenance, and treatment of anxiety disorders. More recently, she has been focusing on the role of emotion regulation in social anxiety. In particular, she wants to understand how diverse beliefs about emotions interact to determine what strategies people choose to manage specific emotion states (e.g., anxiety, anger, shame), how people monitor and switch strategies, and what the outcome of those strategies are in social situations. She prioritizes Open Science and inclusive science methods. 

Dr. Ouimet is the former Editor-in-Chief for Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, and is on the Editorial Board at Journal of Experimental Psychopathology and the Associate Editorial Board of Behaviour Research and Therapy. She is the 2018 laureate of the Canadian Psychological Association’s President’s New Researcher Award, has presented her research at several national and international conferences, and published in a variety of scientific journals.

Dr. Ouimet teaches graduate and undergraduate courses related to psychopathology, CBT, cognition, and emotion in English and French. She also supervises doctoral students and pre-doctoral interns in the provision of psychological services at uOttawa’s Centre for Psychological Services and Research. She has a small private practice where she provides assessment, psychotherapy, and small-group workshops related to managing anxiety (currently remote due to the pandemic).

Vanier Hall, 4088
Office: 613-562-5800 ext. 4806
Work E-mail: allison.ouimet@uOttawa.ca

Graduate Students
  • Kari-Ann Clow

Kari-Ann completed her Masters of Arts in Counselling Psychology at the University of Western Ontario in 2016. She is currently in her fourth year of the PhD program in Clinical Psychology. She is writing her dissertation under the Supervision of Dr. Allison Ouimet.

Work E-mailkclow096@uOttawa.ca

  • Dalainey Drakes

Dalainey joined the CADRe lab in 2022 and is completing her PhD in Clinical Psychology under the mentorship of Dr. Allison Ouimet. She graduated with her BA First Class Honours Psychology degree from St. Francis Xavier University in 2017 and completed her MSc in Experimental Psychology, with specialization in Health and Wellness from Memorial University in 2021. She brings experience conducting health psychology and clinical epidemiological research working with diverse groups across the lifespan. She strives to promote patient centred research while contributing to multidisciplinary studies to support the development of targeted interventions to reduce the impact of comorbid anxiety and depressive-related disorders on symptom severity in chronic health and pain conditions. 

Dalainey is humbled to have been a recipient of the CIHR Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship - Master's (CGS M) award.

Dalainey was awarded both the Canada Graduate Scholarship from CIHR which she graciously accepted and the Ontario Graduate Scholarship for her Doctoral dissertation research examines the impact of intolerance of uncertainty and anxiety among people living with chronic health and pain conditions. Her research embodies a patient-engaged approach incorporating knowledge synthesis, qualitative, and quantitative methods.

Work E-maildalainey.drakes@uottawa.ca

  • Eldar Eftekhari

Eldar Eftekhari completed his BSc and MA in psychology at York University. He is currently a clinical psychology graduate student under the supervision of Dr. Allison Ouimet. His research interests generally include the relationship between different forms of self-regulation and various psychological issues.

Work E-maileefte077@uOttawa.ca

  • Cassandra Fehr

Cassandra Fehr

Cassandra completed her BA in Honours Psychology at Concordia University in 2014. During that time, she worked in several laboratories, including the Vision and Psychophysics Lab as well as the Research Centre for Human Development. This experience allowed her to gain knowledge in attention and perception, eye-tracking as well as the role of cognitive processes in anxiety and mood disorders. In addition, Cassandra also has an interest in beliefs about emotions and the role it plays in emotion regulation. Given her experience, Cassandra is pursuing her Clinical graduate studies under the supervision of Dr.Allison Ouimet with the goal of looking at crucial topics such as emotion-regulation and anxiety sensitivity and the role they play in the maintenance and treatment of anxiety disorders. 

Cassandra’s dissertation is looking at controllability beliefs about emotion and its influence on adaptive emotion regulation. Moreover, Cassandra’s dissertation seeks to measure emotion regulation within a flexibility framework - a fairly recent conceptualization that proposes that adaptive emotion regulation is defined by one’s ability to regulate their emotions by implementing strategies that are synchronized with the current context and personal goals within that context. Her dissertation includes both, qualitative and quantitative methods. 

Cassandra is the recipient of both, the Master's and Doctoral Research Scholarship Award, Fonds de Recherche du Québec - Société et culture (FRQSC) and The Ontario Graduate Scholarship Award (OGS). 

Work E-mailcfehr053@uOttawa.ca

  • Ryan Ferguson

Ryan Ferguson

Ryan completed his BA in Honours Psychology in 2015 and his MA in Applied Psychology in 2017 at Laurentian University. He joined the CADRe Lab in September 2017 and is entering his sixth year of the Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology. In his research and clinical work, Ryan focuses on the assessment and treatment of adult anxiety (e.g., social anxiety, generalized anxiety, panic) and related disorders (e.g., OCD, PTSD, etc.). Under the supervision of Dr. Ouimet, Ryan’s doctoral thesis examines the impact of negative evaluations of others, including implications for CBT treatments for social anxiety disorder. As of September 2022, Ryan is completing his Pre-doctoral Residency at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton with rotations in the Anxiety Treatment and Research Clinic and the Mood Disorders Program.


Thesis title: Exploring the cyclical relationship of self- and other-evaluations and its impact on cognitive, behavioural, and emotional outcomes in social anxiety    

Work E-mailrferg071@uOttawa.ca

  • B. Göktürk Gök

B. Göktürk Gök is a Clinical Psychology Ph.D. candidate from Hacettepe University. He joined the CADRe Lab in August 2023 as a visiting student researcher focusing on anxiety disorders, especially Social Anxiety Disorder. Göktürk completed his BA in Honours Psychology at Çağ University in 2016, and his MA in Clinical Psychology at Ankara Yildirim Beyazit University in 2019. In his doctoral dissertation, he is trying to explore the mechanisms underlying social anxiety through longitudinal and cross-cultural research methods. During his time at the CADRe Lab, he aims to expand his research horizons and build cross-cultural collaborations to deepen the understanding of anxiety and related disorders.

Göktürk is a recipient of the 2214-A - International Research Fellowship Program for Doctoral Students scholarship from the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK).

Work E-mailbgok008@uottawa.ca

  • Saray Velert Jiménez

Saray Velert Jiménez is currently in her second year of the PhD program in Research Psychology at the University of Valencia. She is one of the members developing emoWELL, an emotion regulation intervention program for late adolescents and emerging adults through new technologies. She is a PhD visiting research student collaborating with the CADRe Lab.


Honours Students
  • Phoenix Holt

Phoenix is in her 5th year of the Honours Bsc Psychology Program at the University of Ottawa. She also volunteers at retirement homes as part of a companion program for those with Dementia. Phoenix will be completing her honours thesis with the CADRe lab in 2023-2024. She looks forward to working with the CADRe lab members and gaining enriching experiences that can help prepare her for graduate studies in clinical psychology.

  • Cynthia-Maria Kanaan

Cynthia is going into her 3rd year of the Honours BSc Psychology Program at the University of Ottawa. She joined the CADRe lab as a Research Assistant after winning the Research Assistantship of the First Generation Undergraduate and BIPOC competition through the School of Psychology. In addition to assisting on multiple projects in the lab, she volunteers in mental health and wellness programs and also works at Montfort Hospital. She hopes these valuable experiences will help her prepare for graduate studies. Cynthia believes that research and engagement are not only a fundamental part of academic excellence, but also building blocks of social improvement and better care.

  • Emmanuelle Rochon

Emmanuelle is a fourth year Honours BSc. Psychology student and started working on a project in the lab with Dalainey in February 2023. Emmanuelle works part-time at the uOttawa Resources Center for the faculty of education and she is also volunteering in the CARe Lab at uOttawa. She is hoping to complete her honours thesis next year while gaining experience both in clinical and experimental psychology.

Research Assistants
  • Kay Angrove

Kay is in her 4th year of the Honours BA Psychology Program at the University of Ottawa. She also volunteers and works as a peer support worker for various campus organizations. Kay completed her honours thesis with the Cognition and Anxiety Disorders Research Lab. She looks forward to expanding her research knowledge and experience with the support of the CADRe lab members to prepare for graduate studies in clinical psychology.

  • Talia Dixon
  • Jaidon MacLean

Jaidon recently completed her Honours B.A. in Psychology at the University of Ottawa. She joined the CADRe lab as a volunteer in September 2019 and is eager to learn more about the cognition aspect of psychological disorders. Jaidon continues to gain valuable research experience, assisting with multiple projects in the lab and she also works in the mental health department at CHEO in an effort to better prepare herself for graduate studies in clinical psychology.

  • Arghavan Nepton

Arghavan Nepton, PhD (cand.), is currently a doctoral student in Neuroscience, in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the University of Ottawa. She has done research on cognitive functioning among adolescents and worked as a counsellor. She also received training in Assessment of Cognitive Functions of the Brain. All of these equipped her with the knowledge and expertise she needed to conduct research in the area of mind and brain. For her thesis project, Arghavan is focusing on Epigenetics and Ketamine therapy. She has joined to the CADRe Lab in September 2020 as a research assistant in order to collaborate in emotion regulation and cross-cultural study. She has interests in conducting research on mental health disorders. Arghavan is committed to improving social opportunity, psychological wellness, and mental health for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of color) and other historically racialized groups who suffer from racism and other artificial lines which separate people. In her spare time, you can find Arghavan reading novels, watching movies.

  • Mackenna Pattison

Mackenna is an Honours BA Psychology student and completed her honours thesis in the CADRe Lab. Mackenna also volunteers in the Relationship and Couple Health Lab as well as the Cognitive Neuroscience and Bilingualism Lab at UOttawa. She is hoping that the skills she gains in her lab experiences will help prepare her for graduate studies in clinical psychology.

Aamir, Zoya
Albert, Gabrielle
Asrat, Yodit
Bahl, Nancy
Belloni, Julia
Benzouak, Tarek
Bowie, Kelsey
Brock, Boden
Burla, Amélie
Cholmondeley, Karen
Dixon-Luinenburg, Titania
Ebeid, Mohamed
Felix, Nereah
Gabriel, Shaina
Gardam, Olivia
Gauthier, Ariane
Grant, Kendra
Gunpat , Sasha
Haddad, Alexandra
Hanna, Mariam
Hoyos, Estefania
Hussein , Bashaer
Jacob, Grace
Kalpak, Midhula
Kane, Leanne
Kelly-Turner, Ken
Kenny, Samantha
Lamoureux, Alex-Anne
Maslouhi, Safae
McBride, Kyle
Mcguire, Kathleen
Munelith-Souksanh, Kristina
Nachabe, Jude
Oueis, Jeremy
Painchaud, Mia
Pilin, Maya
Racine, Patrick
Rocheleau, Jessica
Rodriguez, Michela
Rooyakkers, Molly
Sabir, Zina
Simmonds, Nicole
Slaunwhite-Hay, Sydney
Snyder, Tara
Stragapede, Elisa
Thomas, Anjali
Tinsley, Carter
Trepiak, Philip
Tutino, Jessica
Upadhyaya, Priyank
Yu Niu, Kelvin

Prospective Students

Graduate Students

Dr. Ouimet will be reviewing applications for the Fall 2024 admission for students interested in pursuing graduate studies in either experimental or clinical psychology. She is interested in accepting students for either the English or French streams.

If you are interested in joining the CADRe Lab for graduate studies in the Clinical Program, please review our program information and pay particular attention to information about our admissions process.

If you are interested in joining the CADRe Lab for graduate studies in the Experimental Program, please review the program information.

Please email Dr. Ouimet directly to indicate your interest, and include a copy of your transcript (unofficial is fine) and CV.

Please note that Dr. Ouimet will not meet with any applicants prior to the application deadline. Once the deadline has passed, she will invite short-listed candidates for a Zoom or in-person interview. Although it is impossible to predict when these invitations will be sent out, it usually occurs sometime during mid-January to mid-February.

Dr. Ouimet is committed to fostering an inclusive, diverse, and innovative space for research in the CADRe Lab. She encourages applications from candidates with diverse backgrounds and from underrepresented groups for all positions in the lab.

Honours Students

Dr. Ouimet's lab is quite full for the 2024-2025 academic year. As such, we are no longer considering applications for honours students. We wish you the best of luck finding another position in a lab that suits your interests! 

UROP Students

Dr. Ouimet will not be able to consider UROP students in the Fall 2023-2024 academic year.

NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards

The Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA) program,  run by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), is meant to create interest in conducting research in the natural sciences and engineering. Because the CADRe Lab is currently conducting NSERC-funded research, we are certainly interested in recruiting strong candidates to contribute to our research via this program. We are currently accepting applications for USRAs. Students interested in this opportunity should send an email with their CV and unofficial transcript to the lab email (cadre.lab@uOttawa.ca)

For more information on this program and its requirements, visit uOttawa's specific instructions page or the Undergraduate Student Research Awards Program (USRA) – Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)

Dr. Ouimet is committed to fostering an inclusive, diverse, and innovative space for research in the CADRe Lab. She encourages applications from candidates with diverse backgrounds and from underrepresented groups for all positions in the lab.

Research Assistants

The CADRe Lab benefits greatly from the participation of volunteer undergraduate research assistants. You can expect to participate in any of a number of activities including literature reviews, database management, testing participants, compiling data, and assisting graduate and undergraduate students with their ongoing projects. Depending on your contribution, you may be able to engage in some aspects of research dissemination (e.g., working on a conference poster).

If you are interested in volunteering in the CADRe Lab, please apply by completing this quick survey. In the survey, we will ask you some basic information and inquire about your availability. Moreover, we will ask you to upload a copy of your unofficial transcript and CV. 

Dr. Ouimet is committed to fostering an inclusive, diverse, and innovative space for research in the CADRe Lab. She encourages applications from candidates with diverse backgrounds and from underrepresented groups for all positions in the lab.

Research at the Laboratory

Ongoing Reseach
Measuring Emotion Regulation Over the Years: A Systematic Review

Emotion regulation (ER) is a fundamental process in determining human behaviour, and one that is particularly influential to our psychological well-being. ER has been a topic of interest for numerous researchers, resulting in approximately 1,800 published articles within the last 5 years. Despite this proliferating interest in ER, the large majority of this research has been conducted using select few measures of ER such as the Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (ERQ) and the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS). While these measures have been validated, multiple studies have been unable to replicate their factor models. Additionally, there is a variety of alternative ER measures that currently exist and have the ability to measure other essential yet overlooked domains of ER that are crucial to positive socioemotional adaptation (e.g., self-efficacy, interpersonal contexts, emotional expression). Thus far, a systematic review of child and adolescent ER measures has been conducted, however, the same effort has not been undertaken in the adult literature. Accordingly, a systematic review is warranted to help researchers identify the varying and available measures of ER that may lend themselves to diverse research goals, such as the emerging role of ER in contemporary cognitive-behavioral theory. A comprehensive literature search is being conducted using multiple electronic databases including PsycINFO, PubMed/Ovid MEDLINE and the Cochrane Central Register. Terms indicative of ER (i.e., Emotion regulation, emotion dysregulation, affect regulation, affect dysregulation, emotional expression) will be combined in each database. Inclusion criteria will be articles that were 1) written in English, 2) published in a peer-reviewed journal up to January 2020, and 3) measuring ER in an adult sample (≥ 18 years). Each article will be evaluated using these pre-defined inclusion criteria through an abstract, title, test measures, and keyword(s) search. Test measures of ER will be extracted from each study, and integrated into a comprehensive list of all ER measures. Finally, for each ER measure, an overview of the following data will be provided: ER strategies assessed, aspects of ER addressed (e.g., cognitive constructs, behavioural implications), whether it considers components of ER flexibility (e. g. , goals, context, state ER), psychometric properties, number of empirical articles including the measure, number of clinical trials for CBT including the measure, and the field of research in which it has been published (e.g., clinical psychology, neuropsychology, sports psychology, oncology). Although research in ER has made notable progress in defining the many strategies we use to regulate our emotions, this review will serve to update and strengthen our understanding of how ER has been defined and measured to date. Finally, by highlighting the components of ER included in CBT research to date, this project will provide valuable insight regarding the current status of ER in Cognitive Behavioural Therapies.

We are looking for motivated volunteers interested in emotion regulation, to help with article screening and data extraction. For more information, please contact Cassandra Fehr at cfehr053@uottawa.ca.

The ‘lived’ Experience of Emotion Regulation and Perceptions of Control in People Experiencing Anxiety related to COVID-19.

How we manage our emotions is an important part of our overall general well-being. However, people manage their emotions and distress in a variety of ways. In order to help us understand more about how people manage emotion, this study will explore people’s ‘lived’ experiences with managing anxiety and worry related to COVID-19. Eligibility: women between the ages of 26-65 years who are experiencing marked anxiety and worry related to any aspect of COVID-19 and are willing to speak about their emotional experiences through an online videoconferencing platform (i.e., Zoom). "Marked anxiety and worry" refers to the person' subjective interpretation of your anxiety. We do not require that you meet a specific threshold of anxiety or worry. For this criteria, eligibility is met if you report experiencing and/or are bothered by your anxiety and worry related to COVID-19. Participants must have a good internet connection, and access to a camera and microphone, as well as a minimally distracting area for the duration of the study. Compensation: Participants will receive a 25$ electronic Amazon.ca gift card. For more information, please contact Cassandra Fehr at cfehr053@uottawa.ca.

“I’m only going for one drink”: Investigating Thoughts, Emotions, and Drinking Behaviours

The purpose of this study is to better understand people’s thoughts, emotions, and drinking behaviours. Individuals willing to participate will be asked to complete a number of online questionnaires.    

Watch Where You Look! A New Way of Measuring Spider Fear

The aim of this study is to test new ways of measuring cognition related to fear of spiders. Participants must have completed the online study entitled “Understanding Thoughts & Feelings 2” and be sent an invitation code in order to participate in this study. Participants will come in to the laboratory for 2 one-hour sessions, which will take place 7 days apart. Participants will be asked to book both sessions when they sign up. During those two sessions, participants will complete questionnaires, as well as computerized and in-person cognitive and behavioural tasks. Data collection for this study is currently on pause due to COVID-19.

What do YOU think? Helping to improve people’s interpersonal relationships

The aim of this study is to develop a training program to increase individuals’ social skills. Individuals willing to participate in this one-hour online study will be asked to accept a Zoom meeting invitation from a research assistant and stay connected to the meeting for the duration of the study. Participants will complete a number of online questionnaires, in addition to a behavioural task, and a computerized task. For the purposes of this study, participants must be very fluent in English, as the measures are only available in English. We also require that participants have a good internet connection, participate on a computer (e.g., desktop/laptop) or a tablet that has a webcam and microphone that can be turned ON, and a private and distraction-free area (e.g., a closed bedroom in a shared apartment/house) for the duration of the study. Participants will be required to provide their email address, phone number, and current address upon initiating the study. However, once they have completed the study, we will delete this information. Compensation: Participation will take approximately one hour, and participants will be compensated with one (1) course credit (ISPR students) or will have their name put in a draw for one of three Amazon.ca gift cards. After signing up, participants can expect an email at least 24 hours in advance with invitations/instructions for Zoom. Additionally, based on participants’ responses, they may be contacted by the CADRe Laboratory for future studies, if they consent and provide their name and email address during the study. Please contact Ryan Ferguson at rferg071@uottawa.ca.

Towards a culturally-informed understanding of emotion regulation: Knowledge synthesis and international expert consensus

We were delighted to receive a 2-year Insight Development Grant from SSHRC for this project. Emotion regulation (ER)—people’s ability to modify the type, intensity, or expression of an emotion—is a fundamental process that plays a role in virtually every human experience. Although researchers have explored various cross-cultural differences in specific components of ER, there is no overarching model of ER that incorporates culture as a core feature. This 2-year research program funded by SSHRC is a crucial first step in developing an evidence-based model of ER founded in cross-cultural psychology. Our overarching goal is to identify the key cultural factors that must be included in any future model of emotion regulation, informed by both the research literature and international expert consensus. Throughout this project, we have prioritized best practices in knowledge synthesis and group consensus methods, supported by team members with the appropriate expertise (Dr. Ouimet, along with Drs. Gioia BottesiMarta GhisiMonnica WilliamsSusan Humphrey-Murto, and Mr. Patrick Labelle) . We are currently conducting a Scoping Review (Study 1) to answer two important questions: 1) Which cultural factors or characteristics have been studied in relation to ER broadly? 2) Which specific features of ER have been studied in relation to culture? Using contemporary methodological guidelines, we will map the current state of the literature to produce a list of cultural factors potentially important to ER. Then, we will bring together researchers in emotion regulation and cross-cultural psychology worldwide to obtain international expert consensus on the KEY cross-cultural factors that MUST be included in any future model of emotion regulation (Delphi, Study 2). This final list of factors will serve as a springboard for a larger future research project in which we will develop and test a culturally-informed model of ER.

How do you feel? Exploring reactions to emotional pictures

The aim of this study is to investigate how people regulate their feelings when asked to view emotional pictures. Participants will first complete a set of questionnaires, they will then view a series of emotional pictures, and complete a behavioural task. In addition, participants will be asked to wear sensors on their face and hand for a portion of the study. Data collection for this study is currently on pause due to COVID-19.

Understanding Emotion Regulation With and Without Anxiety

See the recruitment posters below!

Recruitment Poster 1

Recruitment Poster 2

Recruitment Poster 3

Completed Reseach
Exploring the impact of safety behaviour use on cognitive, psychophysiological, emotional and behavioural responses during a speech task

There is a debate among researchers and clinicians regarding whether the judicious use of safety behaviours (SBs) during exposure therapy is helpful or detrimental. Central to this debate is the premise that SBs may interfere with one’s ability to gather disconfirmatory evidence. No study to date has assessed how SB use may impact cognitive mechanisms implicated during an exposure-like task. We investigated multiple cognitive, emotional, and psychophysiological underpinnings of exposure with and without SBs. Speech anxious participants (N = 111) were randomly assigned to deliver an evaluated speech with or without SBs. Self-reported anxiety ratings and psychophysiological arousal measures were recorded at baseline, in anticipation of the speech, and following the speech. Measures of working memory, ability to gather disconfirmatory evidence, speech duration, objective and subjective speech performance, and speech task acceptability were administered. There were no differences between conditions on working memory, self-reported anxiety, psychophysiological arousal, ability to gather disconfirmatory evidence, speech duration, or objective and subjective speech performance. All participants were able to gather disconfirmatory evidence. However, condition did influence willingness to deliver future speeches. Our sample was largely female undergraduate students, and we offered only a small number of specific safety behaviours. Judicious SB use may not necessarily be detrimental, but clients may believe them to be more helpful than they actually are. Read the published article describing this work here!

Dealing with feelings

The aim of this study was to investigate emotion regulation to better understand the relationships between thinking and feeling. Participants first completed a set of questionnaires; then, they viewed a number of pictures while wearing sensors on the face and hand, which measured subtle changes in involuntary psychophysiological activity. 

Can You Believe It? Examining the Influence of Safety Behaviour Beliefs on Speech Task Outcomes

Beliefs and expectations about treatment have been shown to significantly impact treatment outcomes in medical settings. However, researchers have seldom examined the role of beliefs within the context of cognitive behavioural therapy. Beliefs may be particularly salient for safety behaviour (SB) use in exposure therapy, as clinicians often hold opinions about whether judicious SB use facilitates or inhibits treatment. These beliefs may consequently be relayed during psychoeducation, influencing client expectations of safety behaviour helpfulness and exposure efficacy. We investigated experimentally the influence of SB beliefs on: working memory, speech predictions, speech duration, anxiety, performance, and speech acceptability. Speech anxious undergraduate participants (N = 144) received psychoeducation on exposure and were told (using random assignment) either that SBs: increase anxiety (unhelpful), decrease anxiety (helpful), or were provided with no information on SBs (control). People in the helpful condition only believed the exposure would be more successful. Crucially, exposure expectancy mediated the relationship between the helpful (but not unhelpful) condition and willingness to engage in future exposures. There were no effects of condition on most cognitive, emotional, or behavioural outcomes, suggesting that SBs (and SB beliefs) may have less impact on exposure outcomes than is currently believed. See a poster presented on this topic here: WCBCT Poster (WCBCT Poster, 757.13 KB). You can also check out the newly published article here!

Measuring implicit associations in social anxiety: Anxious or rejected?

We had two main goals in this study. First, we tested whether we could use facial electomyography (f-EMG)—measuring subtle facial movements through physiological equipment—to assess people’s implicit associations related to social anxiety. 42 participants with high social anxiety and 39 participants with low social anxiety completed several online questionnaires to assess their baseline anxiety and depression symptoms. Then they completed two implicit association tests (IATs) measuring the degree to which they associate themselves (vs. others) with anxiety (vs. calmness) and rejection (vs. being accepted), respectively, while equipped with f-EMG sensors. Finally, they completed a 5-minute impromptu, judged speech for up to 5 minutes, and reported on their anxiety before and during the speech. We are currently analyzing data for this study (Check back later!). We think that people in the high social anxiety group will show stronger social anxiety-relevant implicit associations and, moreover, will exhibit more “frowning” during inconsistent pairings (e.g., self-accepted) on the f-EMG measure, compared to the low social anxiety group. We also think that the implicit associations and f-EMG measure will predict their behaviour on the speech task (i.e., strong implicit associations will be related to decreased time speaking and more anxiety during the speech), over and above their self-reported social anxiety. We hope that our findings will provide important information about the way that implicit cognition—which people can’t always report—contributes to symptoms and may even hinder effective treatment.

Are You Flexible? Validating New Measures of Mental and Physical Health.

The goal of this study was to investigate the effect of malleability beliefs (i.e., the extent to which one believes they can change their emotion in the moment) on emotion regulation flexibility in an anxiety-provoking context (i.e., stressful speech-task). Adaptive emotion regulation (or ER Flexibility) comprises several components that, in combination, contribute to its adaptive value. These components include one’s ability to: 1) regulate their emotions in ways that facilitate the pursuit of meaningful goals (e.g., goal pursuit); 2) use a variety of strategies to regulate emotions (e.g., ER variability/repertoire); 3) perceive contextual demands and implement ER strategies accordingly (e.g., context sensitivity); and 4) monitor and adjust regulatory behaviour (e.g., responsiveness to feedback), 5) one’s effort to regulate emotion in the moment (e.g., state ER) and 6) the ways in which emotion is regulated (e.g., ER strategies). We also looked at whether greater ER flexibility was linked to greater general markers of well-being (i.e., symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, and heart rate variability). Due to COVID-19, data collection ended in March, 2020. Data analysis is currently ongoing.

You & Me: Examining Beliefs and Behaviours

The purpose of this study is to obtain information about how one’s views about themselves and others influences how we think, feel, and act. Data collection for this study has ended and we are currently writing the results for publication! Stay tuned for the paper!

Do you like me? Exploring the factors contributing to likeability

The aim of this study is to better understand the relationships between emotions and likeability. Participants will first complete a set of questionnaires. Then, they will complete a video-recorded behavioural task, while wearing sensors to measure subtle changes in emotional signs.

How does that make you feel? Exploring new tools for studying social skills

The aim of this study was to validate new tools for studying social skills. Individuals participated in a number of online questionnaires, in addition to a brief computerized task and a behavioural task. Participants were asked to wear electrodermal activity sensors on their non-dominant hand for the duration of the laboratory visit. Data collection for this study has ended and we are currently writing the results for publication! Stay tuned for the paper!


For a complete list of publications, please see ‪Dr Ouimet's ‪Google Scholar profile.
Cognitive and Behavioural Mechanisms of Anxiety

Ferguson, R. J., Ouimet, A. J., & Gardam, O. (2023). Judging others makes me forget: Assessing the cognitive, behavioural, and emotional consequences of other-evaluations on self-evaluations for social anxiety. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 101763. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbtep.2022.101763

Tutino, J. S., & Ouimet, A. J. (2021). Do words matter? Examining the influence of safety behaviour beliefs on speech task outcomes. Journal of Experimental Psychopathology, 12, 1-17. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F20438087211012161

Tutino, J. S., Ouimet, A. J., & Ferguson, R. J. (2020). Exploring the impact of safety behaviour use on cognitive, psychophysiological, and emotional responses during a speech task. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 48, 557-571. https://doi.org/10.1017/S13524658200007X

Ouimet, A. J., Ashbaugh, A. R., & Radomsky, A. S. (2019). Hoping for more: How cognitive science has and hasn’t been helpful to the OCD clinician. Clinical Psychology Review, 69, 14-29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2018.04.003

Ouimet, A. J., Radomsky, A. S., & Barber, K. C. (2012). Interrelationships between spider-fear associations, attentional disengagement and self-reported fear: A preliminary test of a dual-systems model. Cognition & Emotion, 26, 1428-1444. https://doi.org/10.1080/02699931.2012.671175

Ouimet, A. J., Gawronski, B., & Dozois, D. J. A. (2009). Cognitive vulnerability to anxiety: A review and an integrative model. Clinical Psychology Review, 29, 459-470. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2009.05.004

Emotion Regulation

Bahl, N., & Ouimet, A. J. (2022). Smiling won’t make you feel better, but it might make people like you more: Interpersonal and intrapersonal consequences of response-focused emotion regulation strategies. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 39, 2262-2284. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F02654075221077233 (Also available on PsyArXiv: https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/bgfwq)

Bahl, N., & Ouimet, A. J. (2022). Smiling won’t necessarily make you feel better: Response-focused emotion regulation strategies have little impact on cognitive, behavioural, physiological, and subjective outcomes. Journal of Behavioural Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 74. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbtep.2021.101695 (Also available on PsyArXiv: https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/9a2gn) *Included on journal’s list of top downloaded articles in previous 90 days (May 2022)*

Ouimet, A. J., Kane, L., & Tutino, J. S. (2016). Fear of anxiety or fear of emotions? Anxiety sensitivity is indirectly related to anxiety and depressive symptoms via emotion regulation. Cogent Psychology, 3, 1249132. https://doi.org/10.1080/23311908.2016.1249132

Sex and Anxiety (with SAX-RG)

Shaughnessy, K., Fehr, C. J., Ashley, M., Braham, J., Labelle, P. R., Ouimet, A. J., Corsini-Munt, S., Ashbaugh, A. R., & Reissing, E. D. (2022). Technology-Mediated Sexual Interactions, Social Anxiety, and Sexual Wellbeing: A Scoping Review. European Journal of Investigation in Health, Psychology and Education, 12(8), 904–932. https://doi.org/10.3390/ejihpe12080066

Kane, L., Dawson, S. J., Shaughnessy, K., Reissing, E. D., Ouimet, A. J., & Ashbaugh, A. R. (2019). A review of experimental research on anxiety and sexual arousal: Implications for the treatment of sexual dysfunction using cognitive-behavioural therapy. Journal of Experimental Psychopathology, 10. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F2043808719847371

Tutino, J. S, Shaughnessy, K., & Ouimet, A. J. (2018). Looking at the bigger picture: Young men’s sexual health from a psychological perspective. Journal of Health Psychology, 23, 345-358. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105317733321

Tutino, J. S, Ouimet, A. J., & Shaughnessy, K. (2017). How do psychological risk factors predict sexual outcomes? A comparison of four models of young women’s sexual health. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 14, 1232-1240. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2017.07.011

International Collaborations

Sarr, F. S., Knight, S., Strauss, D., Ouimet, A. J., Cénat, Jude Mary, Williams, Monnica T., & Shaughnessy, K. (2022). Increasing the representation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour as students in psychology doctoral programs. Canadian Psychology, 63(4), 479-499. https://doi.org/10.1037/cap0000339

Jacob, G., Faber, S. C., Faber, N., Bartlett, A., Ouimet, A. J., & Williams, M. T. (in press). A systematic review of Black people coping with racism: Approaches, analysis, and empowerment. Perspectives on Psychological Science.

Bottesi, G., Ouimet, A. J., Cerea, S., Granziol, U., Carraro, E., Sica, C., Ghisi, M. (2020). Comprehensive behavioral therapy of Trichotillomania: A multiple-baseline single-case experimental design. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 1210. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01210

Tobon, J., Zipurskey, R. B., Streiner, D. L., Colvin, E., Bahl, N., Ouimet, A. J., Burckell, L., Jeffs, L., and Bieling, P. J. (2020). Motivational enhancement as a pretreatment to a transdiagnostic intervention for emerging adults with emotion dysregulation: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 29, 132-148. https://www.cacap-acpea.org/wp-content/uploads/Motivational-Enhancement-as-a-Pretreatment.pdf

Bottesi, G., Cerea, S., Ouimet, A. J., Sica, C., & Ghisi, M. (2016). Affective correlates of trichotillomania across the pulling cycle: Findings from an Italian sample of self-identified hair pullers. Psychiatry Research, 246, 606–611. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2016.10.080

Farrell, N., Ouimet, A. J., Rowa, K., Soreni, N., Swinson, R. P., & McCabe, R. E. (2016). Who gets better when? An examination of trajectories of change in group CBT for obsessive-compulsive disorder. Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders, 10, 35-41. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jocrd.2016.05.003

Ghisi, M., Bottesi, G., Sica, C., Ouimet, A. J., & Sanavio, E. (2013). Prevalence, phenomenology and diagnostic criteria of hair-pulling in an Italian non-clinical sample: A preliminary study. Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders, 2, 22-29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jocrd.2012.09.003

Experimental Methods

Ouimet, A. J., Ferguson, R. J., Burla, A., Gardam, O., & Oueis, J. (2022). Conducting experimental psychopathology research in an experimenter-guided online environment, Part 1: Clinical and ethical considerations for potentially vulnerable participants. SAGE Research Methods Cases: Doing Research Online. https://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781529604276

Ferguson, R. J., Ouimet, A. J., Gardam, O., Oueis, J. & Burla, A. (2022). Conducting experimental psychopathology research in an experimenter-guided online environment, Part 2: Practical and technical considerations for experimental manipulations. SAGE Research Methods Cases: Doing Research Online. https://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781529604085

Ouimet, A. J., Dixon-Luinenburg, T., & Rooyakkers, M. (2021). Experimental psychopathology at the crossroads: Reflections on past, present, and future contributions to cognitive behavioural therapy. International Journal of Cognitive Therapy, 14, 133-159. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41811-020-00093-4

Narvaez-Linares, N. F., Charron, V., Ouimet, A. J., Labelle, P. R., & Plamondon, H. (2020). A systematic review of the Trier Social Stress Test methodology: Issues in promoting study comparison and replicable research. Neurobiology of Stress, 13,100235. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ynstr.2020.100235

Cognitive and Behavioural Mechanisms of Anxiety

Ferguson, R. J., Snyder, T., & Ouimet, A. J. (May, 2022). I judge myself but I judge others more: Cognitive effects of negative self-evaluations following false-feedback on negative other-evaluations. Poster presented at the Canadian Association of Cognitive Behavioural Therapies convention, Vancouver, BC/Virtual.

Ferguson, R. J., & Ouimet, A. J. (November, 2021). Not all judgments are created equal: Addressing how judgments of anxious others and social anxiety symptoms co-vary using a cluster analysis. Poster Presentation at the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Convention, Virtual.

Ouimet, A. J., Dixon-Luinenburg, T., & Tutino, J. S. (July, 2019). Yes and No: Understanding the impact of repeated negation and repeated reappraisal on automatic associations, spider fear, and spider approach behaviour. Poster presented at the World Congress of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies, Berlin, GE.

Tutino, J.S., & Ouimet, A. J. (July, 2019). Do words matter? Exploring the effect of safety behaviour beliefs on exposure credibility, expectancy, and acceptability. Poster presented at the World Congress of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies, Berlin, GE.

Ferguson, R. J., & Ouimet, A. J. (May, 2019). Evaluating the double-standard: Exploring the impact of negative other-evaluations in social anxiety. Poster presented at the Canadian Association of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies conference, Montreal, QC.

Dixon-Luinenburg, T. D., Tutino, J. S., & Ouimet, A. J. (May, 2019). Words matter! Manipulating people’s beliefs about safety behaviours can indirectly impact their willingness to engage in future speech exposure exercises. Poster presented at the Canadian Association of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies conference, Montreal, QC.

Tutino, J. S., Dixon-Luinenburg, T. L., Bowie, K. L. M., Rooyakkers, M., & Ouimet, A. J. (May, 2018). “I was so anxious that I barely remember my speech!” The influence of safety behaviour use on ability to gather disconfirmatory evidence during a speech task. Poster presented at the Canadian Association of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies, Vancouver, BC.

Ouimet, A. J., Bahl, N., Ferguson, R. J., Bowie, K. L. M., & Kalpak, M. (May, 2018). Thinking fast and slow in social anxiety: Implicit associations and mechanisms of change according to CBT models. In K. Barber & D. Moscovitch (Co-chairs), Innovations and advances in CBT processes for social anxiety: Mobilizing new knowledge from experimental and treatment studies. Symposium conducted at the meeting of the Canadian Association of Cognitive Behavioural Therapies, Vancouver, BC.

Emotion Regulation

Haddad, A., Fehr, C. J., & Ouimet, A. J. (May, 2021). Not just about strategies: Exploring beliefs about emotions, regulation strategies, and state emotion dysregulation. Poster presented at the Canadian Association of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies convention, Virtual via Gather Town.

Bahl, N., Nachabe, J., Rooyakkers, M. & Ouimet, A. J. (July, 2019). Just smile and breathe! You will feel…better? Comparing the impacts of expressive suppression and expressive dissonance on indicators of sympathetic nervous system arousal. Poster presented at the World Congress of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies, Berlin, GE.

Fehr, C., & Ouimet, A. J. (July, 2019). Do emotion regulation strategies mediate the relationship between perceived control & fear and avoidance in social anxiety? Poster presented at the World Congress of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies, Berlin, GE.

Sex and Anxiety (with SAX-RG)

Birch, M. J., Noorishad, P.-G., Ashbaugh, A. R., Corsini-Munt, S., Ouimet, A. J., Reissing, E., & Shaughnessy, K. (May, 2022). Are technology-mediated sexual interactions forms of safety behaviour for people high in social anxiety. Poster presented at the Canadian Association of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies, Vancouver, BC/Virtual.

Kane, L., Dawson, S. J., Shaughnessy, K., Reissing, E. D., Ouimet, A. J., & Ashbaugh, A. R. (May, 2019). Anxiety inhibits sexual arousal… or does it? A review of the impact of cognitive-behavioral components of anxiety on sexual response. Poster presented at the Society for Sex Therapy & Research 44th Annual Meeting, Toronto, ON.

International Collaborations

Sarr, F., Knight, S., Strauss, D., Ouimet, A. J., Cénat, J.-M., Williams, M. T., & Shaughnessy, K. (June, 2022). Increasing the representation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour as Students in Psychology Doctoral Programs. Poster presented at the Canadian Psychological Association Convention, Calgary, AB.

Braham, J., Ashley, M., Fehr, C., Ashbaugh, A. R., Corsini-Munt, S., Labelle, P.,R., Ouimet, A. J., Reissing, E., & Shaughnessy, K. (May, 2022). Increasing the representation of Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour as Students in Psychology Doctoral Programs. Poster presented at the Canadian Association of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies, Vancouver, BC/Virtual.

Experimental Methods

Ferguson, R. J., Oueis, J., Burla, A., Gardam, O., & Ouimet, A. J. (May, 2022). Conducting clinical science and experimental psychopathology research in a virtual setting: Results from transitioning to an online lab. Poster presented at the Canadian Association of Cognitive Behavioural Therapies convention, Vancouver, BC/Virtual.

Ouimet, A. J. (Chair) (July, 2019). Open Science and reproducibility in CBT research: Where do we go from here? Panel discussion (with M. G. Craske, B. A. Teachman, P. McEvoy, & A. Burger) presented at the World Congress of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies, Berlin, GE.

Cognitive and Behavioural Mechanisms of Anxiety

Ouimet, A. J., & Ashbaugh, A. R. (2017). Stepped-Care Treatment of Anxiety (pp. 253-275). In W. O’Donohue, L. James, & C. Snipes (Eds.) Practical strategies and tools to promote treatment engagement. Springer.

Ouimet, A. J. (2016). Integrating the Reflective Impulsive Model with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for anxiety disorders (pp. 189-204). In R. Deutsch, B. Gawronski, & W. Hofmann (Eds.). Reflective and Impulsive Determinants of Human Behavior. Psychology Press.

Cognitive and Behavioural Mechanisms of Anxiety

Ferguson, R. J., & Ouimet, A. J. (under review). Negative self-evaluations do not cause negative other-evaluations: Findings from a false-feedback experiment examining cognitive and emotional consequences in social anxiety. Available on PsyArXiv: https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/pvhq8

Knowledge Transfer

Ferguson, R. J., Oueis, J., Burla, A., Gardam, O., & Ouimet, A. J. (2022). We found research in a COVID place: Reports from two years of conducting clinical science and experimental psychopathology research in the online lab. The Canadian Clinical Psychologist: Newsletter of the Clinical Section of the Canadian Psychological Association, Spring 2022, 11-12.

Ouimet, A. J. (Guest Editor), & Ferguson, R. J. (2019). Innovations and advances in cognitive behavioral therapy: Insights from experimental psychopathology. Special Collection Editorial, Journal of Experimental Psychopathology, OnlineFirst. https://doi.org/10.1177/2043808719874966

Ouimet, A. J., Shaughnessy, K., & Tutino, J. S. (2017). Transdiagnostic psychological factors and sexual health: Looking through a broader lens at men’s and women’s sexual experiences. The Canadian Clinical Psychologist: Newsletter of the Clinical Section of the Canadian Psychological Association, 28(1), 9-10.

Ouimet, A. J., & Radomsky, A. S. (2011). [Review of B. Gawronski & B. K. Payne (Eds.): Handbook of implicit social cognition: Measurement, theory, and applications. New York: Guilford, 2010]. Canadian Psychology, 52, 241-242. (Review selected for inclusion on Amazon.com)

Covin, R., Dozois, D. J. A., Ouimet, A. J., & Seeds, P. M. (2007). Don’t worry! CBT is an effective treatment for GAD: So now what? Advances in Cognitive Therapy, 9 (2/3), 5.

Anxiety 101

Specific phobia

What is specific phobia?

Almost everyone has a fear – mice, needles, flying on a plane, etc. We may feel uneasy, frightened or even try to avoid our fears, but people with specific phobia express a persistent and irrational fear that is excessive and driven by the presence or anticipation of a specific object or situation (APA, 2013). Although individuals with specific phobia may recognize their fear as unreasonable or extreme, exposure to or anticipation of to the phobic stimulus/situation prompts an anxiety response (e.g., symptoms of heart racing, nausea, diarrhea, sweating, trembling, numbness, problems with breathing, feeling dizzy), or the phobic situation/object is completely avoided. Importantly, the distress, avoidance, or anxious anticipation of the feared situation/object must interfere significantly with the person’s daily routine, occupational (or academic) functioning, social activities, or relationships for at least six months, to meet diagnostic criteria of specific phobia.

For example:

“Normal” fear Phobia
Feeling nervous when you see a pit bull at a park. Missing a picnic with your friends because you are afraid that you may see a dog at the park.
Experiencing heart palpitations when peering down from the 20th floor of a building. Turning down an amazing job offer because it’s on the 20th floor of an office building.
Feeling nauseous when getting a shot at a doctor’s office. Avoiding necessary medical treatments or doctor’s checkups because you’re terrified of needles.

Types of specific phobias

There are four general types of phobias and fears:

  • Animal type: fear relating to animals or insects
  • Natural environment type: fear associated with the natural environment (e.g. fear of thunder or heights).
  • Situational type: fear of specific situations (e.g. elevators, bridges, or driving)
  • Blood/injection/injury type: fear of medical procedures, blood, or getting injured
  • Other: any other specific phobias (e.g. fear of choking, contracting an illness, costumed characters)
Panic disorder and Agoraphobia

Panic disorder is characterized by unexpected and recurring panic attacks, which contribute to worry about the occurrence or consequences of such attacks (APA, 2013). Panic attacks can best be described as a sudden feeling of intense fear or discomfort that lasts several minutes (APA, 2013). During panic attacks, an individual might start to sweat, have heart palpitations, start shaking, feel dizzy, fear that they might die, as well as many other distressing symptoms. People who are anxious about experiencing panic attacks may also show fear towards two or more of the following: public transportation, open spaces, enclosed spaces, being in a crowd, or being alone and away from their home. When people actively avoid these situations because of thoughts that escape may be difficult or impossible if they were to develop panic-like or embarrassing symptoms, they are diagnosed with Agoraphobia.

Clark’s (1986) cognitive model proposes that panic attacks are a result of catastrophically misinterpreting our bodily sensations, mainly, our sensations related to normal anxiety responses. Commonly misinterpreted sensations include - but are not limited to - breathlessness, dizziness, and palpitations (Clark, 1986). These sensations are often perceived as more dangerous than they actually are. For example, people with panic disorder often misinterpret normal changes in heart rate as an indication that they are having a panic attack. They may then do things to reduce their anxiety, like sit down or go to the emergency room, which tends to make their anxiety worse in the long term by reinforcing their beliefs that they are unable to tolerate changes in bodily symptoms, or that they should never go into hot rooms because they may trigger a heart attack.

Social anxiety disorder

Social anxiety has been defined as the fear of social or performance situations in which others may scrutinize the individual (APA, 2013). This fear can be specific to one or two situations (e.g., public speaking) or can generalize across many situations (e.g., speaking on the phone, being assertive, eating in front of others, going to parties). Whereas some anxiety about being liked by others is adaptive, excessive anxiety can lead to avoidance of social situations, which can severely impact quality of life. Sometimes people attend social situations even though they are anxious, but use safety behaviours, such as staying silent, interacting only with a trusted other, drinking alcohol, or bringing their phone so they can appear busy whenever they need to. Both avoidance and safety behaviour reduce anxiety in the short-term, but increase social anxiety in the long term, by confirming maladaptive beliefs such as “I never have anything to say to others”, “It would be terrible if somebody rejected me”, and “I can’t tolerate feeling anxious in front of others.

In addition to these explicit beliefs, implicit or automatic associations in memory between these situations and concepts such as scrutiny and evaluation can characterize this fear. Thus, implicit associations—automatic mental associations between concepts in memory—are correlated with social anxiety severity and they may also be modified to reduce social anxiety (Clerkin & Teachman, 2010). Moreover, automatic associations may also contribute to cognitive biases towards threat-related stimuli (Ouimet, Gawronski, & Dozois, 2009). For example, a person with speech-related social anxiety that is giving a speech may concentrate their attention on the one person that is yawning (attentional bias) and interpret this as “I must be boring” (interpretational bias).

Generalized anxiety disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by exaggerated, uncontrollable, and unrealistic worry about many aspects of life, such as money, work, relationships, health, etc. GAD symptoms often include obsessive worrying, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, indecisiveness, and a variety of physical manifestations of anxiety (e.g., headaches, trouble sleeping, etc.). One model of GAD suggests that the main driving force of the worry is intolerance of uncertainty (e.g., Dugas, Gosselin, & Ladouceur, 2001). When people have difficulty tolerating uncertainty (e.g., what if the bus is late and I miss my appointment?), they may do things to try to reduce their anxiety, such as always leaving 30 minutes early for an appointment. This behaviour can make their anxiety worse in the long-term by reinforcing beliefs such as “I must always plan for any possible problem” and increasing worry.

Obsessive compulsive disorder

An individual with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) has obsessions, compulsions, or both (APA, 2013). An obsession is defined as recurring and persisting thoughts, images, or urges that are unwanted or intrusive, which cause anxiety or distress to the individual. People may try to ignore or suppress these thoughts with other thoughts or actions to reduce their anxiety. They may also engage in compulsions, which are repetitive behaviours used to reduce the anxiety and distress that result from these thoughts.

Researchers suggest that people with OCD catastrophically misinterpret the meaning of their intrusive thoughts as indicating that they are immoral, dangerous, or crazy (Rachman 1997, 1998). Although the things they do to cope with this interpretation reduce their anxiety in the short-term (e.g., checking to make sure the stove is off shows that I’m a good person), it likely increases anxiety in the long-term by reinforcing maladaptive beliefs (If I don’t check the stove, I’m a bad person).

Health / Illness anxiety

Health/Illness Anxiety is an anxiety disorder characterized by excessive worrying about one’s current and/or future health status. This obsessive preoccupation of having or eventually developing a serious medical condition is often the result of an individual’s catastrophic misinterpretation of harmless physical symptoms, and persists despite reassurance by healthcare providers that the individual does not suffer from feared diseases/illnesses (APA, 2013). Interestingly, cognitive models suggest that symptoms may actually persist because of reassurance by healthcare providers, or other things people do to reduce their anxiety (Furer & Walker, 2008; Warwick & Salkovskis, 1990). For example, somebody who is worried that a beauty mark is a sign of cancer, may repeatedly touch, poke, and check the beauty mark to make sure that it hasn’t changed. As a result, the skin around the beauty mark may actually become red or swollen, providing “evidence” to the person that they have skin cancer (when in fact, the beauty mark is benign).

CBT for anxiety disorders

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the most supported therapy for anxiety disorders (Norton, 2007). CBT involves two main components, although these likely both impact thoughts and behaviour:

  • Cognitive therapy: explores how negative thoughts or cognitions contribute to anxiety
  • Behaviour therapy: examines behaviours and reactions in situations that trigger anxiety.

The theoretical models behind CBT posit that our thoughts about a situation influence how we feel emotionally and physically, and subsequently affect how we behave in that situation. These behaviours, in turn, are believed to reinforce the original maladaptive thoughts. The target of CBT for anxiety is to recognize and modify the negative thoughts and beliefs, in order to reduce anxiety symptomology and maladaptive behaviours triggered by anxiety.

CBT for anxiety disorders may include:

  • Learning to identify and describe physiological symptoms when one is experiencing anxiety
  • Testing beliefs about different situations to see whether there is any evidence that they are true
  • Confronting fears – either imaginative or in real life

An important treatment technique used in CBT is cognitive restructuring, the process whereby one tests the negative thinking that contributes to his/her anxiety, and hopefully develops more helpful thoughts.


Situation: Maria has a job interview to attend but she wants to cancel it because she is feeling very anxious, believes that she will fumble her words, and the interviewer will see her sweating profusely.

Negative thought: What if my mind goes blank on a question? They will think I am unqualified and a waste of their time.

Testing the thought: Will I actually be refused a job if I stutter on a couple of words? I have seen lots of people stutter, and not rejected them. Also, I’ve gotten most jobs I’ve interviewed for in the past.

Finding more helpful thoughts: It is common for interviewees to feel and look nervous while giving an interview. If I fumble my words, I can take a deep breath, and slow down my talking.

Other important treatment techniques used in CBT include behavioural experiments and exposure, both of which involve testing out the effects of a specific behaviour to see whether a prediction is accurate.


Situation: Maria has a job interview to attend but she wants to cancel it because she is feeling very anxious, believes that she will fumble her words, and the interviewer will see her sweating profusely.

Negative prediction: What if my mind goes blank on a question? They will think I am unqualified and a waste of their time.

Testing the thought: Maria and her therapist go together to talk to different people in the building. The therapist intentionally stutters words and makes a few mistakes. Maria observes the other person in the conversation looking for specific signs of rejection or negative evaluation. 

Outcome: Maria notices that people do not tend to react negatively to the therapist jumbling his/her words, and gathers some evidence that people often make small mistakes in conversation that are not catastrophic.


The CADRe lab is interested in explaining how anxiety disorders develop and are maintained. To achieve this, we use a variety of techniques including cognitive and behavioural tasks, self-report questionnaires, and psychophysiological measures. Our goal is to use this information to help improve the efficacy and effectiveness of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).


You can find out more information about anxiety and other mental health problems at the following websites:

If you would like to receive support or help for psychological problems in the Ottawa area, the following resources may be of use:

Distress Centre Lines: 

  • Ottawa Distress Centre, 613-238-3311
  • Tel-Aide Outaouais, 613-741-6433
  • Centre d’Aide 24-7, 819-595-9999


Resources: COVID-19  

If you are interested in seeking self-help resources, the Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies maintains a searchable database of recommended books for a series of concerns, which can be found online: http://www.abct.org/SHBooks/



American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5 (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc.

Clark, D.A., & Beck, A.T. (2010). Cognitive therapy of anxiety disorders. New York: Guilford Press

Clark, D. M.(1986). A cognitive model of panic. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 24(4), 461–470.

Clerkin, E. M., & Teachman, B. A. (2010). Training implicit social anxiety associations: An experimental intervention. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 24(3), 300–308.

Dugas, M. J., Gosselin, P., & Ladouceur, R. (2001). Intolerance of uncertainty and worry: Investigating specificity in a nonclinical sample. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 25(5), 551–558.

Furer, P., & Walker, J. R. (2008). Death Anxiety: A Cognitive-Behavioral Approach. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 22(2), 167–182. http://doi.org/10.1891/0889-8391.22.2.167

Ouimet, A. J., Gawronski, B., & Dozois, D. J. A. (2009). Cognitive vulnerability to anxiety: A review and an integrative model. Clinical Psychology Review, 29(6), 459–470.

Rachman, S. (1997). A cognitive theory of obsessions. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 35(9), 793–802.

Rachman, S. (1998). A cognitive theory of obsessions: Elaborations. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 36(4), 385–401.

Warwick, H., & Salkovskis, P. M. (1990). Hypochondriasis. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 28(2), 105–117.

Lab Photos

Dr. Ryan Ferguson and Dr. Allison Ouimet at Ryan’s Convocation from the School of Psychology
Dr. Ryan Ferguson and Dr. Allison Ouimet at Ryan’s Convocation from the School of Psychology
Ryan Convocation Dinner
The CADRe Lab celebrated Ryan’s convocation with dinner out at Pure Kitchen

Contact the Lab


School of Psychology
Faculty of Social Sciences
University of Ottawa

136 Jean-Jacques Lussier
Vanier Hall, Room 6006
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 6N5

Tel.: 613-562-5800 ext. 4461

Directions to the Lab

We are located at the University of Ottawa in the Vanier building. When booking an appointment, we will send you detailed directions.

Please call us if you have any trouble finding us.