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WHO WE ARE


Tania Lecomte

Director: Tania Lecomte, Ph.D

Tania Lecomte is associate professor of psychology at the University of Montreal and researcher at Research Center of  the Institut Universitaire en Santé Mentale de Montréal , Montreal, Quebec. She has recently received the FRSQ senior research salary award for her work. Her research focuses on helping people in their recovery process by increasing our understanding of this process and by improving psychosocial treatments and practices for people with mental health problems such as psychosis and severe mental illness.

Dr Lecomte holds a doctorate degree in clinical psychology (University of Montreal) and a post-doctoral degree in psychiatric rehabilitation at UCLA’s Neuropsychiatric Institute. Her current research focuses on cognitive behavioral therapy for psychosis, first episodes of psychosis, vocational rehabilitation of people with severe mental illness, and concurrent disorders (psychosis and substance abuse). She has received over 24 research grants at the national level (Canada), including 16 as principal investigator. Several publications with peer review (53) resulted from her work, and over 112 scientific presentations. She is the author of internationally recognized group treatment manuals, such as I am Super!! (for self-esteem), CBT for psychosis, and WITH (for family members of individuals with early psychosis). She also co-directed with Claude Leclerc, inf. Ph.D., the French Psychiatric Rehabilitation Manual, published in 2004 and re-edited in 2012 by Les Presses de l’Université du Québec.

Research Interests
• Sever mental disorders
• Psychosis
• Psychiatric Rehabilitation
• Psychological therapies for psychosis (CBT, ACT)
• Validation of assessments and treatment modules
• Group interventions
• Mental health staff training

 

Collaborator : Claude Leclerc, Ph.D

Claude Leclerc is a nurse since 1980, holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in nursing from the University of Montreal, option Mental Health (1992) and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal (1998). He is AN Associate Professor in the Department of Nursing at the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières since 1992. He has worked in the department of psychiatry at Hôpital Louis-H. Lafontaine and the Hotel-Dieu of St. Jerome as a nurse, head nurse assistant to the nurse manager, coordinator and advisor to management in mental health. He is an associate researcher at the Axe Treatments and Rehabilitation populations Centre de recherche Fernand Seguin, affiliated with the Hôpital Louis-H. Lafontaine. His research projects mainly investigate ways to rehabilitate people with severe mental disorders (including first episode psychosis) and the organization of mental health services. His most recent projects aimes at developping new rehabilitation treatments from the cognitive behavioral therapy point of view (CBT) for various clients. He was appointed Emeritus AQIISM in 2004. He has published numerous scientific articles and contributed to several chapters. He collaborated with Dr. Tania Lecomte to the creation of the Manual “Handbook of Psychiatric Rehabilitation 2nd ed.” Published by Presses de l’Université du Québec in 2012. He further collaborated to 2 other manals entitled: Borderline Personality Disorder and rehabilitation: Perspectives of different stakeholders (Volume 1 in 2007 and Volume 2 in 2010). He offers a variety of trainings, including assessment of mental status and responses based on CBT.

 

Graduate students:

Kelly Cartwright, Psy.D student
Employment participation among persons with severe mental illness (SMI) is the lowest as compared with other types of mental illness. Much attention has been given to understanding the factors related to improving employability within this group, focused primarily on situational, programming, illness-related and client-related factors, and neglecting their subjective experience. My study explores the subjective experience of persons with SMI participating in supported employment programs as expressed in their personal narratives. The aim is to investigate the relationship between four aspects of their self-concept and indicators of their workplace participation.
Guillaume Fortin, Ph.D. student
Guillaume-FortinI began my Ph.D. in psychology (research and clinical intervention) in September 2008. My research project investigates how normal personality traits and personality disorders are related to getting and keeping a job among people with severe mental illnesses (SMI) enrolled in supported employment programs. A secondary goal of my research project is to validate French versions of short questionnaires aimed at measuring personality according to the Five-Factor model of personality. Besides working on this research project, I have also worked on the links between psychological and social well-being in relation to job attainment among people with SMI. I have collaborated to the validation of a social well-being questionnaire and to a meta-analysis on mindfulness as a clinical intervention.Since my integration to L’ESPOIR, I have mostly made thorough assessments of our research participants. This includes conducting clinical interviews (BPRS, SCID-II, SCID-II, STAND), administrating neurocognitive tasks (WCST, CVLT, FISH, BADE) and various questionnaires. I have also delivered group cognitive behavioral therapies to some of our participants with the goal of helping them to obtain and keep a job. Finally, I have rated semi-structured interviews (STAND) and participated in inter-rater agreement meetings.
Marjolaine Massé, Ph.D. student
Marjolaine-MasséThe overall objective of my thesis is to evaluate the interactions between environmental influences such as social network, social support, childhood trauma and metacognition (thinking about thinking), on the development of a comorbid substance misuse disorder in individuals with early psychosis. Sub-objectives will involve the evaluation of the effects of comorbid disorders and metacognition on perceived social support, describing changes in social network characteristics (size, percent kin, density, reciprocity etc) throughout the development, and finally to determine the role of social network on the onset of street drug use.My involvement in the lab extends to several projects including: doing evaluations for a project on group CBT for early psychosis, another project on group CBT for supported employment and qualitative coding for a focus group done with various stakeholders. The goal of this last project is to develop of tailored intervention for individuals with complex comorbid disorders. Working at the lab has also given me the opportunity to collaborate on several student projects.
Karine Paquin, Ph.D student
Karine-PaquinI am a new addition to the team LESPOIR as I have just started my PhD in clinical psychology in September 2011. I have a strong background in research since I have worked on several projects during my undergrad at Concordia and I also worked for a year as a research coordinator there. My main interest in research is social anxiety and as such, I am currently working on my doctoral project which aims at establishing if social anxiety and paranoia (i.e.: schizophrenia) are in fact on a continuum. My thesis is an addendum to a current project investigating social cognition deficit and retraining of emotion recognition in severe mental disorders. In addition, I am currently implicated in numerous research projects in the lab such as testing participants through psychiatric evaluations and clinical interviews, rating qualitative verbatims, data entry and writing of articles.
Rowena Pillay, Psy.D student
Rowena-PillayI have joined the lab as a graduate student in fall 2011, after completing my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with Honors at McGill University. My current research investigates factors inhibiting romantic relationship initiation in individuals who experience a first episode of psychosis. A better understanding of these factors might us develop or apply a group intervention that will help people wishing to be in a relationship after a psychotic episode, but not succeeding so far. I am also involved in some qualitative coding for other projects in the lab and am currently completing training procedures required to conduct clinical evaluations.
Alicia Spidel, Ph.D student
1450153_361212987349617_1780857741_nI completed my undergraduate and previous graduate training at the University of British Columbia. I have worked in many areas of mental health and research in both the community and correctional systems, namely with adult and adolescent male and female offenders and clients. I have worked as a researcher and a psychology assistant at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital (FPH), UBC, and Riverview Hospital, as well as for the Correction Services of Canada on their new Mental Health Initiative. At present, I am a clinician for provincial corrections, Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health while conducting my Ph.D. research under Dr Lecomte’s supervision. I have received many doctoral awards and have published over 25 journal articles and book chapters. My current research interests involve assessing the effects of a group mindfulness intervention to help people with psychosis who have experienced trauma.
Laurence Théroux, Ph.D. student
I did my undergraduate studies at Université de Montréal. As part of my bachelor degree, I completed a one year psychology honor program under the direction of Dr Maryse Lassonde, neuropsychologist. During this research experience, I developed an interest in neuroscience and cognition, as well as clinical psychology. In 2007, I started my graduate studies under the direction of Dr Lecomte. The work in L’ESPOIR gave me the opportunity of bringing together those different fields. My thesis focuses on the study of social cognition deficits in schizophrenia. More precisely, I work on social anxiety and facial emotion recognition deficits. Social phobia is seen as one of the most prevalent comorbidities in schizophrenia. Evidence of emotion recognition deficits in schizophrenia are well documented. Thus, the first part of my project aims at studying the possible links between the emotion recognition deficits and the high rate of social anxiety found in people with schizophrenia. Furthermore, the use of cognitive remediation has gained attention in our research field. With the growing use of such methods, it might be interesting to assess the clinical relevance and knowledge transfer of standardized training sessions in a real-life environment. A proposed second part of my project (acting as a pilot study) aims to evaluate the efficacy of facial emotion recognition deficits remediation, through the use of a computer-based program, on variables such as social anxiety, social functioning and self-esteem.
Anouk Latour-Desjardins, Psy.D. student
anoukI hold a BAC in Psychology from the University of Montreal and I started in the fall of 2013, a doctorate in clinical psychology at the same institution.
I am interested in disorders associated with psychosis, particularly in relation to intimacy in relationships among people who have experienced a first psychotic episode. I try to understand, using a qualitative approach, what promotes and limits the establishment of romantic relationships with this population.
I also wonder about the importance of privacy and how it is experienced in a relationship.
My thesis project is an addition to an ongoing project whose ultimate goal is to develop a therapy group to promote the development of healthy and satisfying romantic relationships among people who have experienced a first psychotic episode.
Anaïs Lavarenne, Ph.D. student
Anais_2(1)I am a Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology (research and intervention) at Université de Montréal. During my Ph.D., I am studying complex Dual Disorders (DDs) in adult psychiatry under the supervision of Prof. Tania Lecomte; my work also involves collaboration with other researchers.
Among individuals diagnosed with a severe mental illness (i.e. psychotic disorders, mood disorders), many present with a whole host of additional pathologies (i.e. substance use disorder + PTSD, and/or cluster B personality disorder, and/or depression or anxiety disorder, etc.). Intervening with patients diagnosed with these complex DDs represents a challenge for clinical teams, as oftentimes these patients do not respond well to standard treatments. My Ph.D. thesis aims to (1) investigate, by means of a qualitative design, how patients and their therapists experience complex DDs and their standard treatments, as well as to (2) develop and test an adapted third generation Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which will address jointly, and in an integrated manner, various aspects of these co-existing pathologies (i.e. affect regulation, trauma, etc.).
In addition to my Ph.D. work, I have been involved since 2010 in the laboratory LESPOIR as a research assistant on several other projects. As such, I have conducted many clinical assessments with patients diagnosed with a psychotic disorder. Additionally, I have worked as a therapist for the laboratory, conducting a number of CBT groups. My clinical training is now completed, following a pre-doctoral internship at the Jewish General Hospital (McGill University) in adult psychiatry (Inpatient unit). Throughout my clinical work I have developed a special interest in the question of loss and its interactions with mental health. I received training in, and use, a few psychotherapeutic approaches.
Crystal Samson, Ph.D. student
crystalCrystal is a PhD candidate from the University of Montreal. She is interested in the cognitive biases profiles in people with depression, psychotic depression or schizophrenic disorder. She received her BA in Psychology at the University of Ottawa. Under the supervision of Virginia Cobigo, she wrote an honors thesis on drugs dispensed to people with intellectual disabilities, with particular attention to antipsychotics.
Stéphanie Simard, Ph.D. student

IMG_3692-768x1024
I am a doctoral student in clinical psychology since 2014 and I hold a BA in Psychology from the University of Montreal. Previously, I got an MBA and worked in the communications field for some years. Later, I worked in a community shelter with people with significant mental health problems. This experience confirmed my desire work with schizophrenic people and contribute to the development of new treatments promoting personal, social and professional achievements in patients. As part of my research, I am interested in the third wave of therapies, including the approach to mindfulness in the treatment of social anxiety that is often comorbid with psychotic disorders. More precisely, I work on a pilot study on the treatment of social anxiety in people with schizophrenia: effects of a therapy based on compassion, acceptance and mindfulness.

Lab coordinator: Mélanie Lepage

Mélanie-LepageMelanie is the coordinator of the laboratory LESPOIR. Mainly, she recruits participants, coordinate assessments, data entry and other aspects of the various ongoing studies in the laboratory. In addition, she manages budgets and participates in grant applications.

She holds a bachelor’s in psychology, with an honors thesis in psycholinguistics, and a master’s in information science, strategic management profile. In the past, she has worked in several research laboratories at UQAM.

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