Advancing the Assessment and Treatment of Severe Irritability and Mood Dysregulation in Youth

Dr. Spencer Evans earned his Ph.D. in Clinical Child Psychology, with a Minor in Quantitative Methods, from the University of Kansas in 2017. His graduate research focused on the assessment, correlates, and outcomes of disruptive behavior in children and adolescents, with a special interest in irritability and reactive aggression. Dr. Evans worked with the World Health Organization in their revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) Chapter on Mental and Behavioural Disorders, particularly the classification of Disruptive Behaviour and Dissocial Disorders and severe irritability. During graduate school, he received specialized clinical training in evidence-based assessment and treatment in youth mental health, including completing a predoctoral clinical psychology internship at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Currently, Dr. Evans is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, where he works with Dr. John Weisz in the Laboratory for Youth Mental Health (YMH Lab). Here, he is involved in the development, evaluation, and dissemination of empirically supported treatments, especially transdiagnostic, personalized, and measurement-based approaches. Over the past year, he has served as a project director, trainer, clinical consultant, and statistical/methodological specialist on YMH Lab randomized controlled trials of a modular transdiagnostic psychotherapy program for children and adolescents with anxiety, depression, trauma, or conduct problems.

During his AIM Postdoctoral Fellowship, Dr. Evans will take a similarly transdiagnostic approach to advancing the assessment and treatment of severe irritability and mood dysregulation in young people. Using YMH Lab data, he will evaluate the effectiveness of existing assessment tools and treatment strategies for severe irritability. Additionally, he will explore novel approaches to personalized assessment (for example, real-time surveys, skin conductance, and physical activity) and treatment. He plans to use this work to develop an empirically based framework to guide clinicians’ assessment and treatment of severe irritability and mood dysregulation in children and adolescents.