Our research team primarily studies anxiety disorders, although other areas of clinical research are also conducted. The lab usually consists of around 5 to 6 graduate students and 4 to 5 undergraduate students, although that number varies from year to year. Our lab is a prolific research team. Each semester several research projects are being conducted, many of these resulting in conference presentations and manuscripts. To see a list of select publications, please visit the publications section of this website. To see a list of conference presentations, please visit the conference presentation section of this website.
Dr. Valentiner, what are your research interests?
My research examines cognitive and emotional factors related to anxiety, anxiety disorders, and change in anxiety during treatment, addressing questions such as: what are the mechanisms of change in effective therapies for anxiety disorders?; what are the implications of these mechanisms for how we understand the psychopathology, including etiology and maintenance?; and how can treatment and prevention be improved based on what we learn about mechanisms of change?
Information processing theory provides an important foundation for my understanding the process of change during exposure therapy for anxiety conditions. Using this foundation, my past research has examined the process of fear reduction during exposure and cognitive, emotional, and behavioral factors that are involved in the maintenance of anxiety disorders. The goal of this research is to better understand pathological fear and anxiety, and the mechanisms by which pathological fear and anxiety decrease over time and during treatment.
An important program of research in my lab involves the development of an early intervention for social anxiety. My clinical research team is currently implementing an intervention for incoming college freshmen at NIU, and developing an intervention for social anxiety in high school and middle school students. The goal of this line of research is to develop and disseminate effective and usable treatments during the early course of social anxiety disorder, and to better understand the psychological, interpersonal and academic consequences of social anxiety during the early course of the disorder.
My graduate students are working on projects related to how social anxiety effects the interpretation of positive social events; the role of safety behaviors in social anxiety; identity and self-injury behavior; distinct etiological pathways in hypochondriasis; the application of terror management theory to obsessive compulsive disorder; test anxiety; and other topics. One area of research that I need help with is the implementation of an early intervention program for socially anxious students as they make the transition to a new educational institution (such as from middle school to high school, and high school to college). I am also doing some work related to test anxiety, and doing some reading and writing about brain areas (e.g., the anterior cingulate cortext) and cognitive factors (e.g., error detection and rumination) in the etiology and maintenance of post-traumatic stress disorder, and other anxiety conditions. I am also interested in other topics, including racism and antiracism, and pseudoscience and parapsychology.