Student Spotlight Award Winner - Corinna Stewart

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Congratulations to Corinna Stewart on being selected as one of three Student Spotlight Award winners!

The purpose of this award is to highlight students who are doing important work in the CBS community whether for research, clinical, and/or volunteer-humanitarian efforts. This will be a way to highlight their achievements, let the ACBS community know important work students are doing, and possibly provide a platform for mentoring/collaboration/professional development/conversations around highlighted areas.

Learn more about Corinna:

Background of CBS Research/Clinical/Volunteering efforts/achievements:
I completed my Psychology degree at NUI Maynooth (NUIM), where I undertook modules in behaviourism and Relational Frame Theory (RFT). My final year research project used the Implicit Relational Assessment Procedure (IRAP) to investigate gender and self-esteem. After graduating, I worked as a Research Assistant in NUIM investigating smoking cessation using the IRAP. I then worked on an RCT of ACT for depression in psychosis in Glasgow University, where I became interested in paranoia and how a CBS approach might inform our understanding of and help normalize these experiences. I was awarded a scholarship to undertake a PhD on this topic at NUI Galway and recently publish a paper on a CBS approach to delusions in JCBS. My research utilizes the IRAP and other RFT-based methods to explore paranoia from a CBS perspective. I have presented this work at local and international conferences and submitted two of my studies for publication. I joined the ACBS Psychosis SIG taskforce and currently manage our social media. I have pursued my interest in global mental health and CBS in my role as research leader with commit and act, an NGO that provides psychotherapeutic support in Sierra Leone. We have published an evaluation of our ACT training workshops in JCBS and a chapter in the Palgrave Handbook of Global Mental Health. I have also presented our work at ACBS World and UK Chapter conferences. Recently, we were awarded an ACBS grant for our ‘DARE to connect’ program, which supports couples affected by domestic violence.
Three sentence summary of CBS research/clinical/volunteering efforts/achievements (for social media use if you win): I am a final year PhD student at NUI Galway, studying RFT and paranoia using the IRAP. I’m also the research team leader at commit and act – an international NGO that uses ACT, PROSOCIAL, and CBS principles to promote mental health and wellbeing in Sierra Leone. I have been a member of ACBS for over 8 years - I love the warmth, support and fun that this community brings to the science of alleviating suffering and promoting prosociality and vitality.

Links to any relevant publications you have participated in:
Stewart, C., Ebert, B., & Bockarie, B. (in press). commit and act in Sierra Leone (Book chapter). In R. White, U. Read, S. Jain, & D. Orr (Eds.). The Palgrave Handbook of Global Mental Health: Socio-cultural Perspectives. Palgrave Publishers Ltd. ISBN: 978-1-137-39510-8

Stewart, C., Stewart, I., & Hughes, S. (in press). A functional account of (persecutory) delusions. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcbs.2016.09.002

Stewart, C., White, R., Ebert, B., Mays, I., Nardozzi, J., & Bockarie, H. (2016). A preliminary evaluation of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy training in Sierra Leone. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science. DOI: 10.1016/j.jcbs.2016.01.001

Gumley, A., White, R. G., Briggs, A., Ford, I., Barry, S., Stewart, C., Beedie, S., Clarke, C., MacLeod, R., Lidstone, E., Nam, J., & McLeod, H. (2015). A Parallel group Randomised Open Blinded Evaluation of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Depression After Psychosis: A Pilot Trial Protocol (ADAPT). Psychosis: Psychological, Social and Integrative Approaches. DOI: 10.1080/17522439.2015.1100669

I’m from Derry in Northern Ireland. I first became interested in mental health when I studied A Level Psychology at secondary school. I went on to complete a BA in Psychology at NUI Maynooth, where I was first introduced to RFT and CBS. After my degree, I attended an ACT workshop at the ACBS World Conference in Enschede. These experiences had a profound effect on me – I found ACT to be personally transformative and empowering and CBS changed the way I see the world entirely. I am committed to studying and contributing to our understanding of how CBS principles can be used to alleviate suffering and promote wellbeing through my PhD work on paranoia and voluntary work with the ACBS Psychosis SIG and commit and act. These activities have also introduced me to some truly incredible people, who have become mentors and lifelong friends.

I also try to apply CBS to my everyday life. I often find myself saying things like “I wonder what the function of their behavior is?”, “Thank your mind for that”, and “Those transformation of stimulus functions can be pretty rough alright!” I find that having few friends gives me more time for my research and other hobbies! When I’m not "RFTing" (even though technically we are constantly RFTing or “AARRing” once we become verbal), you’ll find me baking and cooking for friends and family, in downward dog or savasana on my yoga mat, or walking along the Prom or beautiful hills of Connemara in Galway.

Future goals:
After my PhD, I plan to continue investigating paranoia from a CBS perspective working with researchers and clinicians from various backgrounds and perspectives. I will also continue working with commit and act to establish structures for research that will help us better understand local issues and improve our work.