Cassandra Vieten, Ph.D.
I am a clinical psychologist and researcher specializing in the areas of addictions, emotion regulation, and mind-body approaches to physical and psychological well-being. My recent research has focused on developing of a measure of impairments in the ability to regulate negative emotions, and identifying which of those impairments is related to development of and recovery from alcoholism and other addictions. Preliminary results suggest that alcoholics have difficulty tolerating negative affect, tend to somaticize their negative emotion, and show impairments in cognitive processing of emotion when compared to non-alcoholics. Similarly, empirical evidence that acquisition of affect regulation skills is involved in successful cessation of addictive behaviors is accumulating. Our studies show that recovering alcoholics continue to show deficiencies in affect tolerance and cognitive processing of emotion, but over time the ability to improvement or acquisition of these capacities differentiates those who are able to recover from those who relapse. Based on this research, my current focus, along with my colleague John Astin, is on developing and testing complementary mindfulness-based approaches that address the impairments in affect regulation that my and others' research have identified as key factors in relapse.
Our group is also studying whether participating in mindfulness training during pregnancy can reduce stress, improve mood, and enhance mother-infant attachment both during pregnancy and postpartum. Stress and negative mood during pregnancy and postpartum has been associated with a wide variety of adverse outcomes including preterm birth, low birth weight, childbirth complications, and increased risk for postpartum mood disorder. Maternal stress, depression, and anxiety also may interfere with healthy fetal and child development, and secure mom-baby attachment. Training in mindfulness has shown promise for reducing stress, improving mood, and even enhancing immunity and brain activity associated with a positive outlook on life. Our pilot studies have shown that pregnant women attending the training had reduced stress and negative mood in comparison to women who did not attend the training.
In addition, I collaborate with other researchers at CPMCRI who are studying effects of complementary interventions and mind-body factors in health and healing from behavioral and medical disorders. I have a strong interest in how body, mind, and spirit interact to impact physiological and psychological wellbeing.
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New Study for pregnant women to reduce stress
Being pregnant is a wonderful time for most women, but it can also be very stressful. That stress can lead to over eating and putting on too much weight. In fact, it's estimated that 60 percent of women put on more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy, putting them at increased risk of serious complications from gestational diabetes to premature birth. That's why the CPMC Research Institute is launching a new study that will try to help pregnant women reduce stress, eat a healthy and balanced diet, and find easy ways to stay more active. Researcher Cassie Vieten, PhD, is leading the study.
See Dr. Vieten talk about her new study in Facebook that will try to help pregnant women reduce stress, eat a healthy and balanced diet, and find easy ways to stay more active.
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- Gizer, I.R., Ehlers, C.L., Vieten, C., Seaton-Smith, K.L., Feiler, H.S.,Lee, J.V., Segall, S.K., Gilder, D.A., & Wilhelmsen, K.C. (2011). Linkage Scan of Alcohol Dependence in the UCSF Family Alcoholism Study. Drug and Alcohol Dependence,113: 2-3, pp.125-132. PMCID: PMC3008755.
- Gizer, I.R., Ehlers, C.L., Vieten, C., Seaton-Smith, K.L., Feiler, H.S., Lee, J.V., Segall, S.K., Gilder, D.A., & Wilhelmsen, K.C. (2011). Linkage scan of nicotine dependence in the UCSF Family Alcoholism Study. Psychological Medicine, 41(4):799-808. PMCID: PMC3045476.
- Schlitz, M.M., Vieten, C. & Miller, E.M. (2010). Worldview transformation and the development of social consciousness. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 17:7-8, pp. 18-36.
- Ehlers, C.L., Gizer, I.R, Vieten, C., Gilder, D.A., Stouffer, G.M., Lau, P. & Wilhelmsen, K.C. (2010). Cannabis dependence in the San Francisco Family Study: Age of onset of use, DSM-IV symptoms, withdrawal, and heritability. Addictive Behaviors, 35:2, pp. 102-110. PMCID: PMC2805269
- Vieten C., Astin J., Buscemi R., Galloway G. (2010). Development of an acceptance-based coping intervention for alcohol dependence relapse prevention. Substance Abuse, 31:2, pp. 108-116. PMID: 20408062
- Ehlers, C.L., Gizer I.R., Vieten C., Gilder A., Gilder D.A., Stouffer G.M., Lau P., & Wilhelmsen K.C. (2010). Age at regular drinking, clinical course, and heritability of alcohol dependence in the San Francisco family study: A gender analysis. The American Journal on Addictions, 19:2, pp. 101-110. PMCID: PMC2835733
- Gizer, I.R., Seaton-Smith, K.L., Ehlers, C.L., Vieten, C., & Wilhelmsen, K.C. (2010). Heritability of MMPI-2 scales in the UCSF Family Alcoholism Study. Journal of Addictive Diseases, 29:1, pp. 84-97. PMCID: PMC2856115
- Ehlers, C. L., Gizer, I. R., Vieten, C. &Wilhelmsen, K. C. (2010). Linkage analyses of cannabis dependence, craving, and withdrawal in the San Francisco family study. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics, 153B: 802–811. PMCID: PMC2940710
- Ehlers CL, Gizer IR, Vieten C, Gilder DA, Stouffer GM, Lau P, & Wilhelmsen, K. C. (2009). Cannabis dependence in the San Francisco Family Study: age of onset of use, DSM-IV symptoms, withdrawal, and heritability. Addictive Behaviors. 35:2:102-10. PMCID: PMC2805269
- Vieten C., Astin J. (2008). Effects of a mindfulness-based intervention during pregnancy on prenatal stress and mood: Results of a pilot study. Archives of Women’s Mental Health, 11:1, 67-74. PMID: 18317710
- Carmody T., Vieten C., Astin J. (2008). Affect regulation, emotional acceptance, and nicotine dependence. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 39:4, 499-508. PMID:18303707
- Vieten C., Amorok T., Schlitz M. (2006). I to we: The role of consciousness transformation in compassion and altruism. Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, 41:4, 917-933.
- Vieten C, (2004). The role of transformation and spirit on human brain activity and immunity. San Francisco Medicine: Journal of the San Francisco Medical Society, 77:7, 28-31.
- Vieten C., Seaton K.L., Feiler H.S. & Wilhelmsen K. (2004). The UCSF family alcoholism study: I. Design, methods, and demographics. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 28:10, 1509-1516.PMID: 15597083
- Seaton K., Cornell J., Wilhelmsen K., Vieten C. (2004) Effective strategies for recruiting families ascertained through alcoholic probands. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 28:1, 78-84. PMID: 14745304
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