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advancing the field of mental health in pittsburgh

The Center for Research

At the CBI Center for Research, we follow this mission statement:

Providing support and guidance to further clinical research and evidence-based practice.  The CBI Center for Research aims to increase research literacy and research practice through direct support and guidance. Working with both internal and external researchers, CBI provides a collaborative environment for conducting theoretical research, clinical application research, and program evaluation.  In addition, the Center for Research is dedicated to fostering innovation and working with communities at various levels (local, state, and national) to improve research outcomes.

Illustration of two brains working together

For Researchers

Are you a researcher? Are you interested in exploring collaborative research with CBI? Reach out to our director, Dr. Alexandra Varela by contacting our office at 724-609-5002 or  to discuss partnering with us.

What do we offer?

  • Collaborative research with skilled clinicians and researchers
  • Use of our Internal Review Board for ethical oversight
  • The possibility of access to our diverse client base

Current Projects

Clinician burnout Study

This research aims to explore the protective and contributing factors for those in the mental health field. This study hopes to broaden the scope to providers, administration, and interns' experiences with practice during the COVID-19 pandemic and provide a protocol for improvements based on these results. The survey takes between 5-10 minutes to complete and is anonymous and confidential.

Participate In This Study(opens in a new tab)(opens in a new tab)

Mental Fitness Study

CBI and Sonde Health are collaborating to explore the utility and effectiveness of Sonde's Mental Fitness app, which uses voice-enabled detection technology to monitor mental health symptoms. The app measures multiple aspects of the human voice to provide an overall score of the participant's current mental health status. The app also includes other features, including a journal, symptom tracking, and mental health tips relevant to the participant's scores. Current CBI clients are able to participate in this three-month study by using the Mental Fitness app regularly in conjunction with participating in their regular sessions as well as completing surveys at the beginning, middle, and end of the study. Participants will also receive a $25 gift card after completing each of the three rounds of surveys.

Participate In This Study(opens in a new tab)(opens in a new tab)

CBI Providers

Alexandra Varela headshot

Dr. Alexandra Varela, PhD, LPC, NCC

Licensed Professional Counselor

 Dr. Alexandra “Alex” Varela has pursued an interest in research over her academic and professional career. Dr. Varela has presented at national and state conferences. She has conducted her own independent research as well as collaborative research with colleagues during her doctoral studies, resulting in presentations and publication. Dr. Varela completed her dissertation utilizing mixed-methods analysis to study a new psychological construct developed by her as well as the assessment instrument she developed to measure this construct. Additionally, Dr. Varela has taught research courses and consulted with students and peers regarding their own research idea development - a process she very much enjoys. Most recently, Dr. Varela has developed and chaired the Institutional Review Board and developed Center for Research acting as Director at CBI.

Dr. Varela’s current research interests focus on personality development, burnout, identity development, and resiliency.  She believes that research literacy and conducting research are integral for best clinical practice and aims to assist CBI clinicians and external research collaborators in their pursuits.

Lindsey Breznik headshot

Dr. Lindsey Breznik, PhD

Child pyschologist

Dr. Lindsey Breznik earned her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of South Florida. Dr. Breznik’s past research experience has focused on three primary areas: therapeutic alliance with children and adolescents, parental help-seeking for child psychopathology, and implementation of suicide prevention programming. She has taken on a number of roles within these projects, including grant writing, development of measures, literature review, recruitment of participants, administering trainings, running focus groups, analyzing data, and presenting research findings at local and national conferences.

Dr. Breznik is interested in continuing her research efforts investigating evidence-based process factors in therapy with children, parental help-seeking, and program evaluation. Her greatest strengths are planning, writing, and editing. She enjoys the challenge of thinking “big picture” by drawing connections among research findings and implications. Dr. Breznik is eager to use these skills to help CBI peers with their research endeavors

Zia Cook-Andres headshot

Dr. Caleb P. Thompson, PhD, LPC, NCC

Licensed professional counselor

Dr. Caleb P. Thompson earned his doctoral degree in Executive Counselor Education & Supervision from Duquesne University and has a research background primarily focused on quantitative methodologies with a specific interest in mediation/moderation models using multivariate statistical analyses. Dr. Thompson has held faculty positions in counselor education since 2014, taught graduate statistics, and thoroughly enjoys thinking about and applying quantitative approaches toward robust and meaningful understandings of human behavior. He also maintains the stance that research can and, let's be honest, really must be made practical, engaging, and fun!

Primary research topics and interests include the following: Mindfulness Meditation; Systems Thinking; Differentiation of Self; Therapeutic Alliance; Clinical Supervision; Burnout.

Alysse Littleberry headshot

Alysse Littleberry, LSW

Licensed social worker

Alysse has nearly a decade of research and evaluation experience that includes Certificates in Statistics and Health Program Evaluation. In addition to formal training, Alysse has practical experience through work and volunteering. In the past, Alysse has worked with teams studying sleep patterns in Seasonal Affective Disorder, brain changes in puberty, homelessness recidivism, physical activity breaks in the classroom, continuing education programs, community health needs assessments, program inclusivity, burnout among social service workers, organizational culture, and has conducted numerous literature reviews on additional topics. Alysse is interested in building on her past research experience through mixed-methods research and evaluation, implementation research, and systematic reviews. She is also interested in understanding the intersection between physical and mental health and improving understanding of evidence-based practice in mental health.