Faculty Profile: Anthony Spirito, PHD, ABPP

Anthony Spirito
Anthony Spirito, PHD, ABPP
Professor of Psychiatry & Human Behavior
Psychiatry & Human Behavior
Work: +1 401-444-1929
Anthony Spirito's current research interests focus on developing and testing new treatments for adolescent substance use and adolescent depression/suicidal behavior.



Research Description

Dr. Spirito has been conducting research in adolescent suicidality and depression for 25 years. Most recently, he has focused his efforts on treatment. Working with a postdoctoral fellow, he published the first randomized trial of individual therapy with adolescents who attempt suicide. He also conducted an intervention trial designed to improve treatment attendance in this population. He was also site CBT supervisor for a large multisite study, "The Treatment of Resistant Depression in Adolescence". He is nearing completion of three treatment development studies to determine if new approaches will increase the efficacy of depression treatments for adolescents. The first trial examined whether concurrently treating the depressed parent of a depressed teen will improve outcomes for the adolescent. The second study examined whether the addition of an exercise component to a CBT protocol will improve depression outcomes in overweight adolescents treated with CBT. And the third trial is testing an integrated approach for treating conduct problems in depressed adolescents.

With respect to alcohol and substance use treatment research, he has used individual motivational interventions with adolescents who presented to the Emergency Department (ED) with an alcohol-related admission. In an extension of the original work, he broadened the scope of the brief intervention to include a parent motivational intervention. He recently completed a study using this parent motivational approach, the Family Check-Up, with families who have teenage siblings in which one has been identified after an alcohol-related incident. He recently completed a study using both an individual adolescent motivational interview and the Family Check-up to address marijuana, sexual risk behavior, and school attendance in high school students who are truant from school. He also recently completed two prevention studies: One that modified the Family Check-Up for a protocol designed to prevent the onset of substance use in middle schoolers receiving mental health treatment while the other tested an alcohol prevention program with middle schoolers being treated in the ED for an injury.

With respect to combined treatments for depression, suicidality, and alcohol/drug use, he collaborated on a study of an integrated CBT protocol for adolescents with alcohol use disorders, MDD, and suicidality. He is now transporting this integrated protocol to the community and testing whether the protocol is effective when delivered by licensed mental health counselors in a community mental health clinic. He is also conducting a larger RCT of the integrated protocol for use with high risk adolescents psychiatrically hospitalized due to depression as well as at a suicide attempt, nonsuicidal self injury, or substance abuse.

Grants and Awards

Outstanding Teaching Award in Clinical Psychology, Department of Psychiatry Brown Medical School, 1997-1998
Fellow, Society of Clinical Psychology Division 12, APA, 2001.
Fellow, Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, APA, 2001.
Research Mentor Award, Department of Psychiatry, Brown Medical School, 2001.
President, Society of Pediatric Psychology, 2002.
Fellow, Society of Pediatric Psychology, American Psychological Association, 2002.
Full Member (Fellow), International Academy for Suicide Research, 2003.
Martin P. Levin Mentorship Award, Society of Pediatric Psychology, 2005.
President, Section on Clinical Emergencies and Crises, Society of Clinical Psychology, American Psychological Association, 2009
President, Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, American Psychological Association , 2010
Faculty Mentor Award, Department of Psychiatry, Brown University,2010
Research Mentor Award, Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Brown University, 2010


American Psychological Association (APA)
Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, APA
Society of Pediatric Psychology, APA
Society of Clinical Psychology, APA
Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies
American Association of Suicidology
Research Society on Alcoholism

Funded Research


1 R01 AA-017659 A. Spirito, Ph.D/R. Rende, Ph.D. (MPI's) 8/1/08 – 12/31/13
Effects of the Family Check-Up on Adolescents with Alcohol-Related Events and Their Siblings
The purpose of this grant is to compare the efficacy of the Family Check-Up to a psychoeducational program (Family Matters) in terms of its effects on alcohol and other drug-use in adolescents by an alcohol-related event and their teenage siblings.

1 R34 MH083092 A. Spirito, Ph.D./E. Jelalian, Ph.D. (MPI's) 12/1/09 – 12/30/13
Integrated Treatment for Comorbid Depression and Obesity in Adolescents
The purpose of this grant is to combine treatments for depression and overweight to address these co-occurring conditions in one intervention. The long-term objectives of this research are to develop efficient and effective treatments for co-occurring physical and emotional disorders.

1 R34 DA0029871 A. Spirito PhD (PI) 7/1/10 - 12/31/13
Individual and Family Motivational Interviews for Substance Using Truant Teens
The purpose of this study is to determine the feasibility and acceptability of a combined individual motivational interview and the Family Check-up for the families of teens being seen in Truancy Court.

1 R34 MH090147 Yen (PI) Spirito (Co-I) 2/15/11-12/31/13
Coping Long Term with Attempted Suicide – Adolescents.
This treatment development award aims to pilot a multi-modal adjunctive intervention for suicidal adolescents. The intervention begins during the inpatient hospitalization and continues for six months post-discharge, the period of highest risk for re-attempts.

1R01AA020705-01A1 Spirito (PI) 4/20/12 – 03/31/17
Adolescents with Major Depression and AUD: Community-based Integrated Treatment
The purpose of this application is to conduct an RCT comparing integrated CBT- I for adolescents with MDD and AUD to standard care. Both the integrated CBT-I and SC condition will be delivered by licensed mental health counselors at a community mental health clinic that uses an Intensive Outpatient Program model.

1 R01 AA021900-01 A. Spirito, Ph.D/J. Linakas, M.D. (Multiple PI's) 9/1/12 – 8/31/17
Teen Alcohol Screening in the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network
The purpose of this grant is to validate the NIAAA two-question screen with 12-17 year olds in 15 U.S. pediatric emergency departments (PED), by determining the concurrent, convergent, discriminant, and predictive validity of the two-question screen regarding alcohol misuse.

1R01 MH 099703-01 A.Spirito/C. Esposito-Smythers (Mulitple PIs) 9/1/12 –08/31/16
Intensive Outpatient Risk Protocol with High Risk Suicidal Teens
The purpose of this application is to conduct a two group randomized controlled trial to test the primary aim that an intensive protocol designed to treat depressed, suicidal adolescents with an additional complicating risk factor will produce better treatment outcomes compared to standard care at the end of the active treatment (6 months), end of maintenance treatment (12 months) and at the final follow-up point (18 months).

Selected Publications

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