Sara O?Brien

Sara O’Brien

  • Associate Professor of Psychology, Psychological Science Department
    Email Address:
    Office location:
    LH 207

    Professor Sara OBrien earned her B.A. in psychology and Spanish from Miami University (Ohio). She then spent two years working in the Early Intervention Program in Illinois, serving families with children with developmental delays. This work solidified her interest in clinical psychology, and she returned to school, earning her M.A. in clinical psychology from the University of Iowa and her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Notre Dame. Prior to joining the faculty at Carthage, she was an associate professor of psychology at Knox College.

    Prof. OBrien runs the Classification and Assessment of Psychopathology Symptoms (CAPS) Lab, and her program of research examines issues related to diagnostic classification, transdiagnostic risk factors, and assessment, with a focus on anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders. She and her students have presented at local and national conferences and published in a number of journals, including Assessment, Journal of Affective Disorders, and Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders.

    As a clinical psychologist, Prof. OBrien has worked in various treatment settings, including private practice, community mental health, couples therapy, and a veterans affairs hospital. She has taught courses in psychopathology, assessment, psychotherapy, and fieldwork, as well as introductory psychology.

    When not at work, she enjoys running, baking, reading, and spending time with her family.

    Personal webpage:

    • Ph. D. –– Clinical Psychology, University of Notre Dame
    • M. A. –– Clinical Psychology, University of Iowa
    • B. A. –– Psychology and Spanish, Miami University
    • PYC 1500 Introduction to Psychological Science
    • PYC 3500 Abnormal Psychology
    • PYC 3650 Childhood Psychopathology
    • PYC 4700 Fieldwork in Psychological Science
    • PYC 4800 Thesis in Psychological Science

    “My research program focuses on psychological assessment and improving the conceptualization and classification of psychopathology symptoms. My assessment work has been collaborative and centered on increasing the clinical utility of measurement instruments through developing cutoff scores and severity ranges and examining their properties in a range of samples in the US and cross-culturally.

    My work also critically examines obsessive-compulsive disorder’s (OCD) recent reclassification as an “Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorder” (OCRD) through quantitative structural modeling, and my students and I have collected data on potential transdiagnostic risk factors to explain why it has been difficult to classify OCD as either an anxiety disorder or an OCRD. Reflective of my dedication to the integration of science and practice, I have experience with both applied clinical research in social and community settings as well as basic research focusing on the structure of psychopathology and underlying mechanisms and correlates of symptoms and traits.

    My work is built on a solid foundation in assessment and measurement, encompassing quantitative modeling, clinical interviewing, and longitudinal assessment and prediction.”

    Personal website:

    See CV for full publication list.

    * denotes undergraduate student author

    • Rosa Cáceres, A. M., Sayans-Jiménez, P., Stasik-O’Brien, S., Sánchez García, M., Fernández Calderón, F., & Díaz Batanero, M. C. (2022). Examining the relationships between emotional disorder symptoms in a mixed sample of community adults and patients: A network analysis perspective. Current Psychology. Advance online publication.
    • Khoo, S., Stasik-O’Brien, S. M., Ellickson-Larew, S., Stanton, K., Clark, L. A., & Watson, D. (in press). Examining the predictive validity of consensual and unique facets within the comprehensive facet structure. Assessment.
    • Perez, G. R., Stasik-O’Brien, S. M., & Brock, R. L. (in press). Investigating the role of intimate partner violence in the mental health of couples during pregnancy: Applying a hierarchical model of internalizing disorders. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(3), 1662.
    • Cooper, S. E., Hunt, C., Stasik-O’Brien, S. M., Berg, H., Lissek, S., Watson, D., & Krueger, R. F. (2022). The placement of obsessive-compulsive symptoms within a five-factor model of maladaptive personality. Assessment. Advance online publication.
    • Robinson, A., Stasik-O’Brien, S. M., Schneider, J.,* & Calamia, M. (2022). Examination of the relationship between dimensions of perfectionism, incompleteness, and harm avoidance in college students. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy. Advance online publication.
    • Stasik-O’Brien, S. M., Schneider, J.*, Rahman, N.*, & Schmidt, J. P.* (2021). The transdiagnostic nature of disgust propensity: An examination of its associations with anxiety and obsessive compulsive-related disorder symptoms. Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders, 30. Online First Publication.
    • Bruce, M.*, Stasik-O’Brien, S. M., & Hoffmann, H. (2021). The PTSD symptomology, trauma centrality profile, and physiological reactions of students using trigger warnings. Current Psychology. Online First Publication.
    • Sanchez-Garcia, M., De la Rosa-Cáceres, A., Stasik-O’Brien, S. M., Mancheño-Barba, J., Lozano, O., & Díaz-Batanero, C. (2021). National norms according to age and gender for the Spanish version of the Inventory of Depression and Anxiety Symptoms (IDAS-II). Frontiers in Psychology, section Quantitative Psychology and Measurement.
    • Levin-Aspenson, H. F., Watson, D., Ellickson-Larew, S., Stanton, K., & Stasik-O’Brien, S. M. (2021). Beyond distress and fear: Differential symptom and trait correlates of PTSD criteria clusters. Journal of Affective Disorders, 284, 9-17.
    • Robinson, A., Stasik-O’Brien, S. M., & Calamia, M. (2020). Towards a more perfect conceptualization of perfectionism: An exploratory factor analysis in undergraduate college students. Assessment. Online First Publication.
    • Stasik-O’Brien, S. M., Brock, R. L., Chmielewski, M., Naragon-Gainey, K., Koffel, E., McDade-Montez, E., O’Hara, M.W., & Watson, D. (2019). Clinical utility of the Inventory of Depression and Anxiety Symptoms (IDAS). Assessment, 26, 944-960.
    • Stasik-O’Brien, S. M., McCabe-Beane, J. E., & Segre, L. S. (2019). Using the EPDS to identify anxiety in mothers of infants on the neonatal intensive care unit. Clinical Nursing Research, 28, 473-487.