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SEPI Dissertation Award

Graduate students who are:

  • SEPI student members
  • Not members of the SEPI research committee and 
  • Have had a dissertation proposal approved by their university, but have not yet completed the project at the time of submission

are eligible. The topic of the dissertation must be related to psychotherapy integration—the integration of different theoretical orientations and/or the integration of research and practice. This $1,000 monetary award can be used for any purpose related to the dissertation, such as materials, instruction, or conference participation. Doctoral students can nominate themselves or can be nominated by any SEPI member. Awardees will summarize their work at a SEPI conference once the dissertation is complete.

The 2018 winner of the dissertation award is Samantha L. Bernecker, Ph.D. Samantha is currently a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst doctoral program (mentor and nominator, Michael Constantino), and is a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard University. Her dissertation title is “Testing a skills training course for use in a peer-delivered mental health intervention” and focuses on the development and initial testing of a novel common factors intervention aimed at expanding the reach of  mental health intervention through peer counseling. Samantha independently devised a project to develop and test a novel intervention aimed at improving mental health, which she has termed “crowdsourcing mental health” (CMH). This included an online course that she developed for teaching members of a dyad how to “deliver” empirically supported integrative mental health interventions to each other in a peer-counseling program. Notably, Samantha received a prestigious pre-doctoral dissertation fellowship, from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support this innovative work. Sam has been remarkably impressive and productive for someone at such an early stage in one’s career, and she has an extraordinary grasp of the psychotherapy literature. We have no doubt that she will continue to make a substantial impact on psychotherapy integration.

SEPI’s Research Committee will choose recipients for both awards. Awardees will receive their awards at the annual SEPI Conference (2021).

The deadline for submissions is March 2, 2020.

Electronic submissions are required.  Please include the following in your submission:

  1. Nomination form [download here
  2. A copy of the nominee’s curriculum vitae
  3. For the dissertation award, a copy of the dissertation proposal.  For the new researcher award, a copy of an in press or published empirical paper.
  4. At least one letter of recommendation, preferably from a SEPI member


Submit to

Dr. Ioana Podina

Previous Winners:



Henry Xiao


The 2019 winner of the dissertation award is Henry Xiao, M.S. Henry is currently a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University clinical psychology doctoral program (mentor and nominator, Louis G. Castonguay, Ph.D.), and is completing his internship at the Counseling and Psychological Services of Penn State, where he was also accepted for a post-doctoral position. His dissertation title is “Re-Evaluating Dropout: Exploring Definitions and Therapist Effects” and focuses on the impacts of operationalization of dropout on research findings. Using national data from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health practice research network, Henry independently devised a project to build upon and expand existing literature on dropout from therapy by empirically examining the differential rates of dropout using three distinct definitions of dropout researched within the field. Additionally, he examined the level of therapist effects between definitions to thoroughly compare and contrast these definitions. Henry has demonstrated extraordinary collaborative spirit and we have no doubt that he will continue to make a substantial impact on psychotherapy integration.



Orrin-Porter Morrison


Currently completing his Clinical Psychology Ph.D. at the University of Windsor.








Samantha BERNECKER | M.S., Psychology | University of ...


Samantha L. Bernecker, Ph.D.


Graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst doctoral program and is a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard University.








Adi AVIRAM | Ph.D. candidate, York University, Canada 

Adi Aviram


Ph.D. candidate, York University, Canada








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