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Dr. Cristina S. Schmalisch, LICSW


Cristina Sorrentino Schmalisch received her PhD in cognitive science from MIT in 1998 and worked as a research scientist for 4 years at New York University and Stanford University. Her research explored how children think about and name individuals and how they understand number. Over the years of working as a researcher, she found that she enjoyed interacting with children and their parents more than engaging in the nuts and bolts of doing research. She decided to pursue training as a psychotherapist and resonated to a set of ideas about mental health, such as considering the whole person and not just their disorder, and considering the person within a greater context, that includes the spiritual. Social work provided the breadth and depth Cristina sought and so she enrolled in the MSW program at Boston University and graduated in 2005.

During her studies, Cristina interned at the Cambridge Court Clinic and worked with adolescents and their families, providing assessment to the juvenile court and group treatment to court-involved adolescent girls. She later interned at the Danielsen Institute where she received intensive training in psychodynamic treatment with adults and first learned to incorporate the spiritual into psychotherapy.

Cristina held the position of Project Director of the Compulsive Hoarding Project at the BU School of Social Work upon for two and a half years. Her supervisor was Dean Gail Steketee, an international expert on obsessive compulsive disorder and hoarding. Cristina received intensive training in assessment of mental health disorders and in cognitive and behavioral therapy. She provided individual and group treatment for hoarding to adult clients. She also oversaw all aspects of two research studies on compulsive hoarding and its treatment, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. While at BU, Cristina taught research methods to MSW students, gave talks about compulsive hoarding in the community, and trained therapists in cognitive behavioral treatment for hoarding. She has published an article on group treatment for hoarding in Cognitive and Behavioral Practice with Drs. Christiana Bratiotis and Jordana Muroff. She also co-authored, The Hoarding Handbook: A Guide for Human Service Professionals, with Dr. Bratiotis and Dean Steketee, published by Oxford University Press.

In addition to expertise in hoarding, Cristina has in-depth training in understanding and treating trauma, including training with Dr. Dan Hughes on attachment-focused therapy. Cristina also has experience treating addictions, having worked as a full-time clinician in addictions at North Suffolk Mental Health Association from January 2008 until August 2009. During that time, she provided both individual and group treatment to clients aged 18-60.

See publications by Cristina S. Schmalisch