Featured Member - ERIN CASSIDY-EAGLE PhD, DBSM

WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THE FIELD IN 10 YEARS?

I am very excited to be on the Board of Behavioral Sleep Medicine and feel that this newly launched diplomate in behavioral sleep medicine (DBSM) represents the future of BSM. It exemplifies our desire to further establish our recognized level of competence, our commitment to continued learning and our ability to attract others to this field that we know and love. I am looking forward to supporting this effort in support of strategic directions identified by the SBSM. It would be wonderful to continue to expand the pool of DBSM clinicians who will undoubtedly play leadership roles in sleep and academic centers nationally to advance the Field of BSM.

HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO SPECIALIZE IN BEHAVIORAL SLEEP MEDICINE (WHAT GOT YOU STARTED, WHO DID YOU DECIDE TO WORK WITH ALONG THE WAY)?

My career began with a degree in Clinical Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. I specialized in working with older adults. After spending more than a decade engaged in research and clinical endeavors around anxiety, depression and cognitive disorders, I noticed that sleep appeared to be one of the truly transdiagnostic symptoms that greatly impacted one’s quality of life. If sleep was a part of all of these treatments, would improving sleep lead to a more global impact if it was treated as primary? I was specifically interested in finding ways to improve the lives of older adults experiencing the early stages of cognitive decline in an effort to create some hope that the trajectory could be slowed down or even relieved a bit with the targeting of sleep. I quickly learned that a mastery of CBT for other conditions does not a CBT-I expert make. Thus began my journey into the BSM world as I sought to understand how to apply CBT-I to older adults in various community and residential settings.

WHO GOES ON YOUR BSM MOUNT RUSHMORE?

There are so many “greats” in the BSM field, but I am choosing to think of this question very personally. When I initially got excited to re-specialize in the field of sleep medicine, I decided to just cold-call the BSM experts at the integrated sleep center at Stanford University. Rachel Manber, PhD and Allison Siebern, Ph.D. responded quickly and positively, inviting me to come and join their team to get immersed in learning the ins and outs of BSM. Trainees at the time (though now fully developed Sleep Rockstars in their own right), Sara Nowakowski, PhD, and Norah Simpson, PhD, welcomed me into their ongoing treatment sessions that highlighted best practices in clinical care of those with insomnia. I was even fortunate enough to participate in a groups run my Drs. Manber and Siebern that gave me a soup to nuts view of an effective treatment protocol. Since that time, more than 10 years ago, I have continued to be impressed by the warm and welcoming nature of the BSM researchers and practitioners.

WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO EARLY CAREER INDIVIDUALS, OR THOSE RE-SPECIALIZING INTO BEHAVIORAL SLEEP MEDICINE?

Don’t be afraid to reach out to any of the established BSM experts! I haven’t met a mean one yet and most will go out of their way to give you some great advice and support around getting more involved in the field and suggesting ways to add to your skillset. Also, getting a broad knowledge base in sleep medicine, including all the disorders treated, is crucial in becoming an effective practitioner- even if you are ultimately only interested in conducting CBT-I.

WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP THAT YOU PLAN ON TAKING EITHER IN YOUR RESEARCH OR CLINCIAL PRACTICE?

Clinically, I am hoping to be able to offer an ongoing sleep treatment group to those 65+. I do lots of individual sleep treatment, but would like to find more ways to reach a greater number of folks in the community. In my research endeavors, I am currently collaborating with Dr. Hongtu Chen and his team at EHG and Harvard Medical School on an SBIR focused on the creation of an app to improve the sleep health of older adults with and without comorbid mild cognitive impairment. Finally, I hope to also find other paths to further my study of the interplay between cognitive functioning and sleep- through both intervention based studies and those that focus on specific biomarkers.

WHAT IS YOUR NEXT VACATION OR DREAM VACATION?

I really love being anywhere with an ocean view. Living in Santa Cruz, California affords me the opportunity to do this on many days, but I love being in water above 52 degrees as well!

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE THINGS TO DO AWAY FROM THE OFFICE?

I am fortunate to have a family that I adore spending time with. They help me forget about the stressors that sometimes pop into the day. My husband, John, and 13 year-old twin girls Ava and Ellen (along with two cats and two dogs), mean that I always get to come home to a solid mix of chaos and fun. I am quite lucky!