hero image
Monnica  Williams, Ph.D. - University of Connecticut. Storrs, CT, US

Monnica Williams, Ph.D. Monnica  Williams, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Psychological Sciences | University of Connecticut

Storrs, CT, UNITED STATES

Dr. Williams is a board-certified, licensed clinical psychologist, specializing in cognitive-behavioral therapies.

Biography

Monnica Williams, Ph.D. is a board-certified, licensed clinical psychologist, specializing in cognitive-behavioral therapies. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Connecticut, and Director of the Laboratory for Culture and Mental Health Disparities. She is also the Clinical Director of the Behavioral Wellness Clinic, LLC, in Louisville, Kentucky and Chadd's Ford, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Williams completed her undergraduate studies at MIT (biotechnology) and UCLA (psychology). She received her Master's and Doctoral Degrees in clinical psychology from the University of Virginia, where she conducted research in the areas of mental illness, tests and measurement, and ethnic differences. She completed her clinical internship at McGill University Health Centre, Montreal General Hospital Site, where she completed rotations in mood disorders, sexual disorders, and emergency psychiatric medicine. Prior to her move to Connecticut, Dr. Williams was an Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry for four years, where she worked with Dr. Edna Foa, an international authority on OCD and PTSD. She was also Director of the Center for Mental Health Disparities at the University of Louisville.

Dr. Williams sometimes contributes as a media expert. On television she has appeared on PBS, CTV, numerous newscasts, and talk shows. She has appeared on several radio shows, including NPR, and had been featured in newspaper and magazine articles, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, Fortune, and The Huffington Post. She has written for the New York Times, and Slate, and maintains a blog on Psychology Today called Culturally Speaking.

Areas of Expertise (6)

OCD Racial Trauma Cognitive-behavioral Therapies Psychology Mental health costs of racism Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Education (4)

University of Virginia: Ph.D., Clinical Psychology 2007

University of Virginia: M.A., Clinical Psychology 2003

University of California: Post-Baccalaureate Studies, Psychology 2000

Massachusetts Institute of Technology: B.S., Electrical Engineering (biomed tech) 1992

Affiliations (5)

  • International OCD Foundation (Scientific Advisory Board)
  • Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (Special Interest Group Leader)
  • Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA)
  • American Psychological Association
  • Connecticut Psychological Association

Social

Media Appearances (5)

Why I Don't Want to Be a Black Activist

Vice  online

2017-04-27

t was a glorious tweet back in 2016. Not in what it implied, but in the lack of empathy it exposed from responders thereafter.

"Plz Allah give me the strength not to cuss/kill these men and white folks out here today. Plz plz plz," read the 101-character tweet by Black Lives Matter Toronto co-founder, Yusra Khogali.

In a Toronto Star column, Khogali admitted to being angry by the endless comments from white men questioning the existence of racism, misogyny, and Islamophobia during Black History Month when she sent off that tweet. But what amounted to a few seconds of frustration for Khogali turned into days and months of ridicule...

Clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Connecticut, Dr. Monnica Williams terms it plainly as "the last straw."

"Eventually these things are going to take a toll on a person internally, which includes ailments, but also moments of exploding anger. Some may even cause violence, harm and ultimately take it out on other people," she told me in an interview.

According to Dr. Williams, there's been research showing the connection between low level discrimination, PTSD and physical ailments.

view more

Call The United Incident What It Is: Police Violence

Huffington Post  online

2017-04-11

The scene is chilling, in part because Dao appears to not have received medical attention, said Monnica T. Williams, a clinical psychologist and associate professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut who has studied the effects of police brutality.

“I can’t imagine seeing a white woman treated in this way, just left to bleed with possibly some sort of severe head injury,” she said.

view more

A History of Self-Care

Slate  online

2017-04-01

Monnica Williams, an associate professor in psychological sciences at the University of Connecticut and clinical director for the Behavioral Wellness Clinics in Kentucky, told me that she sees this kind of struggle all the time among women of color. “It’s kind of frowned on to think about self-care; people think it’s kind of selfish,” she said. But this lack of attention to one’s own stress levels and diet and fitness can lead to medical issues down the road: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity. Williams has also noticed a recent shift within the medical field toward taking self-care more seriously, with doctors doing more to combat “John Henry–ism—the idea that you face problems by working harder and harder” and not taking time out for yourself.

view more

PTSD #412

Science for the People  radio

2017-03-10

This week on Science for the People, we’re talking about our changing understanding of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and how we define the trauma that can trigger it. We speak with Alexei Morozov, an Assistant Professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, about his work studying the social signals of distress in mouse models, and about how animal models are helping us better understand PTSD in humans. And we talk with Dr. Monnica Williams, Associate Professor at the University of Connecticut and licensed psychologist, about our changing understanding of what trauma is and how it can be caused.

view more

Here's What Therapists Want You To Know About Being Politically Active

BuzzFeed  online

2017-02-16

That might mean going to protests, rallies, and marches, getting involved in local efforts, spending a lot of time on the phone with your representatives, or even just staying up on the constant onslaught of news developments. With SO MUCH going on, it's easy to get burnt out.
The truth is, though, you're at your most helpful and effective when you know your limits. So, to help you maintain your mental health while being politically active, BuzzFeed Health talked to the following experts:
* Kameelah Rashad, Philadelphia-based mental health professional and founder of Muslim Wellness Foundation
* Monnica Williams, PhD, clinical psychologist and director of the Laboratory for Culture and Mental Health Disparities
* Andrea Bonior, PhD, clinical psychologist and author of Psychology: Essential Thinkers, Classic Theories, and How They Inform Your World
Here's what they want you to keep in mind.

view more

Articles (6)

Missed diagnoses in African Americans with obsessive-compulsive disorder: the structured clinical interview for DSM-IV Axis I disorders (SCID-I) BMC Psychiatry

Gregory S Chasson, Monnica T Williams, Darlene M Davis, Jessica Y Combs

2017

Background
Research on the utility of structured interviews in assessing OCD is scarce, and even more so, in its use for OCD in African Americans. The purpose of this study was to examine the utility of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders (SCID-I) in detecting OCD in African Americans when used by well-trained, culturally competent clinicians.

Methods
Seventy-four African American adults with OCD were assessed with the SCID-I and additional measures of OCD.

Results
Results revealed the poor diagnostic utility of the SCID OCD section (SCID-OCD), with 66.2% (N = 49) correctly identified and 33.8% (N = 25) incorrectly diagnosed. Participants receiving the correct diagnosis were more likely to endorse compulsive behaviors, specifically ordering compulsions, and experience greater symptom severity.

Conclusion
The lack of sensitivity for identification of OCD is discussed as the SCID-OCD seems to often miss a true diagnosis of OCD in African Americans.

view more

A preliminary report on the relationship between microaggressions against Blacks and racism among White college students. Race and Social Problems Race and Social Problems

Kanter, J. W., Williams, M. T., Kuczynski, A. M., Manbeck, K., Debreaux, M., & Rosen, D

Previous efforts to understand microaggressions have surveyed stigmatized group members’ experiences of receiving microaggressions. This report presents the first attempt to measure self-reported likelihood of delivering microaggressions rather than receiving microaggressions and to explore the association between the likelihood of delivering microaggressions and racial prejudice. We conducted a cross-sectional survey of 33 black and 118 non-Hispanic white undergraduate students at a large public Southern/Midwest university. Black students reported the degree to which a series of statements would be experienced as microaggressive. White students reported their likelihood of delivering those statements and completed measures of racial prejudice. White students’ self-reported likelihood of engaging in microaggressive acts was significantly related to all measures of racial prejudice. The single item “A lot of minorities are too sensitive” was the strongest predictor of negative feelings toward black people. Results offer preliminary support that the delivery of microaggressions by white students is not simply innocuous behavior and may be indicative of broad, complex, and negative racial attitudes and explicit underlying hostility and negative feelings toward black students.

view more

Symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Among African Americans Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders

Monnica T Williams, Robert Joseph Taylor, Joseph A Himle, Linda M Chatters

2017

This study examined the correlates of the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) among a nationally-representative sample of African American adults (n = 3570). Demographic and several self-rated health variables were examined. Although only 1.6% of the sample met DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for OCD, a sizeable proportion of the sample reported compulsions (12.5%) and obsessions (15.3%). Material hardship was positively associated with nearly all measured symptoms of OCD and fewer years of educational attainment was related to greater compulsive symptoms. Self-rated mental health was related to both compulsions and obsessions, and self-rated physical health was associated with counting and repeating compulsions. Implications and areas for further research with African Americans are discussed, including improving access to care for those most in need of services.

view more

Association splitting of the sexual orientation-OCD-relevant semantic network Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

Terence HW Ching, Monnica T Williams

2017

There is little research on treating symptoms of sexual orientation-obsessive-compulsive disorder (SO-OCD). Semantic networks represent a new cognitive approach for understanding cognitive mechanisms of SO-OCD. Specifically, we tested whether the self-help cognitive technique of association splitting (AS) developed from this approach would be efficacious in reducing SO-OCD symptoms and thought suppression. One hundred and twenty heterosexual undergraduates (82 females, 38 males) were randomly assigned to either the AS or waitlist control group. At baseline and four weeks later, participants completed items assessing SO-OCD symptoms, measures of sexual obsessions and thought suppression, and an association task in which they generated associations to different cue words. Generated associations were coded based on SO-OCD relevance and emotional valence. Results indicated reductions in SO-OCD-relevant associations across levels of emotional valence and SO-OCD-irrelevant negative associations, and increases in SO-OCD-irrelevant positive and neutral associations, only in the AS group. Furthermore, there were reductions in SO-OCD symptoms, sexual obsessions, and thought suppression only in the AS group. Importantly, these findings were obtained with overall large effect sizes. AS appears to be an efficacious self-help technique in reducing SO-OCD symptoms, sexual obsessions, and thought suppression. Clinical implications, limitations, and suggestions for future research are discussed.

view more

Ethnic Identity and Regional Differences in Mental Health in a National Sample of African American Young Adults Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities

Monnica T Williams, Gerardo Duque, Chad T Wetterneck, L Kevin Chapman, Ryan CT DeLapp

2017

Prior research has found that a strong positive ethnic identity is a protective factor against anxiety and depression in African Americans. In this study, ethnic identity is examined in a geographically representative sample of African American young adults (n = 242), using the Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM) (Phinney in J Adolescent Res 7:156–76, 15). The two-factor structure of the measure (Roberts et al. in J Early Adolescence 19:301–22, 1) was analyzed using a structural equation model and displayed an acceptable fit only when multiple error terms were correlated. A multigroup confirmatory factor analysis revealed measurement equivalence of the two-factor structure between African Americans from Southern and non-Southern regions of the USA. We found that significantly higher levels of ethnic identity were present among African American in the South compared to other regions, and region significantly predicted total ethnic identity scores in a linear regression, even when controlling for gender, age, urbanicity, and years of education. Furthermore, among African Americans, living in the South was significantly correlated with less help-seeking for diagnosed depression, anxiety, and/or obsessive-compulsive disorder, where help-seeking was defined as obtaining a diagnosis by a professional. The role of ethnic identity and social support are discussed in the context of African American mental health.

view more

Violent obsessions are associated with suicidality in an OCD analog sample of college students Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

Terence HW Ching, Monnica Williams, Jedidiah Siev

2017

The picture of suicide in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is unclear because previous research did not uniformly control for depressive symptoms when examining the relationship between OCD and suicidality. Specific links between OC symptom dimensions and suicidality were also not adequately studied. As such, we investigated specific associations between OC symptom dimensions and suicidality, beyond the contribution of depressive symptoms, in an OCD analog sample of college students, a group traditionally at risk for suicide. One hundred and forty-six college students (103 females; 43 males) who exceeded the clinical cut-off for OC symptoms on the Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory, Revised (OCI-R) were recruited. Participants completed an online questionnaire containing measures that assessed suicidality and OC and depressive symptom severity. Total OC symptom severity, unacceptable thoughts, and especially violent obsessions exhibited significant positive zero-order correlations with suicidality. However, analyses of part correlations indicated that only violent obsessions had a significant unique association with suicidality after controlling for depressive symptoms. Our findings support the hypothesis that violent obsessions have a specific role in suicidality beyond the influence of depressive symptoms in an OCD analog sample of college students. A strong clinical focus on suicide risk assessment and safety planning in college students reporting violent obsessions is therefore warranted. Future related research should employ longitudinal or prospective designs and control for other possible comorbid symptoms in larger and more representative samples of participants formally diagnosed with OCD in order to verify the generalizability of our findings to these groups.

view more

Contact