Spencer DawsonFeatured Trainee - Spencer Dawson MA

Spencer Dawson is currently a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at the University of Arizona and will be starting a postdoctoral fellowship at Northwestern University with SBSM president Dr. Jason Ong this coming January.

How did you get interested in BSM?

I entered the world of behavioral sleep medicine and sleep research in 2006 when I took a research position at the University of Michigan Depression Center Sleep and Chronophysiology Laboratory under the direction of Dr. Roseanne Armitage. I had no idea what I’d gotten myself into. As soon as I saw my first sleep study, I couldn’t turn away from the computer screen with its ever-advancing lines of EEG. I had no idea what any of it meant, of course, but in that moment I was transfixed. I quickly learned to stage score polysomnography, which, combined with our standard post-sleep questionnaire, led to the question that became the basis for my dissertation: why do people with insomnia overestimate their sleep onset latency and underestimate their total sleep time? 

Who are your BSM mentors?

Chronologically, and focused specifically on those who do BSM, my mentors have been Drs. Todd Arnedt, Deirdre Conroy, Leslie Swanson, Dick Bootzin, Tricia Haynes, Barry Krakow, and Mindy Sexton.

What are your career goals?

Contributing to the field of behavioral sleep medicine in a way that impacts the lives of all people who have difficulties with their sleep, whether intrinsic sleep disorder or externally imposed limitation or disruption of sleep.

What is your dream job?

A faculty position where I can conduct research, mentor students, and treat patients.

Where would you like to see the field of BSM in 10 years?

BSM, like behavioral interventions more broadly, offers something that many patients prefer, but only if they’ve heard of it. I would like to see BSM earn greater public visibility and to be part of every interdisciplinary sleep medicine team.

What are your favorite things to do away from the office?

Running, hiking, adult kickball, and motorcycles (I rode from Tucson to Minneapolis for APSS in 2011).

What is your next vacation or dream vacation destination?

At the top of my list now are Ireland, Great Britain, and northern Europe.

Do you have any special hobbies or talents?

I love cooking and both brewing and drinking coffee.

What experiences have helped shape your training in BSM?

With his relaxed and low-pressure approach, Dick Bootzin was a model of reassuring presence for his patients.

What resources have helped to advance your training?

Networking and personal connections have been indispensable.