Creative Research into Engaging Applications for Timely Interventions in Mental Health
CREATIV Lab, focused on personalized interventions for mental health, is working to improve the mental health and well-being of people around the world as quickly and easily as possible.

Current strategies for treating mental health require extensive clinical training and an unrealistic time commitment from both the patient and the provider. Although many psychotherapies require 6-9 sessions to be effective, in reality, most people only go to one or two. This disparity poses a major barrier to mental health advancement, both on a national and global scale.
Drawing upon the latest advances in neuroscience, technology and psychological science, CREATIV Lab at the University of Washington develops targeted and streamlined behavioral interventions that any clinician can provide and that are readily available to a broad array of patients. We also train the next generation of psychosocial intervention researchers and partner with training and workforce development programs and external health care organizations to ensure widespread dissemination and implementation of our efforts.
CREATIV Lab is led by Patricia Areán, an international expert in developing psychosocial treatments that are robust and easy to disseminate in diverse health care settings.
Please contact us at 206-616-2129 or to learn more about any of our current projects.
The Ilios Study: Researching ways to help adults improve their focus and energy level
Ilios is testing the effectiveness of a video game-like digital therapy called Evo on treatment-resistant depression that causes impairment in concentration, focus and decision-making. In a small sample, older adults with depression who do not respond to antidepressants had significant improvement in mood and cognitive function after four weeks of playing Evo, improvement as good as that found with traditional therapy. This study focuses on adults 60-80 years old. Funded by NIMH.
The Estia Study: Researching how games can improve mood, memory and concentration in adults
Estia tests the effectiveness of the video game-like digital therapy Evo on treatment-resistant depression that causes impairment in concentration, focus and decision-making with a focus on adults ages 45-75 years old. Funded by NIMH.
Many behavioral interventions take a broad approach to treating a given illness, requiring patients to undergo a number of complex therapeutic strategies whether they need them or not. Engage takes a stepped approach to care, streamlining treatment by selecting therapeutic strategies that are patient-specific. The program starts with an action plan to help depressed patients re-engage in simple social and physical activities, and provides additional behavioral strategies if there is no improvement after two weeks. We are currently comparing Engage to traditional talk therapy (Problem Solving Treatment) in terms of effectiveness, ease of use, and clinician ability to deliver the intervention to participants with late-life depression. Funded by NIMH.

BRIGHTEN: Bridging Research Innovations for Global Health through Technology, Emotion and Neuroscience
The ability to evaluate new tools and treatments quickly and cheaply is paramount to bringing mental health care into the 21st century. BRIGHTEN is a mobile research platform that allows us to collect data on mood, cognition, and physical and social activity using smart phone apps and social media. Using BRIGHTEN, we conducted a clinical trial completely online comparing three types of mood apps for the treatment of depression in a nationally recruited sample of adults. Recruitment of 2,000 adults took just three months to complete; in traditional clinical trials it takes three years to recruit 100 participants. Similarly, the cost of the study was significantly less than a typical clinical trial, costing $500,000 compared to $2.5 million. Funded by NIMH.
Pat Areán, PhD
Pat Areán, PhD 
Director, CREATIV Lab

Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
P: 206-221-8692