Faculty Profile: Allyson Washburn

Allyson Washburn

Allyson received her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from The Johns Hopkins University and has conducted applied research with diverse populations for 25 years. She has been principal investigator on grants from the National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer's Association. Her current research and scholarly interests include personal and social transformation in aging societies, civic and social engagement, social cognition in normal aging and dementia, personhood in dementia, and person-centered therapy and care.

Allyson is Associate Professor in National University’s Psychology Department and teaches in the BA in Psychology, the MA in Human Behavior, and the MA in Gerontology programs. She has taught at Saybrook for over 10 years, primarily research methods courses, including statistics. In addition, she has served on numerous dissertation committees and chaired several dissertations.

Most recent presentations and publications:

O’Hara, M. & Washburn, A. M. (2013). What makes caring for elders person-centered. Presentation at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Honolulu, HA, July 2013.

Washburn, A. M. & von Humbolt, S. (2013). Person-centred counseling with older adults. In M. Cooper, M. O’Hara, P. F. Schmid, & G. Wyatt (Eds.). The handbook of person-centred psychotherapy and counseling. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Washburn, A. M. (2013). Your life at 75: Students imagine their future lives. Presentation at the annual meeting of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education, St. Petersburg, FL, March 2013.

Washburn, A. M., Von Humbolt, S., & O’Hara, M. (2012). Genuine empathic acceptance: Rogerian person-centered psychotherapy and counseling with older adults. Presentation at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, San Diego, CA. November, 2012.

Current research:

A Mixed Methods Study of the Experience of Being an Older Adult

Study with persons aged 75+ combines semi-structured interviews and a small battery of quantitative measures to examine two related issues: 1) Phenomenology of becoming and being an older adult, and 2) Existential concerns of older persons. In addition, the study will ask what attitudes, beliefs, and theories of aging these older adults appear to hold and to what extent these affect their experience of aging.

Curriculum Vitae

Upcoming Presentations and Public Addresses

Degrees, Discipline, Year, Institution

  • Ph.D./M.A. Experimental Psychology, 1992; The Johns Hopkins University
  • M.S.Ed. Secondary Guidance, 1976; University of Southern Maine
  • A.B. Psychology, 1971; Hood College  

Current Projects and Professional Activities

I am currently completing work on research projects funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the Alzheimer's Association and am seeking funding from the NIA and other sources to continue work on social cognition in aging and dementia and on improving quality of life for nursing home residents. I am also working on a book for the home health care field based on the experience of my co-author and her mother in her last years. In addition to teaching research methods at Saybrook, I teach biostatistics and DOXdesign and analysis of experimentsat a small engineering school, do statistical consulting for medical researchers, and work with governmental and NGOs in solving "wicked" social problems, or messes, using visual analytic methods. 

Significant Publications

Washburn, A. M., Sands, L. P., & Walton, P. (2003). Assessment of social cognition in frail seniors and its association with social functioning in the nursing home. The Gerontologist, 43, 203-212.


Washburn, A. M., Luxenberg, J., Brod, M., Steinhauer, M., & Katsap, M. (2000). “Club of Friends”: Enrolling nursing home residents in an adult day program. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 2, 225-229.


Batki, S. B. (co-author), Washburn, A. M. (co-author), Delucchi, K. & Jones, R. T. (1996). A controlled trial of fluoxetine treatment of crack cocaine dependence. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 41, 137-142.


Rosenbaum, M., Washburn, A. M., Knight, K., Kelley, M. & Irwin, J. (1996). Methadone maintenance treatment as harm reduction, defunding as harm maximization. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 28(3), 241-249.








Important Conference Presentations

  • Washburn, A. M., Sands, Laura, P., & Walton, Pamela, J. Assessing social-cognitive functioning in frail older adults with and without cognitive impairment. Presentation at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, Boston, MA, November 2002.
  • Washburn, A. M., Steinhauer, M., & Korda, S. The Doctors Shenson Quality of life Programs: Integrating adult day care amd long-term care models in a nursing home. Presentation at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, Boston, MA, November 2002.
  • Washburn, A. M. & Piotrowski, N. Click of Awareness: Family caregivers’ reports of earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Presentation at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, Chicago, IL, November 2001.
  • Washburn, A. M. & Walton, P. J. Theory of mind in aging and dementia. Presentation at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, Washington, D.C., November, 2000.
  • Washburn, A. M., Luxenberg, J., Brod, M., & Katsap, M. Evaluation of day care programming for nursing home residents. The 44th Annual Meeting of the American Society on Aging. San Francisco, March, 1998.

Research Interests


Research Expertise

Expertise Working with Saybrook Students


Research Expertise

Research Expertise Rating Guide:

  1. studied in a class or have read intensively on my own
  2. special training in the form of a workshop or equivalent
  3. taught a class in, or supervised research using this method (research practicum, on a dissertation or master's committee
  4. used in research myself
  5. published or presented at conferences my research using this method

Methods Traditionally Considered As Quantitative (But Need Not Be)

Laboratory Research 1, 2, 5
Field Experiments
Randomized Controlled Clinical
Quasi-experimental methods
Correlational Methods

Methods That Could Use Quantitative Or Qualitative Methods

Action Research
Survey Research
Interview Research
Observational Research
Epidemiological Research
Focus Groups
Self-Observational Methods
Narrative Methods
Feminist Methods
Content Analysis
Discovery-Oriented (psychotherapy)
Events paradigm (psychotherapy)
Archival Research
Case History Methods
Appreciative Inquiry
Multiple Case Depth Research
Hermeneutic Single Case Efficacy Design
Longitudinal research
Cross-sectional research

Methods Primarily Associated With Qualitative Research (But May Also Use Quantitative)

Ethnoautobiographical research 1
Hermeneutics 5
Grounded Theory 4, 5
Heuristic Research

Types of Analysis

Simple Parametric Statistics (t-test, etc.)
Confidence intervals
Analysis of Variance (including MANOVA)
Analysis of Covariance
Regression (including multiple regression)
Discriminant Function Analysis
Structural Equation Modeling/Path Analysis
Causal Modeling
Cluster Analysis
Survival Analysis
Bayesian Analysis
Meta-analysis and effect sizes
Factor Analysis
Time series analysis
Multidimensional scaling