Mary Jane Esplen

Consultation/Liaison Psychiatry

Dr. Esplen is a Full Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto and former Chair, Equity and Mentorship. She holds a graduate faculty appointment with the Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto and for several years chaired the Decanal Committee for the Temerty Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Esplen held prior roles as Scientist at the University Health Network and Mount Sinai Hospital and is founder and former Chair of the de Souza Institute, a Knowledge Translation Centre focusing on continuing education for health professionals in oncology and/ or palliative care. Under Dr. Esplen’s leadership, de Souza Institute grew to become a nationally recognized brand offering quality programs through its innovative online platform with more than 16,000 health professionals completing curriculum.

Dr. Esplen attained personal funding as Career Scientist from CIHR and NCIC for her research program in psycho-oncology. She led studies on the design, standardization, and testing of individual or group psychotherapeutic interventions to address coping, body image issues or grief and loss among cancer populations or those with genetic mutations. She also completed a series of studies to develop and validate psychometric instruments to address psychological screening needs or to measure self-concept associated with being a mutation carrier, now translated into more than 16 languages.

Dr. Esplen has a PhD, Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto and completed a Post-doctorate fellowship in psycho-oncology at Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute and Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto. She also completed the training program at the Toronto Institute of Psychoanalysis. She maintains a clinical practice with expertise in psycho-oncology, women’s mental health, coping with medical illness, palliative care, eating disorders, grief and loss and burnout/ resilience. She has given numerous keynotes and workshops on a wide- range of topics, including genetic testing and cancer, psychotherapy, group therapy models, guided imagery, cancer survivorship, and resilience.

Dr. Esplen is the recipient of numerous awards, including the lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology and the prestigious Bernard Fox Memorial Award from the International Psycho-oncology Society for her contributions to the field of Psycho-oncology.

Research Synopsis

Research Expertise includes the following: psychotherapy intervention research; psychosocial oncology; psychosocial impact of illness; psychosocial and behavioral impact of genetic testing, women’s mental health; knowledge translation and competency-based education, health care provider education research, psychotherapy trials, psychometric instruments, descriptive quantitative research, qualitative methodology.

Teaching expertise – Objects relation theory; Psychosocial and Psychotherapy Interventions, Group Therapy Models; Resilience, Burnout and Coping with grief and loss.