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The Anxiety and Stress Lab, located in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is directed by Jonathan Abramowitz, PhD.

Trainee Lab Members

Doctoral Students:

  • Jennifer Buchholz, MA
  • Samantha Hellberg, BA
  • Heidi Ojalehto, BA

Postbaccalaureate Research Assistant:

  • Megan Butcher, BA

We asked each of the Anxiety and Stress Lab's ABCT members:

  1. What is your area of research interest?
  2. How has ABCT been helpful to you?
  3. If a student were thinking about joining ABCT, what activities would you recommend they get involved in?

Jennifer Buchholz, MA

  1. My research aims to (1) identify therapeutic techniques that enhance exposure therapy for anxiety-related disorders and (2) explore sociocultural and psychological factors that affect symptom development and recovery.
  2. I look forward to the ABCT convention each year as an exceptional opportunity to learn from clinicians and researchers with diverse areas of expertise and to develop interdisciplinary collaborations.
  3. I recommend attending the ABCT annual convention and virtual workshops throughout the year. ABCT's professional development programming has shaped my career path throughout my time as a student member.

Samantha Hellberg, BA

  1. My primary research interests center on the mechanisms of perinatal mental health, with a focus on anxiety- and trauma-related concerns. Within this area, I am very interested in the use of novel technology-based assessment methods (e.g., ecological momentary assessment) and quantitative approaches that can inform our understanding of dynamic and person-specific processes.
  2. ABCT has been foundational to my education and professional trajectory. I first joined ABCT during my postbaccalaureate ("post-bac") research assistant position. While a post-bac member, I developed my research interests and encountered cutting-edge research in the field at the annual ABCT convention. I also connected with prospective mentors and received invaluable guidance to support my application process for PhD programs in Clinical Psychology. Since starting my doctoral degree at UNC, ABCT has continued to play a considerable role in my professional development. Through the annual convention and my role as a student representative for the Technology & Behavior Change SIG, I have been able to continue to build my professional network, refine my program of research, and receive additional mentorship to support my development as a trainee.
  3. In addition to presenting at the annual convention, I recommend trainees and post-bacs get involved with the Student SIG as well as other specialized SIGs related to their potential research interests. These groups often provide formal and informal ways to connect with fellow trainees and leading professionals in your area(s) of interest. For me, the connections made through SIG membership have been very valuable in supporting my graduate application process, obtaining independent funding, and generally, providing support in graduate school and these early phases of career development!

Megan Butcher, BA

  1. I am interested in the intersection between physical health and mental health outcomes, especially related to chronic illness/pain and anxiety disorders. I am particularly interested in how risk factors, such as sleep disturbance and distress (in)tolerance, might mediate those relationships.
  2. ABCT has exposed me to different resources and professionals in the field, which has led me to explore new career opportunities. While presenting posters at the annual ABCT convention, I connected with other researchers and potential graduate school mentors. Additionally, ABCT has granted opportunities to learn about topics beyond my immediate area of interest that I otherwise would not have exposure to.
  3. I would highly recommend presenting research and/or attending a poster session at the ABCT convention to connect with other professionals in their research areas of interest. I also recommend joining SIGs and/or attending SIG meetings-these talks have helped me to explore and develop research interests prior to applying to graduate school programs.

Jonathan Abramowitz, PhD

Jonathan Abramowitz is Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, and Director of the Anxiety and Stress Disorders Clinic at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). An internationally recognized expert on obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety, he has published over 300 research articles, books, and book chapters. Dr. Abramowitz is a Past President of ABCT and is Editor of the Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders. He is a regular presenter at professional conferences and has received numerous awards for his contributions to the field, including ABCT's "Spotlight on Mentors" program.

The UNC Anxiety and Stress Lab is both a research laboratory and a clinic, serving as a recruitment vehicle for research projects, a training clinic for graduate students to refine their skills in the use of empirically supported assessment and intervention for individuals with clinical anxiety, and as a resource for members of the university and surrounding communities who are in need of clinical services. Lab alumni have gone on to successful careers in academic psychology departments, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), teaching colleges, and other opportunities in the field.

How long have you been a member of ABCT?

I joined ABCT in 1995, when it was still "AABT." I was in graduate school (my advisor turned me on to AABT) and have been a proud member ever since. So, it's been 25 years!

How often and why do you attend the ABCT convention?

I wouldn't miss the ABCT convention (and even planned the birth of my children so they wouldn't coincide!), and I usually take a group of graduate and undergraduate students from my lab. I attend because ABCT is my professional home. I love the learning that takes place, the chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones, and the opportunities to present my lab's work and show off my wonderful students.

How do you stay current with developments in the field, both research and practice?

I read a lot of journal articles and serve as a journal editor and reviewer. I also find that my graduate students keep me up to date on areas of the field they are interested in.

How has ABCT helped you/your lab professionally?

I have many professional collaborations that started by meeting people with similar interests at the ABCT convention.

Does your lab have any traditions? Does your lab do anything together for fun?

Yes, every year we try to organize a dinner out together during the ABCT convention with other labs that we collaborate with. We also have end-of-semester dinners to celebrate our lab's accomplishments outside of the convention.

What advice would you give prospective trainees?

When I'm reviewing applications for our Clinical Psychology PhD program, I look for applicants with experience that's relevant to the lab they're applying to. It's really that match that's most important, in my opinion. So, my advice is to work in lab or finish a master's degree and get good research experience before applying to a PhD program in Clinical Psychology. Good grades and test scores aren't enough these days.

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