portrait of dr. robin weersing


V. Robin Weersing, Ph.D

Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology
6363 Alvarado Ct., Ste. 103
San Diego, CA 92120-4913

Office Location: ALV-6363/103/11

Mail Code: 1863
Phone: (619) 594-8901
FAX: (619) 594-8913

Courses Taught

PSY 333 Developmental Psychopathology
PSY 852 Experimental Psychopathology Proseminar: Graduate Research Methods

General Interests

Psychotherapy effectiveness, anxiety and depression, developmental psychopathology

Research Interests Child and Adolescent Anxiety and Mood Program (ChAAMP) Website

My research centers on the development of effective and efficient interventions for anxiety and depression in children and adolescents. To date, there have been over 1500 controlled investigations of psychotherapy for youth. Results of these studies tell a consistent story — we can produce substantial changes in youths’ psychiatric symptoms, with treatment effect sizes in the moderate to large range. This would appear to be good news for the families of the 11.5 million youth seeking mental health services each year and for the public and private organizations charged with their care. However, while we have copious evidence that interventions for youth can work well (i.e., are efficacious), we have very little information about whether treatments for youth do work well in practice (i.e., are effective).

To begin addressing this knowledge gap, I have engaged in work defining the models of treatment used in community mental health care, testing the effectiveness of these community therapies for depressed and anxious youth, and assessing the outcomes of experimental, evidence-based psychotherapies (e.g., cognitive-behavioral therapy [CBT]) under conditions approximating real world clinical service. These studies have revealed that (1) the outcomes of community mental health care for youth depression and anxiety may not exceed the natural remission rates for these disorders, and (2) it may be possible to improve treatment outcomes by exporting CBT interventions from research settings into active clinical practice. Recently, I have begun a series of studies aimed at developing ‘practice friendly’ CBT interventions for youth anxiety and depression. Studies will range from a focus group investigation with community practitioners to pilot intervention trials in community clinics and pediatric primary care.

In addition to my work in treatment effectiveness, I am very interested in probing the mechanisms of action of psychosocial interventions, particularly treatments for emotional disorders. Current interests include understanding reduction of experiential avoidance as a central mechanism in successful treatments such as exposure and behavioral activation. Through a deeper understanding of the core processes in treatment, I hope to aid in the development of efficient, focused interventions for internalizing youth.

Research Keywords: Anxiety, Depression, Treatment, Children, Adolescents, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Education and Training

  • Ph.D., University of California , Los Angeles , Psychology, 2000.
  • M.A., University of California , Los Angeles , Psychology, 1995.
  • B.A., Linfield College , Psychology, 1993.

Honors and Awards

  • Faculty Scholar, William T. Grant Foundation, 2004-2009.
  • Beck Scholar, Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research, 2005-2006.
  • Postdoctoral Fellow in Youth Depression, Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation, 2002-2004.
  • Michael J. Goldstein Distinguished Dissertation Award in Clinical Psychology, UCLA, 2000.
  • Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award, NIMH, 1997-1999.
  • Pauley Fellowship, Pauley Family Foundation, UCLA, 1994-1998.
  • University Fellowship, Psychology Department, UCLA, 1994-1995.

Funding Received

Principal Investigator, William T. Grant Foundation, “Developing and Disseminating Effective Interventions for Depression and Anxiety in Youth,” 2004-2009.

Principal Investigator, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, “Cost-Effectiveness of Brief CBT for Pediatric Depression,” 2004-2006.

Co-Investigator, NIMH multi-site R01, “Prevention of Depression in At-Risk Adolescents,” 2003-2008.

Principal Investigator, Klingenstein Third Generation Foundation, “Development and Dissemination of a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Adolescent Depression,” 2002-2004.

Co-Director, Treatment Effectiveness and Dissemination Unit, NIMH Center Grant, “Advanced Center for Interventions and Services Research for Early-Onset Mood and Anxiety Disorders,” 2002-2006.

Recipient, NIMH Institutional Postdoctoral National Research Service Award, 2000-2002.

Principal Investigator, NIMH Individual Predoctoral National Research Service Award, 1999-1997.

Selected Publications

Weersing, V. R., Iyengar, S., Birmaher, B., Kolko, D. J., & Brent, D. A. (2006). Effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy for adolescent depression: A benchmarking investigation. Behavior Therapy, 37, 36-48.

Weisz, J. R., Weersing, V. R., & Henggeler, S. W. (2005). Jousting with straw men: Comment on the Westen, Novotny, and Thompson-Brenner (2004) critique of empirically supported treatments . Psychological Bulletin, 131, 418-426.

Jensen, P. S., Weersing, V. R., Hoagwood, K. E., & Goldman, E. (2005). What is the evidence for evidence-based treatments? A hard look at our soft underbelly. Mental Health Services, 7, 53-74.

Compton , S. N., March, J. S., Brent, D. A., Albano , A. M., Weersing, V. R., & Curry, J. (2004). Cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy for anxiety and depressive disorders in children and adolescents: An evidence-based medicine review. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 43, 930-959 .

Gaynor, S. T., Weersing, V. R., Kolko, D. J., Birmaher, B., Heo, J, & Brent, D. A. (2003). The prevalence and impact of large sudden improvements during adolescent psychotherapy for depression: A comparison across cognitive-behavioral, family, and supportive therapy . Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71, 386-393.

Weersing, V. R., & Brent, D. A. (2003). Cognitive-behavioral therapy for adolescent depression: Comparative efficacy, mediation, moderation, and effectiveness. In A. E. Kazdin & J. R. Weisz (Eds.), Evidence-based psychotherapies for children and adolescents (pp. 135-147) . New York : Guilford Press.

Weersing, V. R., & Weisz, J. R. (2002). Community clinic treatment of depressed youth: Benchmarking usual care against CBT clinical trials. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70, 299-310 .

Weersing, V. R., & Weisz, J. R. (2002). Mechanisms of action in youth psychotherapy. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 43 , 3-29 .

Weersing, V. R., Weisz, J. R., & Donenberg, G. R. (2002). Development of the Therapy Procedures Checklist: A therapist-report measure of technique use in child and adolescent treatment. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 31, 168-180.

Southam-Gerow, M. A., Kendall , P. C., & Weersing, V. R. (2001). Examining outcome variability: Correlates of treatment response in a child and adolescent anxiety clinic. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 30, 422-436 .