The Anxiety Research Program is designed to enhance our understanding of the development and maintenance of anxiety and related problems in order to improve interventions targeting these common and costly problems. We continuously seek to accomplish this mission by maintaining an active research program in the area, teaching others about the science in this domain, and providing service in social and clinical settings that utilizes this science to improve the lives of people affected by these problems.
The Anxiety Research Program aims to provide a fertile context for training developing psychologists. Several experiences are included that are designed to go above-and-beyond the opportunities available in typical graduate training programs. These experiences fall into several domains of professional development, including systematic exposure to state-of-the-art experimental psychopathology methods, research dissemination, teaching/mentoring, and the application of research in applied settings. As one illustrative example, graduate students are encouraged to develop mentoring relationships with individual undergraduate research assistants as well as graduate students at more junior levels. These relationships vary, depending on the approach of the individual graduate student, from structured didactic training programs focused on empirical research in anxiety disorders to informal mentoring relationships designed to help prepare supervisees for the next step in their professional career. This “vertical team” model gives graduate students an opportunity to develop mentoring styles and approaches, while still receiving the support of a mentor. We believe these types of experiences are critical in preparing developing professionals for the multitude of facets involved in being a psychologist, whether in an academic, research, or clinical setting.
In addition to focusing on developing as rich of a training experience for graduate students as possible, the Anxiety Research Program strives to prepare focused, outstanding undergraduate students for further involvement in the mental health field. Drs. Leen-Feldner, Feldner, and graduate students working with them regularly meet with undergraduate students to identify strengths and weaknesses pertinent to being a psychologist. Relative weaknesses are then targeted as areas for further development and existing strengths are built upon. In addition to this general approach to mentoring, undergraduate students are exposed to contemporary theory and research in the area of anxiety disorders and related problems. Outstanding students interested in pursuing a career in psychology also are mentored through the transition from being an undergraduate student to the next step in their careers, which may involve becoming a graduate student in a psychology program, obtaining additional research experience, or providing services in the area of mental health.
In addition to constantly striving to maintain an environment that facilitates high levels of scholarly productivity, we also integrate activities outside of the traditional academic context. These outings take different forms, depending on the personnel involved and are considered dynamic in nature. However, they generally aim to promote innovative thinking by removing ourselves from the typical day-to-day of the academic life and foster continually improving relationships with the local community. For instance, these outings have included overnight camping trips as well as community-oriented clean-up projects, such as “Curb the Clutter.”
Overall, graduate students joining can expect a warm and supportive atmosphere characterized by an uncompromising dedication to helping students achieve their professional goals and excel upon commencement of their careers.