I’m Richard Heimberg, Professor of Psychology, and This is How I Work




I am the Thaddeus L. Bolton Professor of Psychology at Temple University. I am also the founder and Director of the Adult Anxiety Clinic of Temple, which is a center devoted to the study of the nature and treatment of anxiety disorders. I am probably best known for my efforts to develop and evaluate cognitive-behavioral treatments for social anxiety disorder and somewhat less so for generalized anxiety disorder, but I have also pursued the study and treatment of dental anxiety in the last few years (with colleagues at Temple’s School of Dentistry). Over the years, I have been engaged in a variety of professional activities and am past president of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies and the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology and past editor of the journal Behavior Therapy.

Currently, in addition to my research activities, I spend a lot of my professional time mentoring doctoral students in clinical psychology, which is my most preferred activity.  I also do a lot of clinical supervision, either of treatment of clients of the Adult Anxiety Clinic or of clients in Temple’s Psychological Services Center, which is the main training clinic for our doctoral students in clinical psychology. I also teach our program’s course in cognitive-behavioral and empirically supported treatments and sometimes teach the clinical psychology module of our introductory psychology course.

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Current Gig: Thaddeus L. Bolton Professor of Psychology and Director of the Adult Anxiety Clinic of Temple University

One word/phrase that describes your work style: Persistent, consistent, devoted to the work.

Current computer/mobile device: Dell desktop, HP laptop, Samsung Galaxy phone

What apps/tools/software can you not live without?

Other than the standard requirements for word processing, statistical analyses, etc., that all researchers use, I have no particular needs or desires.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack?

You might need to ask someone else about that.

What’s your workspace set up like?

I do as much work at home as I do at the office, so I need to answer this question for each.  At work, my office is divided into two spaces – a desk space and a sitting area (with a small couch, easy chair, and coffee table, and another chair or two that can be easily pulled in). My desk space is set up with two large monitors on one side and a writing/reading/talking to someone across the desk space on the other. The sitting area is typically used for small meetings, supervision groups, etc. An important aspect to me is that one wall is all windows, so there is plenty of natural light.

At home, I have a room specifically devoted to my work life. It is a medium-sized room with plenty of light, furnished with a wrap-around desk and an easy chair, and I alternate between them when I work at home.  The room is also “furnished” with pictures of my grandchildren and other members of my family that just make me feel good to look at. Probably the most important aspect of the office is the door, because I can close it when I am not working and avoid having work thrust upon me when I would rather not think about it.

How do you keep track of things you need to do (any to-do-list apps)?

With a list in a file on my computer, which I update frequently. I have not found any apps that suit me better than the old-fashioned way.

Besides your phone or computer, what gadget can’t you live without, and why?

None. I’m not an apps guy.

What everyday thing can you do better than most people? What’s your secret?

I have a great capacity for work and I very much enjoy what I do. I am not the least bit sure that I can do anything particularly better than others in similar jobs, but I do believe I can do a very good job at anything I set my mind to.

What do you listen to while you work?

I have to be careful with music because I can find it a delightful distraction. It does not help me work if I end up paying more attention to the music than to my project of the moment. When I do listen to music, I tend toward music from the 1970s and 1980s, mostly ballads, folk, and soft rock. An old John Denver collection is playing in the background as I write this.

What are you currently reading?

Reading is mostly a way to relax for me (other than professional reading, of course). I tend to read fiction, sometimes fantasy. I have read all of the Harry Potter books, but I am just as likely to read David Baldacci, Jeffrey Deaver, Harlan Coben, James Patterson, Michael Connelly, Jonathan Kellerman, Patricia Cornwell, or Nelson DeMille.

How do you recharge?

See the previous question. My favorite way to recharge, however, is to spend quality time with my wife, Linda. Next come reading and watching sports on TV. I am a serious Philadelphia Flyers hockey fan and I still follow my graduate school football team (Florida State Seminoles) whenever I can.

How do you balance your work life and your home/family life?

I could be better at that. It is always a challenge, but I think I give it a good try.  Linda and I try to spend at least an hour of leisure time together every day regardless of whatever storms may be swirling around us.

What’s your sleep routine like?

This may not seem like it, but in my life, it is a trick (or at least tricky) question. This is because I have sleep apnea and need to wear a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device in order to sleep. I do this every night and it makes an amazing difference in my life. Sleep apnea also does better with regularity in up-and-down time, and I try to do the best I can with that.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

My father, a research physician for many years, told me upon learning that I wanted to pursue an academic career that I should never worry about tenure, promotion, or other things that we all can too easily become consumed with. Love the work and the rest will take care of itself.

He also taught me to pay it forward. I took this to mean that I should give my best to my students with no expectation that they will give anything back to me but with a large expectation that they will take what is useful from what I have given them and pass it on to others. When I take this attitude, I find my students give me an immense amount.


Rick Heimberg




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