Emily M. Becker-Haimes, PhD
Assistant Professor

Emily M. Becker-Haimes, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and the Clinical Director of the Pediatric Anxiety Treatment Center at Hall Mercer (PATCH) program. She is a clinical psychologist and implementation scientist dedicated to improving mental healthcare for youth. 

Dr. Becker-Haimes’ research dually focuses on treatment optimization for pediatric anxiety and related disorders and studying how to optimize the implementation of evidence-based treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy into community settings. Dr. Becker-Haimes is the author of the Resource for Exposures for Anxiety Disordered Youth (READY) Toolkit (www.bravepracticeforkids.com) and has developed and led research concerning the implementation and utilization of exposure therapy in diverse clinical settings. Dr. Becker-Haimes has authored over 75 peer-reviewed publications and her work is funded by organizations such as the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), the International OCD Foundation, and the Pew Charitable Trust. She has received several national awards for her work, including the Future Directions Launch Award from the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, the Outstanding New Investigator Award from the Society for Implementation Research Collaboration, and the Early Career Psychologist of the Year Award from the Pennsylvania Psychological Association.  

Clinically, Dr. Becker-Haimes is an expert in the treatment of anxiety and related disorders, with expertise in the application of exposure therapy for anxious youth with complex comorbidities. She has trained hundreds of clinicians in the application of exposure therapy and is dedicated to advancing the reach of exposure therapy to all youth who might benefit. Dr. Becker-Haimes also conducts the initial diagnostic evaluations for youth receiving services through the PATCH program and provides clinical supervision to PATCH clinicians and trainees. 

Dr. Becker-Haimes received her undergraduate degree from Johns Hopkins University and her Ph.D in child clinical psychology from the University of Miami. She completed her predoctoral internship at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and her postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a licensed psychologist in the state of Pennsylvania. 


The Pediatric Anxiety Treatment Center at Hall-Mercer (PATCH)

Anxiety and related disorders are among the most common psychiatric disorders that affect children and adolescents. Fortunately, they are also among the most responsive to treatment. PATCH (Pediatric Anxiety Treatment Center at Hall-Mercer) is a specialty clinic in Center City Philadelphia that assesses and treats children and adolescents with anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), tics, and trichotillomania. PATCH is the only anxiety clinic in the greater Philadelphia region to serve youth with public insurance and is currently the only designated evidence-based practice center for exposure-based CBT within the Philadelphia public mental health system.

To learn more about the PATCH program, please visit our website: https://www.med.upenn.edu/hallmercer/patch_about.html

Role: Clinical Director

Project ACTIVE (Assessing Causal Pathways and Targets of Implementation Variability for EBP use)

The goal of this study is to advance understanding of causal implementation pathways and determine the best targets for implementation strategies to increase the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). We aim to recruit community mental health clinicians who have been trained in CBT through Penn Collaborative for CBT and Implementation Science in partnership with the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disability Services. Our primary aim is to test the extent to which intentions, attitudes, self-efficacy, and norms differentially predict the use of CBT components among clinicians recently trained in CBT. Our secondary aim is to test the pathways by which organizational factors predict and moderate determinants of the CBT components. To achieve our aims, we are recruiting clinicians in the city of Philadelphia and Texas complete batteries of self-reports related to CBT and submit audio-recordings of their therapy sessions. Successful completion of the proposed study would advance implementation theory, identify a set of malleable targets for implementation strategies, and improve rates of EBPs use in community settings, alleviating the suffering of those with mental illness.

Role: Principal Investigator

Funder: NIMH

Mechanism: R01

The Resource for Exposures for Anxiety Disordered Youth (READY) Toolkit

The READY toolkit is a compendium of resources for practicing clinicians to support their delivery of exposure-based techniques to clinicians. The READY toolkit provides an overview of the rationale, theory for, and effective delivery of exposures. It highlights some of the nuances, common pitfalls, and things to avoid in the delivery of exposure therapy. Most critically, the toolkit provides an array of exposure options (“challenge cards”) for the most common anxiety presentations in youth. We know that ongoing consultation with an expert in youth anxiety treatment to design tailored exposures for individual youth is not always feasible. The READY toolkit is designed to stimulate ideas for additional exposure options that are best suited for a specific child or teenager. Our team continues to refine and develop content for the READY toolkit and evaluate its acceptability, feasibility, and impact on supporting clinicians to deliver exposure therapy to youth who may benefit. The READY toolkit can be accessed for free at www.bravepracticeforkids.com 

Role: Principal Investigator

Project RESPECT (Revamping Evidence based Supports to Promote Effective Culturally responsive Treatment)

For Project RESPECT the title is good. Change associated text to say: There is strong evidence that current evidence-based interventions (EBIs) need systematic adaptation to improve the cultural responsiveness and fit for historically underserved youth and families, but there is little guidance on what and how to systematically adapt, especially within OCD treatment. The goal of this study, led by CMH formal postdoctoral fellow Dr. Amanda Sanchez, is to understand how to best apply person-centered cultural adaptations by utilizing a systematic user-centered process. This is centered around clinician feedback and emphasizes collaborative decision making to develop a cultural adaptation toolkit for use with youth with OCD and related disorders. The aims of this study are threefold: 1) to evaluate the effectiveness of cultural adaptations being made to EBIs for pediatric OCD and related disorders, examined through chart reviews and semi-structured interviews, 2) to develop a culturally responsive adaptation toolkit and training plan for youth with OCD, and 3) to evaluate perceived acceptability and feasibility of the toolkit and training plan in a sample of clinicians. This project supports innovative clinical research on the treatment of OCD and related disorders and to specifically understand the role race, ethnicity, and culture play in OCD treatment. This study will begin to fill a critical gap in current understanding of how to improve the cultural responsiveness of pediatric OCD treatment and reduce inequities. 

Role: Mentor 

Funder: The International Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Foundation 

Mechanism: Michael Jenike Young Investigator Award (PI: Amanda Sanchez, PhD) 

Coping First Aid

The Penn Coping First Aid Program (CFA) was originally launched implemented in March 2020 as an accessible support service to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic within a large health system in Philadelphia. It has since been scaled out more broadly to support the well-being of the Penn Medicine Community. CFA is grounded in principles of Psychological First Aid, therapeutic microskills, and evidence-informed wellness techniques. Services are delivered by lay community volunteer coaches who are trained to listen, provide support, help individuals engage in adaptive coping, provide resources, and assist in linking to higher levels of care when needed. Ongoing satisfaction and perceived effectiveness data are collected to continuously evaluate and refine the program to optimize its potential impact to the Penn community. The CFA program is co-directed by Dr. Courtney Wolk and Dr. Emily-Becker-Haimes, in partnership with the Penn Workforce Wellness Committee.

Role: Co-Director

INTAAKE: Improving New Therapy Appointment Access, Knowledge, and Experiences

The goal of this study is to identify and generate strategies to alleviate the barriers that families of youth with anxiety and other related disorders face in engaging with specialty anxiety treatment. To achieve our aims, we are utilizing data from the Pediatric Anxiety Treatment Center at Hall-Mercer(PATCH), a specialty anxiety clinic located in Philadelphia dedicated to serving youth in the public mental health system. Aim 1 will identify family and youth characteristics associated with failure to engage with an initial intake appointment, using a retrospective intake database with 400+ youth. Aim 2 is to conduct semi-structured interviews with 10 caregivers who did not attend their initial clinic appointments to understand the perceived barriers and inquire whether a family-peer navigator (FPN) would be a helpful strategy to alleviate barriers. We hope to use all information learned to develop a family peer support service model.to assist caregivers to successfully engage with care for their children. 

Role: Principal Investigator 

Funder: Leonard Davis Institute (LDI) 

Mechanism:  LDI Small Grant Pilot Program 

CALMER: Clinician Affect Labeling and Management through Exposure Research

Project CALMER is one of three exploratory projects being conducted through the Penn INSPIRE Center. The goal of this study is to design and test a novel exposure-based implementation strategy (EBIS) targeting clinician anxiety and low efficacy using evidence-base suicide screening, assessment, and interventions (SSAIs). This project has three aims. In Aim 1, we will develop the EBIS protocol in collaboration with a community advisory board. In Aim 2, we will field-test the EBIS using rapid cycle prototyping (a fast-testing process which incorporates updated components with each new participant) with approximately 15 clinicians. In Aim 3, we will conduct an initial pilot feasibility randomized controlled trial with 40 randomized clinicians to test the acceptability, feasibility, and preliminary effectiveness of the EBIS compared to implementation as usual (IAU).  

Role: Co-Principal Investigator with Dr. Maria Oquendo 

Funder: National Institute of Mental Health  

Mechanism: P50