University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Psychological Science

Harold Leitenberg

Harold Leitenberg

Harold Leitenberg
Emeritus Professor

At UVM 1965-2001
  • B.A. City College of New York, 1960
  • Ph.D. Indiana University, 1965
Phone: 802-656-2661
Website: Behavior Therapy & Psychotherapy Center

A Brief History

Harold was born in New York City in 1939. He graduated from the City College of New York in 1960 and then went on to graduate school at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana where he obtained his Ph.D. in 1965.

He joined the Department of Psychology at the University of Vermont in 1965 as an Assistant Professor of Psychology and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1969 and to Full Professor in 1973. He also had a joint appointment in The Department of Psychiatry as Clinical Professor.

Harold was the Founding Director of the Ph.D. program in Clinical Psychology at the University of Vermont from 1969 to 1974 and served a second term as Director of the Clinical Program from 1980 to 1984. He also was the Founding Director of the Behavior Therapy and Psychotherapy Center in which Clinical Faculty and graduate students provided psychological services to the community. This clinic was established in 1972 and Professor Leitenberg continued as Director for 29 years until his retirement in 2001. During his tenure as Director, approximately 450 new referrals were seen by staff in the Behavior Therapy Center each year and fees collected for these services provided stipends for the many graduate students who worked in the Center. Harold provided clinical supervision to several hundred graduate students during this period. He also was the Founding President of the Board of Directors of the Child and Adolescent Psychology Training and Research Foundation which provides financial support for graduate students and faculty in the Psychology Department. He is still on the Board of this Foundation as well as the Board of Directors of the Behavior Therapy Center.

Dr Leitenberg's research interests spanned a number of different areas over his career but he is probably best known for his work related to Behavior Therapy, including especially seminal research on exposure based treatment of anxiety disorders done in collaboration with Stewart Agras and many graduate students in the late 1960's and early 1970's. He also published considerable research on treatment of Bulimia Nervosa and various topics in human sexuality (especially methods of coping and other mediators of the long term effects of sexual abuse and assault, the conundrum of statutory rape, and sexual fantasy).

Harold authored/co-authored and edited four books and over 100 refereed articles in peer reviewed professional journals. The range of journals in which he published gives some idea of the quality and breadth of his contributions to the field. They include:

  • Science
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Child Development
  • Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology
  • Psychological Bulletin
  • Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology
  • Behavior Research and Therapy
  • Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Psychological Review
  • Archives of General Psychiatry
  • American Journal of Psychiatry
  • Journal of Psychiatric Research
  • Journal of Abnormal Psychology
  • American Journal of Community Psychology
  • American Journal of Orthopsychiatry
  • Cognitive Therapy and Research
  • International Journal of Eating Disorders
  • Child Abuse and Neglect
  • Archives of Sexual Behavior
  • American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
  • Journal of Interpersonal Violence
  • Journal of Sex Research
  • Journal of Traumatic Stress

and still others.

What Harold enjoyed most, however, was working closely with graduate students both in research and clinical supervision. He was the dissertation advisor to 56 Ph.D. students and is proud of the careers these students have forged whether in the clinical or academic arena. Some of his better known students in Academia included Dave Barlow (behavior therapy and anxiety disorders), Jan Crowther (eating disorders), James Mulick (developmental disabilities), Richard Rawson (drug abuse), Linda Teri(treatment of dementia and alzheimers), and John Wincze (sexual disorders), each a star in their respective areas of interest.

Professor Leitenberg received a number of honors during his career including the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools Graduate Teacher of the Year Award, (1992-1993), the Outstanding Educator Award from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (2003), University of Vermont Scholar in Social sciences and Humanities (1982-83), and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Vermont Psychological Association (2001). He is a Fellow of several divisions in the American Psychological Association, an elected member of the International Academy of Sex Research, and a past President of the Vermont Psychological Association (1978-79).

Official Retirement Citation (2001)

"Harold's commitment to students and to providing a balanced graduate training in clinical research and practice was always at the forefront. He constantly engaged students in the pursuit of excellence, and had a major impact on the entire department."
-Professor David C. Howell

Education: BA, 1960, City College of New York; PhD, 1965, Indiana University.

UVM Career: Assistant Professor, 1965-69; Associate Professor, 1969-73; Professor, 1973-0l. Director, Ph.D. Program in Clinical Psychology, 1969-74 and 1980-84; Director, Behavior Therapy and Psychotherapy Center.

Key Scholarly Interests: One of the early research "pioneers" in the development of Cognitive Behavior Therapy for anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and sexual behavior problems. Other enduring research interests include a) what mediates and moderates the longterm negative effects of child sexual abuse and other childhood trauma, b) various aspects of human sexuality; c) cognitive vulnerability for depression; and d) psychological factors associated with better health outcomes in children with diabetes.

Publication Highlights: Editor and coauthor of 4 books, and over 100 Journal articles in diverse journals, including Science, Psychological Bulletin, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Behavior Therapy, Child Abuse and Neglect, Archives of General Psychiatry, Behavior Research and Therapy, International Journal of Eating Disorders, Archives of Sexual Behavior, Journal of Sex Research, Professional Psychology, Cognitive Therapy and Research, Child Development, Journal of Community Psychology

Teaching/Research/Memberships: University Scholar, 1982-83; UVM Graduate Faculty Teacher of the Year, 1992-93; Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools Graduate Teacher of the Year Award, 1993; President, Vermont Psychological Association, 1978-79; Fellow, American Psychological Association; Member, International Academy of Sex Research.

Community Service: President, Board of Directors of the Child and Adolescent Psychology Training and Research Foundation. Served on the Board of Howard Community Mental Health Center, Chittenden County Youth Service Bureau, Residential Learning Center.


Leitenberg Named 2003 Award Winner by The Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy

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