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Department of Psychology Experimental Psychopathology und Psychotherapy

Professorship of «Experimental Psychopathology und Psychotherapy»

Prof. Birgit Kleim, PhD



What factors lead to the development of mental illness and, conversely, which promote resilience and resistance in the context of potentially traumatic events? What active mechanisms make current and evidence-based psychotherapy effective? And how can we make them even more effective, by translating findings from basic science, for example on autobiographical memory and "offline" memory consolidation during sleep? We investigate these questions using empirical and experimental methods in naturalistic and randomized clinical as well as experimental laboratory studies. The dual affiliation of the Department of Psychology and the Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich (PUK) supports the link of our research to clinical practice (and vice versa). Characteristic for our research is a close integration of experimental psychopathology research with the further development of current effective psychological interventions. The department includes a sleep/EEG laboratory, which extends and complements the capabilities of our research.

Teaching and further education

The focus of our teaching is based on our research interests in «Experimental Psychopathology und Psychotherapy». More information about our teaching can be found in the course catalog.


The affiliation with the Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich, PUK, enables an extension of teaching and research in the field of psychotherapy into the applied clinical setting of the largest psychiatric university hospital for adult psychiatry in Switzerland. As a department, we are professionally involved in the expansion and evaluation of psychiatric services at the PUK, where we also conduct research projects.  Thus, the therapeutic offers are also up to date with the latest research. Concerning outpatient treatment, we are involved in the treatment of stress and trauma-related disorders within the framework of the Outpatient Clinic for Specialized Psychotherapy,  ASP, at the PUK. Psychology students have the opportunity to work as interns in this setting, as well as in PUK's inpatient psychotherapy programs, and to participate in research projects in this area to gain early insight into psychotherapeutic practice, as well as psychotherapy research.

Selected Collaborations

  • Prof Richard Bryant, University of New South Wales, Sydney, AUS
  • Prof Anke Ehlers, University of Oxford, UK
  • Prof Isaac Galatzer-Levy, New York University, USA
  • Prof Jamie Griffith, Northwestern University, USA
  • Prof Iris Kolassa, University of Ulm, GER
  • Prof Björn Rasch, University of Fribourg, CH
  • Prof Christian Ruff, University of Zurich, CH
  • Prof Erich Seifritz, University of Zurich, CH

Selected Publications

  • * Homan S, Gabi M, Klee N, Bachmann S, Moser AM, Duri M, Michel S, Bertram AM, Maatz A, Seiler G, Stark E, Kleim B. (2022). Linguistic features of suicidal thoughts and behaviors: A systematic review. Clinical Psychology Review.doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2022.102161.


  • *Weber, M., Schumacher, S., Hannig, W., Barth, J., Lotzin, A., Schäfer, I., Ehring, T., Kleim, B. (2021, Jul). Long- term outcomes of psychological treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder: A systematic review and meta- analysis. Psychological Medicine, 51(9):1420–1430.


  • Grueschow, M., Stenz, N., Thörn, H., Ehlert, U., Breckwoldt, J., Brodmann Maeder, M., Exadaktylos, A.K., Bingisser, R., Ruff, C.C., Kleim, B. (2021, Apr. 15). Real-world stress resilience is associated with the responsivity of the locus coeruleus. Nature Communications, 12(1):2275. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-22509-1


  • Galatzer-Levy, I., Abbas, A., *Ries, A., *Homan, S., Sels, L., Koesmahargyo, V., Yada, V., Colla, M., Scheerer, H., Vetter, S., Seifritz, E., Scholz, U., Kleim, B. (2021, Jun. 3). Validation of visual and auditory digital markers of suicidality in acutely suicidal psychiatric inpatients: Proof-of-concept study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 23(6):e25199.


  • *Paersch, C., Schulz, A., Wilhelm, F.H., Brown, A.D., Kleim, B. (2021, Feb 25). Recalling autobiographical self- efficacy episodes boosts reappraisal-effects on on negative emotional memories. Emotion. doi: 10.1037/emo0000949


  • *Azza, Y., Grueschow, M., Karlen, W., Seifritz, E., Kleim, B. (2020). How stress affects sleep and mental health: Nocturnal heartrate increases during prolonged stress and interacts with childhood trauma exposure to predict anxiety. Sleep, 15(43):6.


  • Kube, T., Berg, M., Kleim, B., Herzog, P. (2020). Rethinking post-traumatic stress disorder – A predictive processing perspective. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 113:448–460.


  • *Haag, C., Robinaugh, D., Ehlers, A., Kleim, B. (2017). Understanding emergence of chronic posttraumatic stress disorder through acute stress symptom networks. JAMA Psychiatry, 74(6):108–109.


  • Kalisch, R., Baker, D., (...) Kleim, B. (2017). The resilience framework as a strategy to combat stress-related disorders. Nature Human Behavior, 1:784–790.


  • Kleim, B., Wilhelm, F.H., *Temp, L., Margraf, J., Widerhold, B.K., Rasch, B. (2014, May) Sleep enhances exposure therapy. Psychological Medicine, 44(7):1511–1519. doi: 10.1017/S0033291713001748

Weiterführende Informationen

SINERGIA - MULTICAST-A-MULTIdisCiplinary-Approach-to-prediction-and-treatment-of-Suicidality:

SNF project to predict suicidality through linguistic, clinical psychological and neurobiological characteristics and to develop digital treatment modules. Postdoc Stephanie Homan, PhD and PhD student Jacopo Mocellin are involved from our research group.


STRESS - Flagship Project of University Medicine Zurich:

Postdoc Laura Meine, PhD and PhD studentElla McPherson support the interesting  Flagship Project of University Medicine Zurich «STRESS».



The resilience framework as a strategy to combat stress-related disorders - neue Publikation aus unserer Arbeitsgruppe

A position paper by 38 scientists from eight countries.

Nature Human Behavior


Interested in talks about resilience? Check out Resilient Minds!

Since 2020, Laura has been co-organising the international online seminar series “Resilient Minds”, which is now run in collaboration with the Leibniz Institute for Resilience Research in Mainz (LIR) and the International Resilience Alliance (intresa). Resilient Minds aims to foster exchange and stimulate discussion about stress and resilience research. Meetings mainly focus on early career researchers, offer an informal space where speakers tell us a bit about their journey in academia and present not only polished and published findings, but also ideas, methods, and any stress and resilience research-related questions. That said, everyone is very welcome to attend and participate. Past attendees have included school pupils, university professors, administrators, clinicians, and teachers. 

A systematic review to linguistic features of suicidal thoughts and behaviors by Stephanie Homan.

Resilience factors in at-risk mental state for psychosis - DeEPsy study pays attention on this

In collaboration with PD Dr. med Anastasia Thedoridou , the understanding of the dynamic vulnerability-resilience relationship from a salutogenetic perspective in individuals with clinical high risk for psychosis will be investigated