Risa Weisberg, Ph.D
Chief Clinical Officer
Risa has devoted her career to developing and scientifically testing scalable interventions for common behavioral health problems. Her mission is to expand the reach of high-quality, science-based behavioral health treatment.
She has over two decades of research, clinical, and leadership experience which she now brings to lead the clinical direction and research strategy of BehaVR.
Risa has a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from the University at Albany. She completed a doctoral internship and postdoctoral fellowship at Brown University. She is a Professor of Psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine and an Adjunct Professor of Family Medicine at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. She is an expert in cognitive-behavioral therapy and acceptance and commitment therapies. As a primary care psychologist, Risa has broad experience in treatment development and implementation for common behavioral health problems including anxiety, depression, chronic pain, substance use disorder, and adaptation to living with other chronic medical difficulties. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, the Veterans Administration, and numerous foundations. Risa is a member of the Scientific Council of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and a Fellow and former Board Member of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.
Why is a better future for mental healthcare important to you?
Emotional wellness is the most important factor in a life well lived. You can have wonderful physical health but still suffer greatly and not function well, if your mental health is poor. I’ve seen patients and friends who seem to outwardly have all the ingredients of happiness – physical health, financial stability, strong social support – suffer great pain from internal battles with their moods, anxieties, and substance use.
We are fortunate that effective treatments exist for a wide range of behavioral health problems, but access to this care is currently severely limited. There are far too few expertly-trained mental health providers to meet the needs of the population. I’ve devoted my career to finding better ways to bring high quality care to the people who need it.
What’s your favorite thing we’re working on at BehaVR?
The ability of virtual reality to fully engage your attention and create a sensory experience is overwhelmingly powerful. In traditional psychotherapy, we talk to patients about ways to interact
differently with their thoughts. In our treatments at BehaVR, we can have patients see their thoughts, hold them in their hands, and physically interact with them. In traditional mindfulness
practice, we might ask patients to imagine sitting on the bank of a river. At BehaVR, we can place them at that river bank.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
No one can give 100% of themselves to everything. Find what you are passionate about and focus all your energy there. Happiness comes from doing what you value and doing it well.
What’s your superpower?
I help people connect with their values to live their best lives.