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Maria Kleinstaeuber

Maria Kleinstaeuber

(She/Her)

Assistant Professor - Combined Clinical/Counseling Specialization

Contact Information

Office Location: SCCE 444
IconPhone: 435-797-1236
IconEmail: maria.kleinstaeuber@usu.edu

Biography

I am currently an assistant professor in the Combined Clinical/Counseling PhD specialization in the Department of Psychology at Utah State University. My research over the past eleven years has centered on the interface between mental and physical health and applies both a Clinical and a Health Psychology perspective. I have developed a special interest in studying the phenomenon of individuals who have difficulties adjusting to persistent physical symptoms (e.g., chronic pain) and who develop psychological distress, known as Somatic Symptom Disorders (SSD).

In this context, one of my most important research endeavors has been to develop psychological interventions for individuals with SSD that are theory-driven and informed by results of basic research investigating pathomechanisms of somatic symptom distress. I have developed a special interest in emotion processing and regulation as a factor that potentially acts as a mechanism of SSD etiology and outcomes. My health psychology perspective on somatic symptoms focuses on placebo and nocebo effects as well as on the role of symptom perceptions and expectations in illness management.

I completed my entire training (Psychology Diploma and postgraduate clinical training) in Germany and earned my PhD in Psychology from Johannes Gutenberg-University in Mainz (Germany). I accomplished a part of my postdoctoral time at Brigham Young University in Provo (Utah). Over the past four years I have worked as researcher, lecturer, and clinician in different research and clinical institutions in New Zealand. Since 2015 I have been Secretary of the Board of the International Society of Behavioral Medicine (ISBM). I have been Associate Editor of the Journal of Psychosomatic Research since 2021.

I enjoy working with graduate as well as undergraduate students with clinical and/or research ambitions. My mentoring style is characterized by balancing support and autonomy according to my students’ needs, an atmosphere of trust and mutual understanding, team spirit, commitment, passion, and enthusiasm. The central aims of my mentoring style are to help my students to develop further their professional skills and expertise but also to give them space for personal growth and to develop their individual identity and professional role as a psychologist.

If you share interests with me in the research of the interface between mental and physical health and are interested in working with me, please contact me directly via email.