Dr. Anja Schmitz




Office: 870 Market St, San Francisco (The Flood Building)

Email: dr.anja.schmitz@gmail.com

Phone: (415) 658-5628


I can help you if…

  • you are often feeling tense and anxious, can’t seem to stop worrying or are having panic attacks
  • you suffer from intrusive or frightening thoughts that feel out of control
  • social situations make you feel extremely nervous. You feel like you are unable to be yourself around people you don’t know well or feel isolated at social events.
  • you feel sad and depressed most of the time
  • you are suffering from stress at work or at home and feel overwhelmed
  • you would like to learn how to make yourself and your needs heard
  • you are struggling in personal or romantic relationships
  • you are feeling overwhelmed by a major life transition like moving abroad, changes in relationships, having children, switching careers or moving into a new personal or professional role
  • you want to explore how to balance work and life working in high-stress environments
  • you are seeking counseling on personal growth and development

I can provide therapy and counseling in English and German

About me

After spending ten years in academia and conducting research on personality, emotions, and anxiety,  I felt the need to have a more direct impact on people’s lives and well-being and help others to live life to the fullest.  My research and clinical training at the National Institute of Mental Health and the Universities of Giessen, Wuerzburg and Regensburg (Germany) mainly focused on anxiety and depression. Anxiety is an important feeling that warns us about potentially dangerous situations, but it can also be a paralyzing experience that prevents you from engaging in situations that are important to reach your personal and professional goals. It can lead to isolation and the sense that you make every decision based on how you can best avoid feeling scared. I can help you to find a way to break this vicious cycle of anxiety and avoidance by building on your own strengths and learning new skills that will empower you to better understand yourself and pursue your goals.

I specialize in helping clients who are experiencing fear, anxiety or sadness, are undergoing stressful life transitions, or live/work in stressful and high-pressure environments.  I moved from Germany to the United States for my postdoctoral training, and I can relate to the challenges and changes such a major life transition poses. This experience has immensely broadened my cultural and interpersonal horizon, and I have learned to connect with people of different cultural backgrounds, and explore completely new and unfamiliar perspectives. I have also worked in a high-pressure environment for years and know how challenging it can be to find a sense of balance between your personal and professional goals.

Outside of my office, I love spending time with my friends and family and traveling the world. I enjoy exploring new places far and close – from hiking local coastal trails, to conquering volcanos (Kilimanjaro is next!), hanging out with comodo dragons, and navigating foreign cities. I feel at home in a tiny town called Feld in Germany, my favorite dim sum place in DC, and walking the hills and beaches of San Francisco.

Education and Training

I received training in psychology and psychotherapy in the United States as well as in Germany. I studied Psychology at the Justus-Liebig-University Giessen (Germany), where I earned my Ph.D. magna cum laude in Psychology (which has been officially evaluated as equivalent to a degree from a regionally accredited university in the United States). In addition, I received post-doctoral training at the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda (MD), the University of Regensburg (Germany) and additional clinical training in Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) at the University of Wuerzburg (Germany). I also completed a clinical internship at the Depression Clinic of the University of Regensburg, where I worked with clients suffering from mood and anxiety disorders, post-partum depression, and stress related problems, and led clinical groups on social skills, assertiveness, and depression. I am a licensed clinical psychologist in California (PSY 30074).

Research and Teaching

I am also actively engaged in research to advance our knowledge of how anxiety works, why some people are more susceptible to experience strong fear and anxiety, and how we best describe and treat mood and anxiety disorders. Besides seeing clients in private practice, I am collaborating with my former colleagues at the NIMH  on a large family study on mood and anxiety disorders and at the University of Regensburg on risk factors to develop clinical levels of anxiety. Throughout my career in research, I have authored over fifteen scientific publications and presented my research at national as well as international conferences. I have taught graduate and undergraduate classes on basic techniques in Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Emotions, and the Biological Basis, Etiology, and Treatment of Anxiety. In addition, I work with the amazing team at Kip to develop an app that you can use to find great therapists and make therapy more efficient.

Fees and Services

Most sessions are 50 minutes long and I can charge reduced fees on a sliding scale. Please contact me directly to find out more about my fees. I do not accept insurance but can provide you with a statement for any services received that you may be able to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement. Services may be covered in full or part by your health insurance or employee benefit plan. At least 48 hours notice is required if you need to cancel a session in order to avoid being billed for the session.

Contact Information

If you are interested in setting up an appointment, please contact me at (415) 658-5628 or dr.anja.schmitz@gmail.com, and provide your name, phone number, and a brief description of what you would like help with. I will provide a free 10-15 minute phone consultation with you to assess whether I have the skills to help you and to answer any questions you might have.

Selected Publications (see full list here)

Book Chapters

Merikangas, K. R., Burstein, M., Schmitz, A. (2012). Anxiety disorders in women, M.B. Goldman, M.C. Hatch, Editors, Women and Health, Academic Press, 1257-1270.

Selected Publications in Peer-reviewed Journals

Schmitz, A., Grillon, C., Avenevoli, S., Cui, L., Merikangas, K. (2014). Developmental investigation of fear-potentiated startle across puberty. Biological Psychology, 97, 15-21.

He, J. P., Burstein, M., Schmitz, A., Merikangas, K. R. (2013). The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ): the factor structure and scale validation in U.S. adolescents. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 41(4), 583-95.

Burstein, M., Georgiades, K, He, J. P., Schmitz, A., Feig, E., Kattan, G., Merikangas, K. (2013). Specific Phobia Among U.S. Adolescents: Phenomenology and Typology. Depression and Anxiety, 29(12), 1072-82.

Hermann, A., Küpper, Y., Schmitz, A., Walter, B., Vaitl, D., Hennig, J., Stark, R., Tabbert, K. (2012). Functional gene polymorphisms in the serotonin system and traumatic life events modulate the neural basis of fear acquisition and extinction. PLOS ONE, 7(9), no.e44352.

Schmitz, A., Grillon, C. (2012). Assessing fear and anxiety in humans using threat of predictable and unpredictable aversive events (The NPU-threat test). Nature Protocols, 7(3), 527-532.

Schmitz, A., Merikangas, K. R., Swendsen, H., Cui, L., Heaton, L., Grillon, C. (2011). Measuring anxious responses to predictable and unpredictable threat in children and adolescents. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 110(2), 159-170.

Strobel, A., Zimmermann, J., Schmitz, A., Reuter, M., Lis, S., Windmann, S. & Kirsch, P. (2011). Beyond revenge: Neural and genetic bases of altruistic punishment. Neuro Image. 54(1), 671-80.

Alexander, N., Küpper, Y., Schmitz, A., Osinsky, R., Kozyra, E., & Hennig, J. (2009) Gene-environment interactions predict cortisol responses after acute stress: implications for the etiology of depression. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 34(9), 1294-303.

Schmitz, A.; Kirsch, P.; Reuter, M.; Alexander, N.; Kozyra, E.; Kuepper, Y.; Osinsky, R.; Hennig, J. (2009) The 5-HT1A C(-1019)G polymorphism, personality and electrodermal reactivity in a reward and punishment paradigm. The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology 12(3), 383-392.

Schmitz, A.; Hennig, J.; Kuepper, Y., Reuter, M. (2007). The association between neuroticism and the serotonin transporter polymorphism depends on structural differences between personality measures. Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, 42, 609-810.