UT Tyler Office of Marketing and Communications

UT Tyler Researcher Receives Grant to Study New Approach to Treating Anxiety

June 17, 2011

Media Contact: Hannah Buchanan 
Public Affairs Specialist
Marketing and Communications
The University of Texas at Tyler

SassDr. Sarah Sass, assistant professor of psychology at The University of Texas at Tyler, has received a grant from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health to study a new approach to treating anxiety, Dr. William Geiger, College of Education and Psychology dean, announced.

With the $17,150 grant, Sass will develop a computer program that can divert people’s attention away from emotionally arousing stimuli that may contribute to anxiety. She hopes to show that attention training is capable of reducing symptoms of anxiety.

“This project has potentially far-reaching implications for refining theories about the cause and treatment of anxiety,” Sass said. “If proven effective, computer-based interventions can be used to treat people with less access to mental health resources, such as those without health insurance, from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds or who live in rural locations.”

Her proposal was selected from a pool of 48 applicants from 17 Texas universities. The foundation awarded one-year grants totaling $226,770 to 13 tenure-track assistant professors exploring different aspects of mental health in Texas.

“Anxiety disorders affect millions of people in the U.S. For example, general anxiety disorder affects about four million adults, while social anxiety disorder impacts another 5.3 million adults. This highlights the need to continue to look for effective treatments and that is just what Dr. Sass is doing with this grant,” said Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr., Hogg Foundation executive director.

The Hogg Foundation was created in 1940 by the children of former Texas Governor James S. Hogg and is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at UT Austin. The foundation advances recovery and wellness in Texas by funding mental health services, policy analysis, research and public education.

Serving UT Tyler since 2010, Sass holds a Ph.D. and master of arts degrees in clinical psychology, both from the University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign.

Her research interests involve mechanisms and treatment of psychological disorders, emphasizing internalizing disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Professional memberships include Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy, American Psychological Association and Association for Psychological Science.

One of the 15 campuses of the UT System, UT Tyler offers excellence in teaching, research, artistic performance and community service. More than 80 undergraduate and graduate degrees are available at UT Tyler, which has an enrollment of more than 6,400 high-ability students at its campuses in Tyler, Longview and Palestine.

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 Last Published 6/16/11