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SJHH / Health Services/ Mental Health & Addiction Services/ Mental Health Services/ Anxiety Treatment and Research Clinic (ATRC)

Anxiety Treatment and Research Clinic (ATRC)

What this program does...

The Anxiety Treatment and Research Clinic's (ATRC) mission is to provide excellence and leadership in evidence based clinical service, education and research for anxiety disorders.

Our team of experts offer comprehensive evaluations and proven treatments for anxiety-related conditions. Treatments at the ATRC include both medications and effective psychological treatments. Our interdisciplinary staff is available to consult with your family doctor, psychiatrist and other professionals who are involved in your care. A physician referral is required to access care at the ATRC – for more information on how to access the clinic, please review our Referral Section.

"Anxiety Disorder" is an umbrella term that covers several different presentations of anxiety characterized by irrational and excessive fear, apprehensive and tense feelings, difficulty managing daily tasks and/or distress related to these tasks. Research shows that up to one in four adults has an anxiety disorder sometime in their life, and that one person in 10 is likely to have had an anxiety disorder in the past year. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem in women, and are second only to substance use disorders in men.*

*Adapted from Anxiety Disorders: An Information Guide © 2009 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

At the ATRC we care for people with the following conditions:

  • Panic Disorder
  • Agoraphobia
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Specific Phobias

And in some circumstances, we have limited treatment options for:

  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
  • Illness Anxiety Disorder

How this program helps...

The good news about anxiety disorders is that they are treatable.

We provide treatments that have been evaluated by research to be effective in the treatment of anxiety disorders.  We also provide monthly "booster groups" for people who have completed our treatment program and want additional support.  See the booster group schedules listed in the Support Group section below. 

The ATRC is committed to providing learners from various health care disciplines with training in state-of-the-art assessment and treatment methods for anxiety disorders to develop the expertise of future health care professionals to address anxiety-related problems and increase the accessibility of treatment options. As such, psychology or psychiatry residents and other closely supervised trainees regularly provide assessments and treatments.

We continually evaluate the treatments that we provide, so in the course of your treatment you may be asked to complete questionnaires or participate in other studies. Participation in any research study is completely voluntary.  The Hamilton Integrated Research Ethics Board at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and McMaster University has approved all studies conducted in our clinic.

We carry a full line of books on anxiety disorders and related topics for professionals and self-help.  You can purchase a book from our clinic's waiting room at the West 5th campus, or at the Outpatient Pharmacy located in the Main Lobby of St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, Charlton Campus. You may also find them at the public library, order them online, or from your local bookstore.  Please see the ATRC Bookstore section on this website for a list of available books for sale.


The Anxiety Treatment and Research Clinic is located on Level 1 at St. Joseph's West 5th Campus. 

Click here to download a Map and Directions.

The Clinic's Hours of Operation are:  Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

For more information please contact:
Amber Elcock, Patient Services Coordinator
Tel: 905-522-1155 ext. 35372

Dr. Karen Rowa

Medical Director:
Dr. Maiko Schneider

Click here under 'Mental Health Resources' for mental health tips sheets during COVID-19 to view, download or print.

Referral Process

Referrals to this program, with the exception of Pediatric OCD referrals, are processed by Connect, St. Joe’s centralized intake service for Mental Health and Addiction Outpatient Programs.

For Connect Mental Health and Addiction Outpatient Program Referrals: 

Click here to access the Connect referral form for the Mental Health and Addiction outpatient programs.

For Pediatric OCD Referrals

Click here to download the Pediatric OCD Referral Form and fax to 905-521-6120.  For more information, please contact Amber Elcock - Tel: 905-522-1155 Ext. 35372.


Information Sessions & Support Groups


Family Education and Support Group is offered for family members of patients referred to our clinic.  Registration in advance is required.  For further details click here:  ATRC Family Education Group.

A Family Education Series on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Children and Adolescents: The ABC's of OCD Seminar (held quarterly)

Booster Groups  -  Please note that due to ongoing physical distancing requirements during the Covid-19 Pandemic, we have now moved our Booster Groups to an online format using the secure video platform Zoom. Anyone wanting to participate in a Virtual Booster Group will need to meet the following requirements:

  - Access to a secure Internet connection and a device such as a smartphone, laptop, desktop, tablet, etc with a camera feature.

  - Be registered for a My Dovetale account (see details below)

  - Access to a private space for the duration of the group where no one else can hear or see others on camera (we encourage the use of headphones if possible). This is to provide privacy and confidentiality for all members joining the group.

The first Virtual Booster Groups are scheduled to begin on Thursday January 6th (PTSD Booster), Wednesday January 26th (General Booster), Thursday January 27, 2022 (PTSD Booster) and Wednesday, January 5, 2022 (*Mindfulness Meditation Booster) 

The time of our Booster groups has been changed to 3:30pm-5:00pm. 

Please Note that the Mindfulness Meditation Booster Group runs from 12:00-1:00p.m. on the 3rd Wednesday of each month starting September 21, 2022. 

If you are interested in participating in Virtual Booster Groups, REGISTRATION AHEAD OF TIME IS NOW REQUIRED.  We are not currently able to offer the Virtual Booster Group as a drop-in program.  You must call to register by 5pm the day before group in order to participate but we strongly encourage registering earlier.

If you would like to register to attend a Virtual Booster Group, please contact the clinic at (905) 522-1155 ext. 35377 and indicate which Booster Group you are registering for. If you do not already have a My Dovetale Account set up, a staff member will contact you and send you the required information.

Please call the clinic at (905) 522-1155 ext. 35377 if you have further questions.

View our 2022 Booster Group schedules for those people who have completed our treatment program and want additional support:

     Booster Group Schedule for OCD

     Booster Group for Panic, Social Anxiety, or Excessive Worry

     Booster Group Schedule for PTSD 

     Mindfulness Meditation Booster Groups

Teaching and Training

The clinic is involved in the training of health-care professionals. It is possible that psychiatric residents, clinical psychology residents, or other closely supervised trainees may provide some of your assessments and treatments.

Our commitment to providing clinicians with specialized training in the treatment of anxiety will increase the range of treatment options available to people suffering from anxiety problems.

Contacts for Training at the ATRC:

Clinical Psychology
Randi E. McCabe, Ph.D., C.Psych

For information about Residency and Practicum Training in Psychology at St. Joseph's Healthcare, follow the links:

Clinical Psychology Residency Program
Clinical Psychology Practicum Training

Dr. Luciano Minuzzi

Social Work
Jennifer Robinson, MSW, RSW

Jane Reynolds, RN, BScN, CPMHN(c)

Occupational Therapy
Tanja Colonerus, OT Reg. (Ont)

Other Training
Randi E. McCabe, Ph.D., C.Psych


We are continually trying to learn more about the causes of anxiety and the best ways to help people to overcome their anxiety problems. Our staff is internationally known for publishing numerous books and scientific papers on the nature and treatment of anxiety disorders. Through research at the ATRC and similar clinics around the world, there have been enormous advances in the treatment of anxiety in recent years.

Eligibility for participation in these studies is determined by clinical and research staff following your initial assessment.  Participation is never mandatory, and a decision to decline study participation will in no way detract from or interfere with your treatment.

All studies at the ATRC have been reviewed and approved by the Hamilton Integrated Research Ethics Board at St. Joseph's Healthcare, Hamilton and McMaster University.

Current Projects at the ATRC

Exploring Family Members’ Feelings about Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Principal Investigator: Olivia Merritt, PhD student,

Local Principal Investigator: Karen Rowa

We are conducting a study on family members’ expectations for and attitudes towards their loved-one’s treatment. We are currently seeking participation by family members of an individual who is seeking or attending group or individual treatment at the Anxiety Treatment and Research Clinic at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. This information will help us know better how to help family members help their loved ones. Participation involves completing an on-line survey. For more information, contact Olivia Merritt at  

  • Status: Active


Enhancing Parental Understanding of Engagement during Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Early Onset Pediatric Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Contact:  Carrie Bullard, RN, MN, CPMHN(C), or Ashleigh Elcock, Research Assistant

Early onset Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a mental health disorder that occurs in young children (10 years old and younger). Cognitive behavioral therapy is a short term therapy that involves the child completing activities to reduce obsessive-compulsive symptoms. The therapy is most effective when parents are involved in the treatment process; however, parents often do not participate. There is limited understanding from parents’ perspectives about their experiences during their child’s therapy. Better understanding about how parents are involved in their child's therapy will help to develop new and better ways to deliver this treatment in the community, to improve education and training for therapy providers, and to learn how nurses can better support parents during treatment. 

The purpose of this study is to understand what it is like for parents to engage in treatment for their child’s OCD when it is provided in the community or outpatient programs. This study will also explore the experiences of parents related to their engagement during treatment and the role of the nurse.  Follow this link for further information on this study.


Validation of the Diagnostic Assessment Research Tool (DART) for DSM-5 Disorders

Contact: Elizabeth Pawluk, Psychologist; Luke Schneider, Psychologist, or Natalia Musielak, Research Assistant

The Diagnostic Assessment Research Tool (DART) is a new diagnostic interview created by psychologists at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton to assess common mental health disorders. The DART is intended for use in both clinical and research settings, while also minimizing burden and inconvenience for patients and researchers through its modular design. The goal of the present study is to evaluate the psychometric properties of the DART to ensure confidence in its ability as an assessment and research tool.

Individuals referred to the ATRC for a standard intake assessment will be invited to participate in the study, which will involve up to two study visits each lasting approximately two hours. Participants who complete the study will receive $30 in compensation for each visit as well as a complimentary parking pass.

For more information about the DART, please visit


Reasons for Discontinuing Group Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Anxiety Disorders

Principal Investigator: Karen Rowa

Co-Investigator: Irena Milosevic

This is an online study about why individuals prematurely discontinue group therapy at the ATRC. Participants who started but did not complete group CBT at the clinic will be contacted and asked to complete an online survey that takes 5-10 minutes to complete.

  • Status: Active


Thinking Styles in Anxiety Before and After Treatment

Principal Investigators: Joelle LeMoult, PhD, UBC, local PI: Karen Rowa

The aim of this study is to help understand more about anxiety and the way people think and respond when in different moods. Participation in our study involves completing different questionnaires and computer tasks that are administered in a session before starting therapy for generalized anxiety disorder and then after therapy is complete. Participants are reimbursed for their time.

  • Status: On hold due to COVID-19


Endowment and Ownership in a Clinical Sample of Adults With Hoarding Disorder.

Principal Investigators: Karen Rowa and Noam Soreni                

The objective of this study is to better understand the development and persistence of ownership and psychological attachment to possessions for people with hoarding disorder. We are also interested in how people attach value to their personal possessions. Participants with and without hoarding disorder symptoms are asked to come into the ATRC for a single research session to complete computer tasks and paper and pencil tasks.

  • Status: On hold due to COVID-19


Investigating the cognitive and behavioural mechanisms of action of transcranial direct current (tDCS) stimulation in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Principal Investigator: Noam Soreni, MD

Co-Investigators: Karen Rowa, Ph.D., C.Psych.; Randi McCabe, Ph.D., C.Psych.

We are investigating the use of a new and exciting technique called transcranial direct current stimulation (or, tDCS), which is a form of neuromodulation. In this study, we are aiming to assess the effects of tDCS on several cognitive and behavioural variables in order to gain information about how this technique might be helpful in the context of OCD. This is not being used as a treatment in this study. Participants must be currently enrolled in group CBT for OCD at the Anxiety Treatment and Research Clinic, and your group will be visited be research staff to collect information from interested individuals. Participants will be reimbursed for their time.

  • Status: On hold due to COVID-19