Peter W. Tuerk

Director, Sheila C. Johnson Center; Professor of Education, General Faculty

  • Ph.D., University of Virginia, 2007
  • M.A., University of Virginia, 2004
  • B.A. James Madison University, 1995

Peter Tuerk, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist who specializes in evidence-based treatments for anxiety spectrum disorders, related research and training, and the integration of technology into clinical care.  He is the Director of the Sheila C. Johnson Center for Clinical Services at the University of Virginia, a multidisciplinary training clinic, where he serves as Professor of Education within the Department of Human Services. 

Previously, Dr. Tuerk served as Section Chief of the PTSD Clinical and Telehealth Programs at the Charleston VA Medical Center, helping to expand training in, and regional access to, effective care via telehealth technologies. He conducts research and clinical trials focused on the enhancement of evidence-based treatments in disseminated settings, serving as Principal Investigator on a number of NIH, DoD, and VA funded research awards, and is author of 110 peer-reviewed publications and commissioned government reports related to mental health service delivery and science. 

Dr. Tuerk’s clinical training is informed by the scientific literature and by his professional experiences and public service. He has served as a psychotherapy trainer for multiple national-level initiatives, state service organizations, and internationally, collaborating with government agencies in Australia and Japan to help disseminate evidence-based treatments (EBTs) in clinical settings.  For a number of years he also served as Director of Research Training for the APA-accredited Charleston Consortium Psychology Internship at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). He has also served as Chief Science Office for the VA’s Suicide Prevention Office, as chair of the National Strategy Taskforce for Evidence Based Treatments via Telehealth, and as editor for Springer International’s Behavioral Telehealth Series. Dr. Tuerk was recently named a Top 100 producer in the U.S. Purpose Economy for scientific and clinical contributions and he is the recipient of VA’s highest honor, the Olin E. Teague Award for outstanding career achievement. 

Current Work

Dr. Tuerk’s current research focuses on disseminating and augmenting evidence-based treatments for PTSD and childhood OCD via the development of specialized crowd-sourcing and asynchronous telehealth technologies, and the development of artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) technologies for the treatment of childhood social and school anxiety. Since joining the UVA faculty in June of 2018 he has been working on structuring the Sheila C. Johnson Center to optimize multidisciplinary training and research related to the provision of evidence based clinical services for area children, families, and adults.

Featured Current Contributions

Tuerk, P. W., Rauch, S. A., & Rothbaum, B. O. (2019). Effect size matters: a key neglected indicator of comparative trial quality. The Lancet Psychiatry, 6 (2), e4.

Tuerk, P. W. (2014). Starting From Something: Augmenting Exposure Therapy and Methods of Inquiry. American Journal of Psychiatry, 171:1034-1037.

Tuerk, P. W., Grubaugh, A. L., Hamner, M. B., & Foa, E. B. (2009). Diagnosis and treatment of PTSD-related compulsive checking behaviors in veterans of the Iraq war: The influence of military context on the expression of PTSD symptoms. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 166, 762-767.

Beidel, D. C., Tuerk, P. W., Spitalnick, J., Bowers, C. A., & Morrison, K. (2021). Treating Childhood Social Anxiety Disorder with Virtual Environments and Serious Games: A Randomized Trial. Behavior therapy, 52(6), 1351-1363.

Tuerk, P. W., Keller, S. M., & Acierno, R. (2018). Treatment for Anxiety and Depression via Clinical Videoconferencing: Evidence Base and Barriers to Expanded Access in Practice. Focus, 16 (4), 363-369.

Tuerk, P. W., Wangelin, B. C., Powers, M. B.,... & Hamner, M. B. (2018). Augmenting treatment efficiency in exposure therapy for PTSD: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of yohimbine HCl. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 47 (5), 1-21.

Tuerk, P. W., Schaeffer, C. M., McGuire, J. F., Adams Larsen, M., Capobianco, N., & Piacentini, J. (2019). Adapting evidence-based treatments for digital technologies: a critical review of functions, tools, and the use of branded solutions. Current psychiatry reports21(10), 1-13.

Media Links

Return from Chaos: Treating PTSD

Dr. Peter Tuerk explains how we process experiences and trauma at TEDxCharleston, April 2015.