About our team:
JoAnn Difede, PhD, Director
Dr. Difede is a professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, an attending psychologist at NewYork-Presbyterian, and founding director of the Program for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Studies (PATSS) and the Welcome Back Veteran’s Initiative. Dr. Difede has worked closely with military service members and first responders (e.g., NYPD, NYFD) for the past twenty-five years. She has served as a lead investigator and program director for several efforts to develop treatments for combat-related PTSD and related deployment conditions. Dr. Difede is currently serving as the lead investigator of two Department of Defense-funded clinical trials designed to develop and test innovative psychological and pharmacologic treatments for combat-related PTSD. She worked closely with the Welcome Back Veterans Major League Baseball initiative, creating programs for U.S. Service Members and their families to bridge the gap between civilian, military, and VA medical centers. Dr. Difede has also trained and supervised active duty and civilian clinicians in the use of virtual reality exposure therapy at several U.S. military medical facilities for the past decade. Dr. Difede served on the advisory board of the Jericho Project, a foundation serving homeless veterans for many years. She received an award from the American Psychological Association for Outstanding Contributions to the Practice of Trauma Psychology for her work pioneering the use of virtual reality technology to treat combat and WTC-related PTSD.
Melissa Peskin, PhD
Dr. Peskin is an assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine and an assistant attending psychologist at New York-Presbyterian. She has expertise in evidence-based treatments for PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Dr. Peskin serves as a co-investigator and treating psychologist for a Department of Defense-funded study of treatments for combat-related PTSD in service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. She also serves as primary supervisor and coordinates a trauma rotation for psychiatry residents, psychology interns, and social workers learning evidence-based treatments for PTSD (e.g. exposure therapy). She completed her internship at the Cincinnati Veterans Affairs Medical Center where she treated veterans with PTSD, anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders. She is currently leading a pilot study exploring whether interacting with a therapy dog affects participants’ perceptions of a potential therapist and willingness to engage in treatment. Dr. Peskin is also co-investigator and treating psychologist on a study comparing Interpersonal Psychotherapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for service members with PTSD due to military sexual trauma. Dr. Peskin’s research focuses on developing and improving the effectiveness of treatments for PTSD. She is also involved in efforts to disseminate evidence-based treatments for PTSD.
Andrew McAleavey, PhD
Dr. McAleavey is an instructor of psychology in psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine. He serves as the principal diagnostic assessor for multiple Department of Defense-funded research studies seeking to evaluate treatments for combat-related PTSD. Dr. McAleavey provides outpatient psychotherapy and works with inpatients at the William Randolph Hearst Burn Center at NewYork-Presbyterian. His clinical work focuses on PTSD, anxiety, depression, and anger management. Dr. McAleavey is currently researching the mechanisms of psychotherapy outcomes and the genetic, psychophysiological, and cognitive-emotional factors that influence the development of PTSD following a trauma and determine who is most likely to respond to treatment.