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Therapist Spotlight: Dr. Christine Leyva


What do you enjoy most about working with people with anxiety disorders and OCD?

I love seeing people get better and take their lives back from anxiety. Anxiety has a special place in my heart because it is one of the few mental disorders that if patients really put the work in, we can see very rapid and long-lasting improvement. When patients come in and have a bright gleam in their eyes because they have had success with an exposure the previous week or have had something click cognitively for them, it really reminds me of why I went into this profession and renews my enthusiasm for the work.

Is there a time in your life when you had to overcome anxiety?

I have always been an anxious person, starting from early childhood. I remember being afraid to go into my basement, and I would run like crazy every time I had to go down there to get something from the freezer. One time, I think I was maybe 10 years old, I was running so hard up the stairs that I tripped and landed on my shins, which really hurt because the stairs were uncarpeted wood. After that, I forced myself to walk more slowly so as not to fall again, and I accidentally noticed that the more slowly I made myself walk, the more I realized that my anxiety would eventually calm down by itself. That was probably my first introduction to exposure, even though I didn’t realize it at the time.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to run, cook, and spend time with my family and friends. I have two little boys who keep me pretty busy and exhausted most of the time. Creating hearty, homemade dinners to nourish my family and my friends is one of the things that I think fills my heart the most. Then I have to run to burn off all those calories.

What do you enjoy about working at the Anxiety Treatment Center of Austin?

ATCA is a great group of providers who really care about their patients and about each other. I’m proud to be a part of such a cool team of down-to-earth people.

Imagine your house caught fire. After saving loved ones and pets, you have time to safely save one item. What would it be and why?

Probably would have to be the external hard drive that has all of my boys’ baby pictures and baby movies on it. I would hate to never be able to look back at those memories.

>> Read Dr. Leyva’s psychologist profile.