About Us

We are a small group of highly trained specialists dedicated to providing the highest quality treatment for anxiety and OCD. Our training in evidence-based treatments and experience  allow us to reach your goals as productively as possible.  We understand your symptoms on a deep level because we work with people just like you every day.

We use highly researched treatments, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). Other techniques we use include mindfulness, self-compassion, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and EMDR for PTSD.

We’ve chosen to dedicate our careers to working with anxiety and OCD because we’ve seen how powerful evidence-based therapy can be.

Our Therapists

Sam Kramer, PhD

Sam Kramer, PhD

He/him

Ages I work with:
Adults and adolescents 16+

 Languages I speak:
English

Who I am:
I am a cisgender, heterosexual male, and use he/him pronouns.

I love working with:

  • People who identify as overthinkers.
  • Older teens and adults who struggle with repetitive thoughts like rumination, worry, and mental compulsions.
  • Adults with social anxiety, generalized anxiety, panic disorder and agoraphobia.
  • Adults with fears of flying.

My training background and therapy approaches include:
I received my Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale and completed my predoctoral internship at the Salem VA Medical Center in Salem Virginia. I went on to complete my postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for OCD and Anxiety-Related Disorders at Saint Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute, where I continued to practice for over four years treating anxiety at the outpatient and IOP level of care. I specialize in treating adults with OCD. I also enjoy treating panic disorder and phobias.

How I help:
Facing anxiety can feel like a daunting task. I work to meet clients where they are and to collaboratively help them identify their goals and create a step-by-step path to recovery. I approach therapy with a relaxed and personable therapeutic style, and I encourage clients to not only understand what strategies work, but also why they work. Clients can expect to learn how to address their anxiety during sessions and then apply what they learned with daily homework between sessions. I aim to empower my clients by teaching them the strategies they will need to act as their own therapist and continue to maintain their progress after they have completed therapy to experience lifelong change.

More about me:
In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my wife and two children, hiking and enjoying the outdoors, and playing guitar every chance I get.

Amy Kurz, MSW, LCSW

Amy Kurz, MSW, LCSW

She/her

Ages I work with:
Adults, Teens, and Children 10+

Languages I speak:
English

Who I am:
I use she/her pronouns.

I love working with:

  • Teens who have finally realized that their OCD is not their fault and have shared that they want help.
  • Teens and college students with social anxiety who are hard on themselves and want to learn self-compassion.
  • College students with perfectionistic tendencies who are realizing that the usefulness of perfectionism has started to wear off.
  • Adult women with OCD who have come to understand that they cannot support others until they give themselves the time and attention they need.
  • People with phobias (especially emetophobia- fear of vomiting) who are tired of how it impacts their life.

My training background and therapy approaches include:
I completed my bachelor’s degree in psychology from Illinois Wesleyan University and my master’s degree in social work from the University of Illinois at Chicago. I have been a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) since 2009 and in the past worked in foster care and with girls exiting sex trafficking. While working in foster care I discovered my passion for individual therapy, especially working with teens, tweens and adult women.

I specialize in the treatment of OCD and anxiety related disorders including social anxiety, generalized anxiety, phobias, panic, separation anxiety, and body focused repetitive behaviors such as trichotillomania (hair pulling) and excoriation disorder (skin picking). I am also trained in EMDR (eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing) which is an evidence-based treatment for trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I have over eight years of experience specializing in the treatment of anxiety and OCD.

How I help:
My style is open and collaborative. I welcome questions and work hard to ensure that my clients feel seen and understood. My goal is to help clients take skills and strategies learned in session and use them independently. I firmly believe that therapy is an investment in the future, even though it’s hard work now. Most things that are worthwhile in life are not easy and this is no exception!

More about me:
In my free time, I enjoy curling up with a cup of tea and a good book, listening to live music, taking walks in the park, playing with my dog and watching HGTV.

Maria Cognata

Maria Cognata

She/her

Ages I work with:
Adults, teens, children

Languages I speak:
English, Spanish
(I can do sessions in Spanish if that is the client’s preferred language.)

Who I am:
I use she/her pronouns.

I love working with:

  • Kids 8 to 12 struggling with OCD and repetitive negative thoughts.
  • Young adults and adults with contamination, symmetry/balance, and existential OCD.
  • Young adults, and adults with generalized anxiety or health anxiety.

 All identities, cultures, and backgrounds are welcome and supported in my office.

My training background and therapy approaches include:
I earned my bachelor’s degree in sociology and international studies at Saint Louis University and my master’s degree in social work with a concentration in clinical mental health at the Brown School at Washington University in Saint Louis. I completed my social work clinical internship at the Multicultural Counseling and Research Center and at the same time formed part of the Casa de Salud Mental Health Collaborative. When working with clients, I offer a holistic approach that considers the ways in which biology, upbringing, culture, systems, and trauma can influence thoughts and behaviors. While considering the importance of each of these factors, I also strive to provide the client with concrete tools and strategies to help them reach their goals.

My approach is drawn from the theoretical framework of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and includes tools and strategies taken from Exposure and Response Prevention, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

How I help:
I am open, non-judgmental, easygoing, and empathetic. I want clients to feel comfortable to bring their authentic selves to sessions with me and utilize a strengths-based perspective, meaning I believe that everyone I work with has strengths to build upon. I see clients as the experts of their own lives and therapy as a collaborative process. I know that the healing process is a journey that is not always linear and that it is helpful to have someone who can accompany you through the ups and downs. I will offer practical tools and strategies to help the client live a better quality of life based on their goals and walk beside them as they explore what works best for them. My goal is to provide clients with solution-focused ways in which they can better manage their distress both in and outside of the office while also celebrating their progress along the journey.

More about me:
In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, being outdoors, gardening, reading, listening to music and podcasts, and learning new things.

sarah

Sarah Kertz, PhD

Owner and Director of Anxiety Specialists of St. Louis
She/her

Ages I work with:
18+ years

Languages I speak:
 English

Who I am:
I’m a cisgender, heterosexual White female. I use she/her pronouns.

I love working with:

  • Pregnant women or moms with a new baby experiencing scary thoughts or OCD symptoms.
  • Moms coping with anxiety and depression associated with pregnancy and new parenthood.
  • Moms in their 30s and 40s who feel stressed and overwhelmed trying to balance parenting, work, a partner, and running a household.
  • Women with phobias of throwing up (emetophobia), driving, bugs, dentists or other specific situations.

My training background and therapy approaches include:
I earned my PhD in clinical psychology in 2011 from the University of Louisville. I completed my predoctoral internship and postdoctoral fellowship at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical school. I then worked for 8 years primarily teaching and supervising doctoral students in clinical psychology and undergraduate psychology majors. I also directed a research lab, published over 35 peer reviewed articles, and over 100 conference presentations. I moved to full time clinical work in 2020.

I also have advanced training in Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders, including postpartum depression, anxiety, and OCD.

My general approaches include cognitive behavioral therapy, inference based therapy for OCD, exposure and response prevention, mindfulness and acceptance.

How I help:
My  style is down to earth and focused on your progress. I try to balance support with firmness when it’s helpful. In session I teach  practical strategies to cope with anxiety so you can reach meaningful goals. I use a  structured approach and ask my clients to complete homework assignments between sessions and to track their progress. Most of the work happens outside of our meetings. I  love to celebrate successes with a “yay!” I’m impressed every day by my client’s bravery and vulnerability.

More about me:
In my free time I enjoy planning trips (and taking them–but the planning is at least half the fun), talking about cats, spending time with my three-year old at local playgrounds, baking French cakes, and working on craft projects.