We are accepting new clients during the COVID 19 Pandemic.
Services are provided through a virtual office via secure video.
Dr. Jessica Berntson
Dr. Berntson is the founder of Health + Anxiety Psychology Practice. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and is a Registered Psychologist with the College of Alberta Psychologists. She has published in scientific journals, received awards for her research, taught university courses, and given various presentations over the course of her career.
Dr. Berntson has provided evidence-based psychological services to adults in various hospitals and private clinics in Canada and the United States, including the Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg, St Boniface Hospital, Victoria General Hospital, Indiana University Medical Center, Indiana Polyclinic, and Southport Psychology. With a background in clinical health psychology, her specialty is working with health-related anxiety, distress, and dysfunction which commonly occurs in persons with OCD and compulsive conditions, anxiety and stress disorders, somatic symptom disorders, sleep disorders, and functional medical conditions.
Dr. Berntson takes a collaborative approach with each client to select scientifically supported treatments best suited to them and their presenting difficulties. She then provides these therapies in a warm and friendly manner so that her clients feel comfortable and respected throughout the treatment process. This approach provides clients with tailored therapeutic principles and practices to overcome current challenges and maintain long-term wellbeing.
Health + Anxiety Psychology Practice offers psychological assessment and treatment for adults (ages 18+) with various concerns.
We specialize in health and anxiety related difficulties. These general areas of expertise include OCD and other compulsive disorders, anxiety and stress related disorders, somatic symptom and related disorders, sleep disorders, and functional medical conditions. Some of the specific conditions we treat are described in the boxes below.
OCD and Other Compulsive Disorders
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Unwanted and intrusive thoughts, urges, and images (obsessions) and attempts to ignore, get rid of, or neutralize these experiences through a thought or action (compulsions). Obsessions can include topics of contamination, harm, sensorimotor, self-control, "just-right", sin/morality, sexuality. Compulsions can include cleaning, checking, counting, arranging, repeating.
Body Focused Repetitive Behaviours (BFRBs)
BFRBs are a cluster of compulsive and habitual behaviours that include hair pulling (trichotillomania), skin picking (excoriation), nail biting, nose picking, and lip or cheek biting. These conditions may or may not occur alongside compulsive consumption of the hair, skin, nails, etc.
Anxiety and Stress Related Disorders
Specific and Social Phobias
Excessive fear of certain objects or situations (e.g., fear of blood or medical procedures, fear of body dysfunctioning [choking, vomiting, incontinence], fear of social situations [e.g., shy bladder])
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Excessive anxiety or worry about a range of topics
Abrupt onset of intense fear, discomfort, and somatic symptoms
Separation Anxiety Disorder
Excessive fear or anxiety concerning separation from others
PTSD and Stressor Related Disorders
Prolonged distress reactions that are precipitated by stress/trauma
and Related Disorders
Illness Anxiety Disorder (hypochondriasis or health anxiety)
Worries that you (or a loved one) may have or could acquire a serious disease or illness (e.g., heart disease, neurological condition, cancer)
Somatic Symptom Disorder
Distress and preoccupation with one or more physical symptoms (e.g., heart palpitations, chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea and abdominal discomfort, difficulty swallowing/dry mouth, headaches, dizziness, numbness/tingling, fatigue, trembling/shaking, poor concentration, blurred vision)
Functional Neurological Symptom Disorder (FNSD)
Symptoms of altered motor or sensory function (e.g., weakness or paralysis, abnormal movement/seizures, swallowing or speech symptoms, anesthesia or sensory loss) that are incompatible with other neurological conditions
Sleep and Functional Medical Conditions
Problems or distress with sleep. Common sleep difficulties include insomnia (problems initiating, staying, or poor quality sleep), unwanted sleep behaviours (sleep walking, talking, eating) and experiences (sleep paralysis, recurrent nightmares, hypnogogic hallucinations), hypersomnolence (excessive sleepiness), circadian rhythm disorders, discomfort or claustrophobia with sleep breathing devices.
Functional Medical Conditions
Medical symptoms or syndromes that are idiopathic (of unknown cause) despite having clear dysfunction of the related system (e.g., gastrointestinal system). Example syndromes include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), interstitial cystitis (IC)/bladder pain syndrome (BPS), and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Functional symptoms without a syndrome are often called medically unexplained symptoms (MUS).
Health + Anxiety Psychology Practice uses online therapy technology to provide services across Alberta. Online therapy services are provided through secure and encrypted video designed for health care professions. To attend an online session, clients simply click on a website link provided to them.
We provide modern psychological medicine. Our approach uses biopsychosocial assessment methods, evidence based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and specialized CBT tools for health and anxiety. These components are detailed in the boxes below.
Biopsychosocial Assessment Methods
Our assessment considers biological, psychological, and social/environmental factors relevant to each client.
Initial information is collected through intake forms. Then, clients attend an initial assessment mainly comprised of clinical interview. Following this first session, clients may also be asked to complete questionnaires relevant to their specific concerns and/or approve for us to communicate with their other medical providers.
This comprehensive approach enables more accurate and reliable diagnosis and treatment planning.
Evidence Based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT is the most researched form of psychotherapy. This large body of research suggests that CBT is an effective approach for treating a wide range of concerns and is especially supported for the health and anxiety conditions we treat.
CBT helps clients to better understand how their thoughts, feelings, physical sensation, and behaviours all interact.
After gaining a better understanding of their condition, we take a collaborative approach with clients to select scientifically supported CBT tools that are best suited to them and their specific difficulties.
Specialized CBT Tools for Health and Anxiety
Exposure Therapy (imaginal, in-vivo, and interoceptive)
Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)
Habit Reversal Training (HRT)
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I)
Paradoxical Intention (PI)
Relaxation Skills (e.g., progressive muscle relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing)
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT)
Motivational Interviewing (MI)
Click on the link below to book an online session. After booking you will receive an email containing a link to complete intake forms on our secure patient portal.
For all other inquiries or questions please email or fill out the contact form below.