JoAnn Difede, Ph.D.

Child and Adolescent Psychology
JoAnn Difede

JoAnn Difede, Ph.D., is a Professor, Department of Psychiatry at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, an Attending Psychologist at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, and Director of the Program for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Studies (PATSS). She is internationally recognized for her pioneering work using virtual reality technology in the treatment of PTSD consequent to the WTC attack of September 11, 2001, and more recently in the treatment of combat-related PTSD. Dr. JoAnn Difede is currently serving as the lead PI of a large multi-site Department of Defense funded clinical trial contract entitled, "Enhancing Exposure Therapy for PTSD: Virtual Reality and Imaginal Exposure with a Cognitive Enhancer," which is investigating how the use of virtual reality and the pharmacologic agent, D-Cycloserine, may help accelerate recovery from combat-related PTSD among U.S. service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Difede has served as the PI of several NIH-funded treatment studies concerning the development of innovative treatments for PTSD. She is also the recipient of many grants and corporate medical contracts for projects concerning the delivery of optimal care for trauma survivors and their families, both from private foundations and publicly held Fortune 500 corporations. Her treatment research spans survivors of burn injuries, terrorism, and occupations at-risk for PTSD, including U.S. soldiers deployed to OIF/OEF/OND, firefighters, police officers, and disaster rescue and recovery workers.

Dr. Difede has advised many corporations, non-profit organizations, and governmental agencies in the U.S. and internationally regarding the implementation of best practices for the screening, evaluation, and treatment of trauma and PTSD. Dr. Difede has served on NIH special emphasis review panels on occupations at-risk for trauma and PTSD and CDMRP review panels, among others. She currently serves on the scientific advisory board of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) and the advisory board of the Jericho Project, a non-profit foundation serving homeless veterans. She recently completed a four-year term on the editorial advisory board of the Journal of Traumatic Stress.

Dr. Difede received the 2010 Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Practice of Trauma Psychology from the American Psychological Association’s Division of Trauma. In addition to her scholarly endeavors, her work has been featured in many popular media venues including the New Yorker, the NY Times, Newsweek, the Washington Post, Scientific American, and many television programs, including a recent appearance on Charlie Rose: The Brain Series’ episode on PTSD, CNN, NBC, and ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. Notably, she was featured in New York magazine’s Best Doctors issue in 2005 for her work developing a virtual reality-based treatment for WTC related-PTSD, and was profiled in The Lancet in September 2011, for the tenth anniversary of the WTC attacks, for her work developing innovative treatments for PTSD.

To schedule appointments:

Call (212) 746-3079 or (212) 821-0783


Insurance Plans Accepted

The following represents most of the managed care plans accepted by this physician. If your insurance carrier does not appear here please contact the physician’s office as they may have individual contracts not included on this site.

* indicates this physician is no longer accepting new patients with this insurance plan.

  • Aetna - Weill Cornell [POS]
  • Medicaid
  • Medicare
  • Rockefeller University - CoreSource


Select Recently Published Journal Articles

Rizzo A, Buckwalter G, Forbell E, Reist C, Difede J, Rothbaum B, Lange B, Koenig S, Talbot T. Virtual Reality Applications to Address the Wounds of War. Psychiatric Annals, 43(3): 123-138, 2013.

McLay RN, Graap K, Spira J, Perlman K, Johnston S, Rothbaum BO, Difede J, Deal W, Oliver D, Baird A, Bordnick PS, Spitalnick J, Pyne JM, Rizzo A. Development and testing of virtual reality exposure therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder in active duty service members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Military Medicine, 177(6): 635-642, 2012.

Cukor J, Wyka K, Mello B, Olden M, Jayasinghe N, Roberts J, Giosan C, Crane M, Difede J. The longitudinal course of PTSD among disaster workers deployed to the World Trade Center following the attacks of September 11th. Special Issue: The September 11th 2001 Terrorist Attacks: Ten Years After. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 24(5): 506-514, 2011.

Rizzo AA, Lange B, Buckwalter JG, Forbell E, Kim J, Sagae K, Williams J, Rothbaum BO, Difede J, Reger G, Parsons T, Kenny P. An intelligent virtual human system for providing healthcare information and support. Studies in Health Technology & Informatics, 163: 503-509, 2011.

Rizzo A, Parsons TD, Lange B, Kenny P, Buckwalter JG, Rothbaum B, Difede J, Frazier J, Newman B, Williams J, Reger G. Virtual Reality Goes to War: A Brief Review of the Future of Military Behavioral Healthcare. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, 18(2): 176-187, 2011.

Cukor J, Wyka K, Jayasinghe N, Weathers F, Giosan C, Leck P, Roberts J, Spielman L, Crane M, Difede J. Prevalence and Predictors of Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms in Utility Workers Deployed to the World Trade Center Following the Attacks of September 11, 2001. Depression and Anxiety, 28(3): 210-217, 2011.

Reger G, Holloway K, Candy C, Rothbaum BO, Difede J, Rizzo A, Gahm G. Effectiveness of Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy for Active Duty Soldiers in a Military Mental Health Clinic. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 24(1): 93-96, 2011.


Cukor J, Wyka K, Jayasinghe N, Difede J.￯﾿ᄑ@ The nature and course of subthreshold PTSD.￯﾿ᄑ@ Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 24(8): 918-23, 2010.

Difede J, Barchas JD: Psychiatric and neurologic aspects of war: An overview and perspective. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1208: 1-9, 2010.

Cukor J, Olden M, Lee FS, Difede J: Evidence-based treatments for PTSD, new directions, and special challenges. Annals of the NY Academy of Science, 1208: 82-89, 2010.

Olden M, Cukor J, Rizzo S, Rothbaum BO, Difede J: House Calls Revisited: Leveraging Technology to Overcome Obstacles to Psychiatric Care and Improve Treatment Outcomes. Annals of the NY Academy of Science, 1208: 133-141, 2010.

Gerardi M, Cukor J, Difede J, Rizzo A, Rothbaum B.￯﾿ᄑ@ Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy for￯﾿ᄑ@Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and￯﾿ᄑ@Other Anxiety Disorders.￯﾿ᄑ@ Current Psychiatry Reports, 12(4): 298-305, 2010.￯﾿ᄑ@

Book Chapters

Leaman S, Rothbaum BO, Difede J, Cukor J, Gerardi M, Rizzo A. Treating Combat-Related PTSD With Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy. In A. Rubin, E. L. Weiss, & J. E. Coll (Eds.), Handbook of Military Social Work, 113-140. John Wiley and Sons, 2012.

Roy MJ, Rizzo A, Difede J, Rothbaum BO. Emerging and Alternative Therapies for PTSD.
In D. Benedek, G. H. Wynn (Eds.), Clinical Manual for the Management of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc., 2010.

Rothbaum BO, Difede J, Rizzo AA. Therapist Treatment Manual for Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Iraq Combat Veterans, Geneva Foundation, 2009.

Difede J, Cukor J: Evidence based long-term treatment of mental health consequences of disasters among adults. In Y. Neria, S. Galea, F. Norris (Eds.), Mental Health Consequences of Disaster. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Rizzo A, Gahm G, Reger G, Difede J, Rothbaum B: Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy for Combat-related PTSD. In P. Shiromani, T. Keane, & J. LeDoux (Eds.), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Basic Science and Clinical Practice, 375-399. New Jersey: Humana Press, 2009.

Difede J, Roberts J, Jayasinghe N, Leck P: Evaluation and treatment of firefighters and utility workers following the World Trade Center attacks. In Y. Neria, R. Gross, R. Marshall, & E. Susser (Eds.), 9/11: Mental Health in the Wake of Terrorist Attacks. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Difede J, Cukor J, Jayasinghe N, Hoffman H: Developing a virtual reality treatment protocol for posttraumatic stress disorder following the World Trade Center attack. In Roy, MJ (Ed.) NATO Security through Science: Novel Approaches to the Diagnosis and Treatment of PTSD. IDS Press, 2006.

Difede J: Acute psychiatric responses to the explosion at the World Trade Center: A case series. In Kushner H (Ed.), Essential readings on political terrorism: analyses of problems and prospects for the 21st century. New York: Gordian Knot Books, 2002.


Honors and Awards

Aaron Diamond Fellowship Award, 1992 – 1995

National Institutes of Mental Health Loan Repayment Program, Research Award, 2004 – 2007 

American Psychological Association, Division 58 Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Practice of Trauma Psychology, 2010