Christoph Leonhard

Chris Leonhard

Department Chair
  • Professor
    Clinical Psychology

  • The Chicago School Chicago
Xavier Partnership
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Office Location
Office Phone
On-campus Ext.

Dr. Leonhard's areas of clinical and research interests include behavior therapy and behavior medicine with a variety of adult populations, including persons with mental retardation, severe mental illness, mood and anxiety disorders, and substance addiction. Dr. Leonhard has prior experience as a therapist for the Anxiety Treatment Center. He worked as a consultant with agencies providing residential and vocational services to persons with severe mental illness and with residential substance abuse facilities. He also has experience working with Native Americans in Nevada and Idaho, inner city substance using homeless persons in Boston, and intercultural communication between Japanese and European-Americans. Dr. Leonhard's research background includes overseeing a behavior analysis lab and serving as project director on a federal substance abuse grant. Dr Leonhard currently works as a consultant in the area of physical activity promotion in sedentary office work environments. He has graduate teaching experience in behavior therapy, statistics and research methods, ethics and the law, adult development, and in behavioral medicine. Dr. Leonhard graduated from the University of Nevada-Reno in 1994.

  • B.Sc. in Psychology, St. Mary's University-Halifax, N.S., Canada
  • M.A., University of Nevada-Reno
  • Ph.D., University of Nevada-Reno
  • June 2003 to present- American Board of Professional Psychology: Board Certification in Behavioral Psychology by the ABPP
  • 1998 May to present- State of Illinois: Clinical Psychologist. License Number: 071-005630
Areas Of Expertise

Select Presentations

  • Carr., L. J., Muscher, P. J., & Leonhard, C. (2012). Acceptability and Feasibility of LifeBalance Station® for Reducing Sedentary Time in the Workplace. Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the Society for Behavioral Medicine in New Orleans, LA.  
  • Stephens, J., & Leonhard, C. (2012). Gender, Age, and Racial Differences in Cancer Survivors who Engage in Psychosocial Services: A Program Evaluation. Paper presented at the Meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL. 
  • Hoberman, M., & Leonhard, C. (2012). Exploring the Relationship between Religious Internalization and Mental Health among Orthodox Jews; A Quantitative Analysis. Paper presented at the Meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL.  
  • Weidner, K., & Leonhard, C. (2012). Identifying facial expressions: Is there an association with age and gender? . Paper presented at the Meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL.  
  • Aston-Lebold, M., & Leonhard, C. (2011). The Experience of Psycholgoical Sense of Community on Facebook and Twitter. Paper presented at the Eighty-Third Annual Convention of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL 
  • Freedman, N., & Leonhard, C. (2011). Intimate Partner Violence Prevention in the Orthodox Jewish Community: A Program Development and Evaluation. Paper presented at the Eighty-Third Annual Convention of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL 
  • Kean, M., & Leonhard, C. (2011). The Role of Self-Stigma in Engendering Treatment Outcomes. Paper presented at the Eighty-Third Annual Convention of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL 
  • Given, A., & Leonhard, C. (2011). Mentoring and Job Satisfaction Among Professional Psychology Interns: Is there a Link?. Paper presented at the Eighty-Third Annual Convention of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL 
  • Schmitt, E., & Leonhard, C. (2011). Graduate Students' Perception of Stress, Engagement, Social Support, and Coping. Paper presented at the Eighty-Third Annual Convention of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL  
  • Leonhard, C. (2010). Die Therapeutische Beziehung im Verlauf des Therapieprozesses [The Therapeutic Relationship over the Course of the Therapeutic Process. Invited paper presented at the annual convention of the Institut fuer Verhaltenstherapie und Sexuology in Erlangen, Germany.

Select Publications

  • Taft, T.H., Keefer L., Leonhard C, & Nealon-Woods, M. (2009). Impact of perceived stigma on inflammatory bowel disease patient outcomes. Inflamatory Bowel Diseases, 15, 1224-1232. 
  • Reinke, R.R,, Corrigan, P.W., Leonhard, C., Lundin, R.K., & Kubiak, M.A. (2004). Examining two aspects of contact on the stigma of mental illness. Journal of Social and Cinical Psychology, 23, 377-389. 
  • Leonhard, C., & Corrigan, P. W. (2001). Social perception in schizophrenia. In P. W. Corrigan, & D. L. Penn (Eds.) Social cognition and schizophrenia. (pp. 73-95). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association 
  • Leonhard, C., Mulvey, K. P., Gastfriend, D. R., Schwartz, M., & Wei, H. (2000). The Addiction Severity Index: A field study of reliability and validity. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment,18, 129-135.

Community Involvement

  • 2012- Ad-hoc reviewer for the Journal of Physical Activity and Health 
  • 2010 – present- Examiner for the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) for the examination for board certification in Behavior Therapy 
  • 2006- Ad-hoc reviewer for the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 
  • 2004 – 2005- Vice-president of the Chicago Association for Behavior Analysis (CABA)
  • 1998 - 2002- August Elected by the trustees of the Village of River Forest to sit on the River Forest Mental Health Committee

Professional Memberships

  • Midwestern Psychological Association (MPA)
  • American Psychological Association (APA)
  • Association for Behavior Analysis (ABA)
  • Association for Behavior and Cognitive Therapy (ABCT)


Q: Please describe your teaching philosophy.
A: In my teaching, I aim to present state-of-the-art information on the topic while at the same time allowing students to integrate the material into their world-view and clinical work. To that end, I believe in teaching a somewhat smaller quantity of material, aiming instead for greater depth of processing. In many of the academically-oriented courses, I use a divide-and-conquer approach to help students master technical information. I break the material down into a set of study questions for each week. I enhance student motivation to work on study questions by basing about 50% of the grade on study question-related performance. This has the additional effect of spreading out work in my courses over the entire semester, so that I am not competing as much with other instructors for student attention, especially during mid-term and finals times. In addition to mastering the basics of the field, I incorporate a way for students to develop more in-depth knowledge in an issue of special interest to them which relates to the topic of the course. This takes the form of an annotated bibliography, a paper, a class presentation, a book report, or a combination of these. While developing mastery of technical information, I never lose sight of the need for students to relate information to their own lives in general and to their professional practice in particular. My motivation in so doing is based largely on research findings demonstrating (1) superior recall for information that is related to one's own self and (2) increased ability to apply information when learning in in-vivo or applied in-vitrio situations. With these goals in mind, I try to create an atmosphere in class that encourages the applied use of theoretical/empirical material. I do this by requiring students to incorporate personal examples into the answers to the study questions and through classroom discussions, student presentations, role-plays, use of evocative audio-visuals, etc. In more advanced courses and seminars, I use a more student-focused approach. I allow many more options for individual learning to meet the individual needs of the more advance learner. For example, students choose their own therapy and play out a full course of treatment as a therapist and another full course of treatment as a client. In the proposal development seminar, every student's project is different and the content of the course is about 95% different for each student. I see my role in those classes as creating a structure to facilitate individual learning and to accompany and evaluate such learning on an ongoing basis. Evaluation then is based completely on work products that the students choose for themselves. I use a learning contract format to assure timely delivery of worthwhile learning products.

Q: Why did you choose to enter the field of psychology?
A: I am not sure if I chose psychology or if it chose me. I also find it a lot easier to talk about how I grew into the field than why. I started as a teenager reading Sigmund Freud to try and figure out my life and my problems. At the same time, I was very much interested in the environmental consciousness movement in Germany in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Finding Freud of not much help with my teenage worries and discovering that the roots of Waldsterben had less to do with science and more with psychology and politics, I signed up for a psychology major upon entering Concordia University in Montreal (having just graduated from a vocational high school with an emphasis in Forestry and Wildlife - no, not that kind). Upon transferring to St. Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, I happened to get lucky and got mentored by a behavior analyst. I ran the rat lab for a year and generally took any and everything having to do with psychology. At the same time I was working toward a degree in computer science. When approaching graduation, I felt it was better for me to stay with psychology, primarily because I didn't like hanging out in the computer lab too much and I felt I would end up an isolated egghead if I stayed with computer science. But before I could pursue my graduate school plans, my service deferments had run out as I had to move back to Germany to serve for 20 months as a conscientious objector. The work I did in a residential facility for mentally retarded and chronically mentally ill men was a revelation. I got to try all of my favorite behavioral techniques on real people and some amazing successes (e.g. getting an elderly man to walk unassisted by use of a fading procedure who had not walked unassisted in the 20 years he had been at the facility). So that's all the convincing I needed to go to graduate school in clinical psychology. The rest, as they say, is history. :-)

Q: What advice would you give to a student entering The Chicago School?
A: One aspect I particularly value about The Chicago School is that you don't have to give up who you are as the price of admission to the school. So the most general advice would be not to forget who you are and what interested you in this training in the first place, while at the same time making sure you learn everything you need to truly self-actualize as a professional.