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Amanda Bruening, PhD

  • Clinical Psychologist, Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology
  • Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics



My parents were confused when I told them I was planned on studying Ancient Greek and Archaeology in college. However, my dreams of being Indiana Jones took a new form after enrolling in a seminar on Eating Disorders within the psychology department. I was stunned to learn how social and cultural ideals could tarnish our most intimate relationship — that with our own body. Not to mention, experiencing dissatisfaction with our bodies is considered a “normal” experience! This striking interplay between culture, biology and the psyche continues to fuel my passion for the field after all these years.

As a clinical psychologist, I specialize in assessing and treating eating and weight-related disorders across development. I have worked with children, adolescents and young adults with eating pathology both at inpatient and outpatient levels of care. I pride myself in having received extensive training in evidence-based treatments, including Enhanced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Family-Based (Maudsley) treatment. I complement these gold-standard treatments with Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). This transdiagnostic treatment emphasizes learning skills to tolerate intense emotional distress, regulating everyday emotional experiences and improving communication.

The key tenets of my approach to treatment focus on fostering open communication and connection in order to create a collaborative therapeutic environment. My ultimate goal is to assist you and your family in getting back to life as you knew it. While I bring the tips and tricks, I view parents as the experts on their child and family culture. It‘s important that we work together to achieve common goals and to implement a culturally-responsive treatment plan to address your family’s unique needs.

Throughout my training and provision of clinical care, my experiences have highlighted the unique intersection of disordered eating and substance use. Though girls have historically been less likely to initiate substance use than their male peers, recent research has shown this is no longer true in today’s society. Adolescent girls may escalate their substance use quicker and experience greater negative outcomes sooner than their male peers.

Despite these emerging trends, prevention and intervention programs often overlook substance use in girls. Few have targeted the specific pathways or motivators, such as using substances to achieve weight-related goals. To this end, much of my published work has centered on understanding how these behaviors emerge and develop in relation to one another over the course of development for the sake of informing intervention efforts.

When I am not working, I love to plan my family’s next adventure — whether it be exploring a new record store downtown or a multi-day hike in the Grand Canyon. I’m an avid football fan and can be found cheering for my alma mater or the Bengals most weekends. In the off-season, I attest to being a proud homebody who enjoys gardening, reading and watching true crime documentaries and reality TV.

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Contextual influences on subjective alcohol response. Corbin, WR; Hartman, JD; Bruening, AB; Fromme, K. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology. 2021; 29:48-58.

Overall Mental Health and Misuse of Erectile Dysfunction Medication Among Sexual Minority Men. Bruening, A; Perez, M; Josephs, J. Substance Use and Misuse. 2019; 54:1825-1833.

Compensatory behaviors among racial and ethnic minority undergraduate women. Bruening, AB; Perez, M. Eating Disorders. 2019; 27:123-136.

The association between program credibility, expectancy, and acceptability with baseline pathology and outcome for a body acceptance prevention program. Stinson, EJ; Perez, M; Ohrt, TK; Von Schell, A; Bruening, AB. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 2018; 74:2161-2172.

Measurement equivalence of child feeding and eating measures across gender, ethnicity, and household food security. Perez, M; Ohrt, TK; Bruening, AB; Taylor, AB; Liew, J; Kroon Van Diest, AM W; Ungredda, T. BMC Obesity. 2018; 5.

Rates of Disordered Eating Behaviors Across Sexual Minority Undergraduate Men and Women. Von Schell, A; Ohrt, TK; Bruening, AB; Perez, M. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity. 2018; 5:352-359.

Exploring weight control as motivation for illicit stimulant use. Bruening, AB; Perez, M; Ohrt, TK. Eating Behaviors. 2018; 30:72-75.

Development and validation of makeup and sexualized clothing questionnaires. Smith, H; Perez, M; Sladek, MR; Becker, CB; Ohrt, TK; Bruening, AB. Journal of Eating Disorders. 2017; 5.

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