Keith D Renshaw

Keith D Renshaw

Keith D Renshaw


Anxiety, stress/trauma reactions, and interpersonal relationships, with a particular focus on romantic relationships in which one partner has experienced a traumatic event.

Keith D. Renshaw, Ph.D. is Department Chair and Professor of Psychology at George Mason University. He received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2003. He was an Assistant Professor at the University of Utah from 2005-2009, before joining the faculty at George Mason University in the fall of 2009.

Dr. Renshaw specializes in anxiety, stress/trauma, and interpersonal relationships, with a particular focus on romantic relationships in which one individual has experienced a trauma. Much of this work has focused on the experiences of service members/veterans and their families. He has received over $2 million in extramural funding as PI or co-I to support his research. In addition, he has more than 70 peer-reviewed publications and 150 conference presentations, and he has given numerous invited talks on these and other topics.

Dr. Renshaw’s clinical expertise is in cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders and cognitive-behavioral couples’ therapy. He has performed clinical work in a variety of settings, including outpatient clinics, inpatient hospitals, schools, and VA Medical Centers. He has also supervised numerous graduate students in the delivery of cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety, depression, and couples’ problems.

Dr. Renshaw has also won multiple teaching awards, including the George Mason University Teaching Excellence Award (2015). In addition to classroom teaching, he is heavily devoted to the mentorship of doctoral students. Under his supervision, his students have received nearly $200,000 in extramural funding, published over 30 peer-reviewed publications, and made over 50 presentations at national conferences. Further information about his work with graduate students is here.

Dr. Renshaw is also an active member of George Mason's Faculty Senate. He served as Chair of the Faculty Senate and, in this role, as the Faculty Representative to the Board of Visitors from 2016-2019. He has also been chair and co-chair of the Faculty Matters Committee and a member of the Senate Executive Committee, and a faculty representative to various subcommittees of the Board of Visitors. In these roles, he strives to strongly represent the voice and needs of the faculty to others both within and external to George Mason.

Current Research

My research focuses on reactions to trauma and the interpersonal context of stress/trauma reactions, anxiety, and mood. The bulk of my research in this area has been devoted to understanding individuals’ and couples’ reactions to deployment in general, and to symptoms of combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in particular, in military couples. More recently, I have begun to focus on other types of trauma (e.g., sexual assault), and non-traumatic stressors (e.g., deployment).

In collaboration with other researchers, I recently completed data collection from more than 250 Army couples over 1½ to 2 years, with 5 separate time points. There are a large number of measures regarding PTSD and family functioning. Although this project will no longer provide funding for any of my graduate students as RAs, there are many papers and presentations that will come out of these data.

As a newer area, I have recently partnered with one of the other faculty members here at Mason, Christy Esposito-Smythers, on a project researching dissemination and implementation through a training institute for our county’s mental health workers. This is a 2.5-year project that started in Dec 2017, which involves developing training workshops for clinicians who work with adolescents (Year 1), children (Year 2), and adults (Year 3). We are also tracking outcomes of both the clinicians and (hopefully) their clients, as well as possible county-wide data to assess the economic impact of such trainings.

I have also begun to examine cultural differences in anxiety, responses to stress and trauma, and relationships. Last year, I had a Fulbright Scholar from Pakistan working with me, and we are continuing to collaborate on cross-cultural studies. Our next study will examine differences in trauma appraisal and post-trauma reactions across individuals from Pakistan, individual from the U.S., and individuals from collectivistic cultures who are now living in the U.S. We may also include individuals from other countries in this study.

In addition, I have partnered with a faculty member in another area (Health Informatics) at Mason on a proposal to use “big data” to analyze suicide risk in veterans. If funded, this project will draw on data from VAs across the country to improve our understanding and prediction of suicide behavior in military veterans, with a particular focus on antidepressant prescription patterns.

Finally, I continue to conduct some research on romantic couples, communication, and mood/anxiety. A few years ago, my lab completed an observational study of couples’ interactions, in which couples completed a series of baseline questionnaires, and then came into the lab to engage in problem-solving interactions, which are recorded. Participants provided their impressions of the interactions immediately afterward, and in 30-second intervals while watching the videos back. Observational coding of the videos would allow moment-by-moment comparisons of objective ratings of behavior and subjective ratings of each partner.

Selected Publications

* denotes student under my supervision

*Campbell, S. B., & Renshaw, K. D. (2018). Posttraumatic stress disorder and relationship functioning: A comprehensive review and organizational framework. Clinical Psychology Review, 65, 152-162.

     † Authors contributed equally to this manuscript, and are regarded as co-first authors.

*DiMauro, J., Renshaw, K. D., & Blais, R. K. (2018). Sexual vs. non-sexual trauma, sexual satisfaction and function, and mental health in female veterans. Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, 19, 403-416.

*Campbell, S. B., Renshaw, K. D., Kashdan, T. B., Curby, T. W., & Carter, S. P. (2017). A daily diary study of posttraumatic stress disorder and romantic partner accommodation. Behavior Therapy, 48, 222-234.

*Carter, S. P., & Renshaw, K. D. (2016). Spousal communication during military deployments: A review. Journal of Family Issues, 37, 2309-2332.

Courses Taught

PSYC 100: Basic Concepts in Psychology

PSYC 862: Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Adults


Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 2003
M.A., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1998
B.S., Duke University 1995

Recent Presentations

* denotes student under my supervision

*Giff, S. T., Renshaw, K. D., & Allen, E. S. (2018, November). Post-deployment parenting in military couples: Associations with PTSD. In J. Biesen & B. Wang (Chairs), Cognitions, behaviors, and emotions across the romantic relationship life span: Assessing relational conflict competencies using novel methodology. Symposium presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, Washington, D. C.

*Paige, L., Renshaw, K. D., & Allen, E. S. (2017, November). The role of posttraumatic emotions in the association of deployment experiences and PTSD. In K. D. Renshaw & L. Paige (Chairs), Diversity of response to trauma and to trauma-focused treatment. Symposium presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, San Diego, CA.

Renshaw, K. D., & Allen, E. S. (2017, August). Soldiers’ PTSD symptoms, partners’ satisfaction, and partners’ attributions. In R. K. Blais (Chair), Novel research on couples’ functioning in male and female veterans – Implications for treatment. Symposium presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.

Renshaw, K. D., *Campbell, S. B., Meis, L., & Erbes, C. (2016, June). Gender differences in the associations of PTSD symptom clusters with relationship distress in U.S. Vietnam veterans and their partners. In C. L. Collins (Chair), The unique ecological niches of men and women in relation to U.S. military service. Symposium presented at the annual meeting of the Work and Family Researchers Network, Washington, DC.

In the Media

Research Coverage

Dissemination & Implementation Project - Fairfax County News Aug 26, 2018

Dissemination & Implementation Project - Mason News Jun 4, 2018

PTSD & Couples - Mason News Mar 24, 2016

Faculty Senate Coverage

Washington Post Oct 15, 2018

Washington Post Oct 10, 2018

WTOP May 4, 2018


Blog Posts 2015

Association of the US Army 2015

Army Times 2015

Dissertations Supervised

Lauren Camille Paige, Living with PTSD Symptoms: A Comprehensive Exploration of Functioning Reports and Symptom Interpretation (2020)

Sarah Carter, Protective Buffering by Service Members and Romantic Partners During Military Deployments: Associations with Mental and Relationship Health (2017)

Jennifer DiMauro, Post-trauma Relationship Processes and Trauma-related Disclosure in Female Survivors of Sexual Assault (2017)

Sarah Burns Campbell, A Daily Study of PTSD and Interpersonal Processes (2015)

Hilary Weingarden, Anxiety and Shame as Risk Factors for Depression, Suicidality, and Functional Impairment in Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (2015)

Sarah Klein, Emotion Regulation and Perceptions of Hostile and Constructive Criticism in Romantic Relationships (2015)

Jeffrey Bergmann, Psychological Well-Being in Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans: A Broader Model of Risk and Protective Factors (2014)