Dr. Jensen's research programs address critical child mental health-related areas, that shed light on the optimal methods for treating Childhood Mental Disorders, and ensures that these new, optimal methods actually are applied in "the real world" so that children with mental health problems get optimal care as soon as it is needed. For these reasons, his studies also focus on developing tools and methods that help parents and youth engage and participate as full "partners" with their doctors in mental health interventions. Relatedly, he studies methods for helping primary care providers learn and apply the latest proven diagnostic and treatment methods, using methods that have been show to help people change their day-to-day behaviors. Thus, not only must patients and families learn new behaviors, but doctors and other health care providers must also, if they are to stay up to date, and be ready to participate in partnerships and shared decision-making with parents and youth.

Focus areas

  • Optimal Treatments for Childhood Mental Disorders: ADHD, Aggressive behavior, Depression, and Anxiety Disorders: Dr. Jensen's treatment research studies examine both the impact of psychotherapies and medications, often both essential to obtain optimal outcomes for children and youth
  • Development of tools and strategies that facilitate optimal parent and child engagement and participation in mental health interventions: Key emphases in these research programs are applying the concepts of "engagement" (quickly building strong, collaborative relationships with children and parents) and "empowerment" (activating parents and youth to become knowledgeable and assertive in seeking out the best care, and becoming increasingly expert on how to effectively and appropriately "take charge" of managing the child's mental health problems, and to work with health and educational professionals as an expert member of the overall team working together on the child's behalf
  • Development, Testing, and Application of Methods for Assisting Primary Care Providers in Practice Transformation, and delivering high quality child mental health services within primary care: Dr. Jensen's research activities in this area involve developing and evaluating high impact coaching methods that help primary providers to quickly develop high levels of competence and skill in diagnosing and managing common child mental health problems they often encounter. In this research, Dr. Jensen's research methods draw heavily from, and then applies findings from 3 other research fields: 1) basic behavioral science research studies about how and why people change; 2)cognitive and social neuroscience research that has shed light on how and why new information is stored in the brain, and how and when this new information actually leads to changes in behavior; and 3) methods and techniques from adult education studies
  • Studies of the long-term outcomes of child mental problems (ADHD, depression, etc.), and how children's outcomes are affected by treatments. While he served as the Associate Director, Children's Research, at the National Institute of Mental Health (1989-2000), Dr. Jensen initiated and/or led several key national studies of child mental health treatments. He continues to participate in the large, multi-university research programs, the longest of which has now continued for 16 years (focused on the optimal treatments and long-term outcomes of children with ADHD)

Significance to patient care:

All of Dr. Jensen's research programs seeks to demonstrate immediate improvement and impact on the "real-world" outcomes of children now, rather than in some future, hoped-for time. For this reasons, his treatment research tests the impact of treatments that well-trained doctors can deliver now, and begin actually changing the futures of children who see them. But this also requires the development of methods that actually assist parents and youth to accept, and fully participate in these treatments (through "engagement" and empowerment strategies, noted above), AND that also help doctors currently in practice accept their roles in providing these new treatments, become competent and skilled in delivering these treatments, and change their day-to-day practices so that they actually perform these new practices

Professional highlights

  • Member, Scientific Council, NAMI, 2007-present
  • President, The REACH Institute (Resource for Advancing Children's Health), 2007-present
  • Irving Philips Prevention Award, American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2011
  • Alumni Inductee, Alpha Omega Alpha, 2008
  • Editorial Board Memberships: Journal of Child & Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 1990-present; Development and Psychopathology, 1993-present; Journal of Attention Disorders, 1995-present; Biologic Psychiatry, 1997-present; J. Abnormal Child Psychology, 1998- present; World Journal of Clinical Pediatrics, 2011-present; World Journal of Translational Medicine, 2011-present



  1. Fellow - Child & Adolescent Psychiatry University of California, San Francisco
  2. Fellow - Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Letterman Army Medical Center, United States Army
  3. Resident - Psychiatry Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics, University of California, San Francisco
  4. Resident - Psychiatry Letterman Army Medical Center, United States Army
  5. Internship - Categorical Diversified (PGY-1) Letterman Army Medical Center, United States Army
  6. MD George Washington University School of Medicine
  7. BS - Psychology Brigham Young University

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