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Personal profile


Dr. Tara Donker is Associate Professor at the Department of Clinical Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and senior researcher at Albert-Ludwig University of Freiburg, Germany. She is a member of the Amsterdam Publich Health (APH) research institute. She is also a licensed Health Care Psychologist  and has a registration in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (VGCt). Her research focuses on early intervention and prevention of depression, anxiety and suicide, based on innovative technologies such as virtual reality and mobile apps. Her main goal is to make mental health care more accessible and scalable.

Her main focus of research currently is investigating the effectivity and user-friendliness of ZeroPhobia: a low-cost mobile app using virtual reality for specific phobias. Results from an RCT demonstrated large effect sizes for ZeroPhobia Acrophobia compared to a control group. Now, she will develop and testZeroPhobia Aviophobia.



  • Teacher: CBT seminar for master students clinical psychology
  • Teacher: clinical communication skills for bachelor students clinical psychology (2011)
  • Internship coordinator of low intensity treatment (caring universities)
  • Supervisor of bachelor- and (research)master thesis students
  • Lectures in clinical psychological treatments (CBT, IPT, mental health psychology)
  • Coordinator of bacholorthese (2012-2014)


Over the years she received multiple grants from NWO (including a personal grant "Aspasia"), Fonds NutsOhra, Fonds Psychische Gezondheid, VSB fonds for projects on innovative technologies such as virtual reality in the treatment of specific phobia and online interventions for caregivers of depressed patients. She has received an Aspasia grant to conduct research into virtual reality for psychiatric disorders.

Prizes and Awards

CBT Workshop by Aaron T. Beck and Judith Beck

Black Dog early career travel award

EMGO travel grant

Ancillary activities

  • GGZ inGeest | Amsterdam | Medewerker | 2014-12-01 - present

Ancillary activities are updated daily

Ancillary activities

Co-founder of ZeroPhobia, a start-up with a social mission to make mental health care more accessible and scalable. The following mobile apps based on CBT using VR/AR are developed or will be developed and tested  in the near future: fear of heights, fear of flying, fear of spiders. ZeroPhobia is a Spin-off of Vrije University. 

Ancillary activities

Senior Researcher at Freiburg University 


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