Dr. Karoline Sophie Sauer


02/2023 Dr. phil. in Psychology (equivalent to Ph.D.), Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz
Title: “New insights into the symptomatology and treatment of pathological health anxiety – Developments during the COVID-19 pandemic and novel exposure-based approaches” (summa cum laude)
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Michael Witthöft, Prof. Dr. Boris Egloff, Prof. Dr. Thomas Kubiak
Licensure for psychological psychotherapy (cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy, Goethe University, Frankfurt a.M.)
09/2016 Master of Science (M.Sc.) in psychology, Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz
09/2013 Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in psychology, Technische Universität, Dresden.

Academic and Clinical Positions

since 07/2021 Section leader for health anxiety, Outpatient Department of Psychotherapy, Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz
Since 03/2021 Study coordination in the Recruitment Center Mainz (behavior therapy) for the multi-center, BMBF-funded study ENHANCE (“PTSD in adults with violence and abuse in childhood”)
since 11/2020
Clinical psychologist, practice for psychotherapy (Offenbach a.M.) and outpatient department (treatment focus: pathological health anxiety, Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz)
since 06/2018 Research assistant, Department of Clinical Psychology, Psychotherapy & experimental Psychopathology, Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz
12/2016 - 05/2018 Psychological Training, Inpatient Clinic of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, SCIVIAS St. Valentinus-Krankenhaus, Bad Soden.
01/2012 - 02/2013 Student assistant, Institute of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy (ICPP), Technische Universität, Dresden


Teaching activity

Summer term 2021 Praxisseminar Psychotherapie (Master Klinische Psychologie und Psychotherapie)
Winter term 2020 / 2021 Klinische Psychologie I (Bachelor)




Sauer, K. S., Bailer, J., Jungmann, S. M., & Witthoft, M. (2023). Inhibitory Learning-Based Exposure Therapy for Patients With Pathological Health Anxiety: Results From a Single Case Series Study. COGNITIVE AND BEHAVIORAL PRACTICE, 30(4), 610-634. DOI
Sauer, K. S., Wendler-Boedicker, C., Boos, A., Niemeyer, H., Palmer, S., Rojas, R., Hoyer, J., & Hitzler, M. (2023). Treatment of Comorbid Disorders, Syndromes, and Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Related to Childhood Maltreatment with STAIR-NT Clinical Recommendations and Challenges. ZEITSCHRIFT FUR KLINISCHE PSYCHOLOGIE UND PSYCHOTHERAPIE, 52(2), 63-76. DOI


Rojas, R., Hitzler, M., Palmer, S., Sauer, K. S., Wendler-Bödicker, C., Boos, A., Hoyer, J., & Niemeyer, H. (2022). Komplexe Traumasymptomatik nach Missbrauch und Misshandlung in der Kindheit: Stärken und Herausforderungen des Therapieprogramms STAIR-NT. Verhaltenstherapie, 32(3), 117-127. DOI
Sauer, K. S., & Witthoeft, M. (2022). Inhibitory Learning versus Habituation in an Experimental Exposure Intervention for People With Heightened Health Anxiety: Increase of Distress Tolerance as a Joint Mechanism of Change?. JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOPATHOLOGY, 13(4). DOI
Sauer, K. S., Schmidt, A., Jungmann, S. M., Bailer, J., & Witthoft, M. (2022). Do patients with pathological health anxiety fear COVID-19? A time-course analysis of 12 single cases during the "first wave" of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany. JOURNAL OF PSYCHOSOMATIC RESEARCH, 152. DOI


Sauer, K. S., & Witthoeft, M. (2020). Illness Anxiety Disorder and Hypochondria. FORTSCHRITTE DER NEUROLOGIE PSYCHIATRIE, 88(11), 730-744. DOI
Sauer, K. S., & Witthöft, M. (2020). Krankheitsängste und Hypochondrische Störung. PSYCH up2date, 14(02), 151-166. DOI
Sauer, K. S., Jungmann, S. M., & Witthöft, M. (2020). Emotional and Behavioral Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Role of Health Anxiety, Intolerance of Uncertainty, and Distress (In)Tolerance. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(19), 7241-7241. DOI


Sauer, K. S., & Witthoeft, M. (2017). Experience of Emotions and Somatic Symptoms: The Effects of Inducing Anger and Sadness on Somatic Symptom Reports. ZEITSCHRIFT FUR KLINISCHE PSYCHOLOGIE UND PSYCHOTHERAPIE, 46(3), 147-156. DOI

Presentations on Conferences

Sauer, K. S. & Witthöft, M (2019). Harnessing inhibitory learning theory for improving exposure therapy in health anxiety – findings from four single-case reports. 9th World Congress of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies (Berlin, 17.-20.07.2019). [Poster]

Sauer, K. S. & Witthöft, M. (2019). Fördert Exposition bei Krankheitsängsten affektive Kontrollprozesse des Arbeitsgedächtnisses?Inhibitionslernen vs. Habituation: ein experimenteller Vergleich [Does exposure for health anxiety facilitate affective monitoring processes of working memory? Inhibitory learning vs. Habituation: an experimental  comparison]. 11th Workshop Conference of the German Psychological Society, Section Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy (Erlangen, 29.05.-01.06.2019). [Poster]

Sauer, K. S. & Witthöft, M. (2017). Emotionserleben und somatische Beschwerden – der Effekt einer Induktion von Ärger und Traurigkeit auf den körperlichen Symptombericht [Emotional experience and somatic complaints – the effect of an anger and sadness induction on bodily symptom report]. 10th Workshop Conference of the German Psychological Society, Section Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy (Chemnitz, 25.-27.05.2017). [Poster]


Research Interests

  • Illness anxiety disorder, pathological health anxiety
  • Inhibitory learning
  • Medically unexplained symptoms, symptom report