Julia Brechbiel, PhD

Areas of clinical practice:

SLU at Fred Hutch Cancer Center and UW Diabetes Institute

My passion and background are working with individuals with serious medical conditions, primarily cancer but also other chronic health conditions. I split my clinical time between FHCC and UW Diabetes Institute. I also passionate about conducting research about existential distress and post-traumatic growth in oncology.

Clinical Approach:

I practice an interpersonal approach to psychotherapy, rather than solely structured one. I enjoy building a collaborative relationship with my patients to identify goals to work on in therapy. I really want our time together to be worthwhile. There’s only so much time and energy someone with a major illness has. I am a big fan of the spoon theory and don’t want to be wasting their spoons. I love to use humor, metaphor and stories. I also find it important to provide space and opportunities to discuss heavier topics related to prognosis, morality, grief and legacy. I enjoy supporting patients with  meaning making and trying to answer difficult questions such as “What’s the meaning of all this? How can we help patients live well with what life is remaining?”

Personal History:

I have a small, supportive family with my partner and our dog. Growing up, I was close with my grandparents. My grandfather who lived with Parkinson’s disease for most of my life. Parkinson’s has a lot of physical symptoms, but also mood symptoms. Additionally, he also lived with chronic melanoma and prostate cancer. His health had a large impact on his life, our family, and how I now view quality of life during treatment and at end of life. He always faced challenges and changes in his functioning with humor and creative to continue to engage in active he enjoyed like travel, golf and a fancy meal. Around the time I started graduate school for psychology, he passed away. His legacy influenced me work with people who were living with serious medical conditions or acquired new disability. I want to help patients live with it instead of against it.


College of William & Mary, BS in Psychology
Virginia Commonwealth University, MS
Virginia Commonwealth University, PhD
UW Psychology Internship Program
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Harborview Medical Center, Psychology Post-Doctoral Fellow

Training Programs

Psychology Internship Program

Other Affiliations

Fred Hutch Cancer Center

University of Washington Diabetes Institute

Recent Publications

Primary brain tumor representation in the post-traumatic growth literature: A scoping review.
(2024 Feb)
Neurooncol Pract 11(1): 26-35
Brechbiel JK, Willis KD, Reid MP, Lanoye A, Aslanzadeh FJ, Fox AM, Braun SE, Loughan AR

Case-controlled field study of the ICD-11 clinical descriptions and diagnostic requirements for Bodily Distress Disorders.
(2023 Jul 15)
J Affect Disord 333(): 271-277
Keeley J, Reed GM, Rebello T, Brechbiel J, Garcia-Pacheco JA, Adebayo K, Esan O, Majekodunmi O, Ojagbemi A, Onofa L, Robles R, Matsumoto C, Medina-Mora ME, Kogan CS, Kulygina M, Gaebel W, Zhao M, Roberts MC, Sharan P, Ayuso-Mateos JL, Khoury B, Stein DJ, Lovell AM, Pike K, Creed F, Gureje O

Re-examining popular screening measures in neuro-oncology: MMSE and RBANS.
(2022 Oct)
Support Care Cancer 30(10): 8041-8049
Aslanzadeh F, Braun S, Brechbiel J, Willis K, Parker K, Lanoye A, Loughan A

Death anxiety in patients with primary brain tumor: Measurement, prevalence, and determinants.
(2021 Dec)
Palliat Support Care 19(6): 672-680
Loughan AR, Husain M, Ravyts SG, Willis KD, Braun SE, Brechbiel JK, Aslanzadeh FJ, Rodin G, Svikis DS, Thacker L

Caring for women with substance use disorders through pregnancy and postpartum during the COVID-19 pandemic: Lessons learned from psychology trainees in an integrated OBGYN/substance use disorder outpatient treatment program.
(2021 Mar)
J Subst Abuse Treat 122(): 108200
Sadicario JS, Parlier-Ahmad AB, Brechbiel JK, Islam LZ, Martin CE

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