Irene Tobis, PhD, received her doctorate in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1990, studying allocation of attention with applications in self-management of behavior and experience. She was especially interested in psychological mechanisms of self-deception, repression, disregard or dissociation of threatening or inconvenient information ranging from minor oversights to debilitating delusions.
Throughout her career, she has worked to help people make better use of their attention and their energies. Designing strategies tailored to clients’ individual skills, talents, styles and preferences, her goal has been to first to get people past feeling overwhelmed, then to build toward greater productivity and satisfaction.
Early in her professional practice, focused on helping individual clients manage stress and anxiety, she had occasion to offer advice on various aspects of personal productivity and began offering on-site consultations in that vein as a separate business, Ducks-In-A-Row Organizing Consultants, in 1997. Later joined by her husband, systems engineer Michael Tobis, Ducks-In-A-Row® Efficiency Consultants, (1997-present), offered consulting/coaching to academics, entrepreneurs, and business and non-profit team managers on skills, strategies, and tools for professional productivity, performance and stress management in fast-paced and high-demand environments. The couple co-authored a book on stress and productivity for small teams in the workplace, Managing Multiple Projects (McGraw-Hill, 2002), which was translated into nine languages.
A pioneer in the treatment of Hoarding Disorder, she served as an adviser to the innovative Hoarding Task Force of Dane County (Wisconsin) and also the Advisory Council of the National Study Group for Chronic Disorganization. She was often interviewed for local and national media, as well as an invited speaker on hoarding at the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) until Hoarding Disorder was recognized for the first time in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5) in May 2013.
In 2010, she founded and then served as President of OCD TEXAS, the Texas affiliate of the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF), a non-profit support and advocacy organization for people with OCD and related disorders, their families and treating professionals.
Over the course of her career, she founded and managed numerous psychology clinics and programs and other businesses and non-profits in their startup phases. She served as Senior Research Coordinator during the first year of a federally-funded research project at the University of Chicago, the Chicago Social Drinking Project. She served as Practice Manager at the Austin Center for the Treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (AustinOCD), and then as Clinical Director of the OCD and Anxiety Treatment Programs at Cedar Springs Austin Treatment Center. She also served briefly as Executive Director of UBarU Ranch, a retreat and conference center in the Texas Hill Country.
Dr Tobis offered specialized consultation and brief intensive treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Austin, Texas (2007-2015). A seasoned therapist with breadth of experience in treatment of anxiety disorders and depth in behavioral treatment for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), she provided consultation and training for treatment professionals as well as treatment for patients. As Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas in Austin, she provided clinical supervision for doctoral students. She has extensive experience in in-home treatment for OCD and related disorders and has special interests in perfectionism, procrastination, underachievement and burnout.
Turning her attentions to the psychology of engagement with climate change and our collective future, in 2013 she joined the management and editorial staff of Planet3.0, an online conversation site focusing on sustainable technologies and cultures.
She also has a lifelong interest in cultural history, particularly in how individuals and groups use written and oral histories to define their identity and to make large and small decisions that shape their lives. Since receiving her B.A in History at Northwestern University in 1977, she has traveled widely in the U.S. and Europe and has read on these themes. She is currently pursuing historical and cultural preservation projects in Austin.
She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, Michael Tobis, and her cat, Rover, “the cat who thinks she is a dog”. She enjoys sunrise swims in spring-fed Barton Springs Pool near her home, photography, bicycling and nature walks.