Rufer Michael

Group Leader

Prof. Dr. med. Michael Rufer

Name of the Institution

Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
University Hospital of Zurich


Culmannstrasse 8


8091 Zurich


+41-44-255 52 51


Group Members

Annette Brühl, MD, Privatdozentin
Aba Delsignore, PhD, Privatdozentin
Hans J Grabe, MD, Professor
Uwe Herwig, MD, Professor
Lutz Jäncke, PhD, Professor
Chantal Martin Sölch, PhD, Professor
Steffen Moritz, PhD, Professor
Thomas Suslow, MD, Professor
Christoph Müller-Pfeiffer, MD, , Privatdozent
Dominik Straumann, MD, Professor
Susanne Walitza, MD, Professor
Steffi Weidt, MD

Main Field(s) of Research, Abstract

Psychotherapy research

  • Process- and outcome-studies on cognitive behavioral therapy, subgroup-analyses, long-term follow-ups
  • Impact of psychotherapy on symptom reduction and quality of life
  • Analyses of predictors for treatment outcome

Emotion regulation

  • Neurobiology of cognitive control of emotions
  • Assessment, temporal stability and clinical relevance of difficulty in emotion regulation (alexithymia)
  • Dissociation in different mental disorders, impact on psychotherapy

Anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders

  • Subgroup-analyses (e.g., symptom dimensions), including neurobiology
  • Analyses of psychosocial factors influencing the course of illness
  • Neurobiological characteristics and changes following cognitive behavioral therapy

Main Fields of Research, Keywords

Psychotherapy research; process- and outcome-studies; cognitive behavioral therapy; subgroup-analyses, long-term follow-up; quality of life; outcome predictors; emotion regulation; Neurobiology; cognitive control; assessment, alexithymia; dissociation obsessive-compulsive disorders; anxiety disorders; symptom dimensions; course of illness

Special Techniques and Equipment

fMRI and experimental laboratory for the recording of the activity of the autonomous nervous system.

Education and Training

Training for PhD students, medical dissertations, psychology diploma and master students.

Selected Publications

Hauser T, Iannaccone R, Dolan RJ, Ball J, Hättenschwiler J, Drechsler R, Rufer M, Brandeis D, Walitza S, Brem S (in press)
Increased fronto-striatal reward prediction errors moderate decision making in obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Psychological Medicine

Steiger V, Brühl AB, Weidt S, Delsignore A, Rufer M, Jäncke L, Herwig U, Hänggi J (in press)
Pattern of structural brain changes in social anxiety disorder after cognitive behavioral group therapy: A longitudinal multimodal brain imaging study.
Molecular Psychiatry

Weidt S, Zai G, Drabe N, Delsignore A, Brühl AB, Klaghofer R, Rufer M (2016)
Affective regulation in trichotillomania before and after self-help interventions.
Journal of Psychiatric Research 75:7-13

Morina N, Sulaj V, Schnyder U, Klaghofer R, Müller J, Martin-Sölch C, Rufer M (2016)
Obsessive-compulsive and posttraumatic stress symptoms among civilian survivors of war.
BMC Psychiatry 16:115

Günther V, Rufer M, Kersting A, Suslow, T (2016)
Predicting symptoms in major depression after inpatient treatment: The role of alexithymia.
Nordic Journal of Psychiatry 70:392-398

Delsignore A, Rufer M, Emmerich J, Weidt S, Brühl AB, Mörgeli H (2016)
E-mail support as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioral group therapy for social anxiety disorder: Impact on dropout and outcome.
Psychiatry Research 244:151-158

Rosenberg N, Rufer M, Lichev V, Ihme K, Grabe HJ, Kugel H, Kersting A, Suslow T
Observer-rated alexithymia and its relationship with the five-factor-model of personality.
Psychologica Belgica 56:118-134

Weidt S, Lutz J, Rufer M, Delsignore A, Jakob NJ, Herwig U, Brühl AB (2016)
Common and differential alterations of general emotion processing in obsessive-compulsive and social anxiety disorder.
Psychological Medicine 46:1427-1436

Suslow T, Kugel H, Rufer M, Redlich R, Dohm K, Grotegerd D, Zaremba D,
Dannlowski U (2016)
Alexithymia is associated with attenuated automatic brain response to facial emotion in clinical depression.
Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry 65:194-200

Koch J, Flemming J, Zeffiro T, Rufer M, Orr SP, Mueller-Pfeiffer C (2016)
Effects of posture and stimulus spectral composition on peripheral physiological responses to loud sounds.
PLoS ONE 11:1-9

Weidt S, Delsignore A, Meyer M, Rufer M, Peter N, Kleinjung T (2016)
Which tinnitus-related characteristics affect current health-related quality of life and depression? A cross-sectional cohort study.
Psychiatry Research 237:114–121

Wahle F, Kowatsch T, Fleisch E, Rufer M, Weidt S (2016)
Mobile Sensing and Support for People with Depression: A Pilot Trial in the Wild.
JMIR Mhealth Uhealth 4:e111

Weidt S, Klaghofer R, Kuenburg A, Brümoegehl AB, Delsignore A, Moritz S, Rufer M (2015)
Internet-based self-help for trichotillomania: A randomized controlled study comparing decoupling and progressive muscle relaxation.
Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics 84:359–367

Opialla S, Lutz J, Scherpiet S, Hittmeyer A, Jäncke L, Rufer M, Grosse Holtforth M, Herwig U, Brühl AB (2015)
Neural circuits of emotion regulation: A comparison of mindfulness-based and cognitive reappraisal strategies.
European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 265:45–55

Schumacher S, Herwig U, Baur V, Mueller-Pfeiffer C, Martin-Soelch C, Rufer M,
Brühl AB (2015)
Psychophysiological responses during the anticipation of emotional pictures.
Journal of Psychophysiology, 29:13–19

Lichev V, Sacher J, Ihme K, Rosenberg N, Quirin M, Lepsien J, Pampel A, Rufer M, Grabe HJ, Kugel H, Kersting A, Villringer A, Lane RD, Suslow T (2015)
Automatic emotion processing as a function of trait emotional awareness: an fMRI study.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 10:680-689

Voderholzer U, Schlegl S, Diedrich A, Külz AK, Thiel N, Hertenstein E, Schwartz C, Rufer M, Herbst N, Nissen C, Hillebrand T, Osen B, Stengler K, Jelinek L, Moritz S (2015)
Supply with cognitive behavior therapy as first-line treatment in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
(English Version of) Verhaltenstherapie 25:183–190

Rufer M, Mörgeli H, Moritz S, Drabe N, Weidt S (2014)
Alexithymia and non-treatment: An Internet based study of 312 people with chronic anxiety.
Comprehensive Psychiatry, 55:179-187

Rufer M, Bamert T, Klaghofer R, Moritz S, Schilling L, Weidt S (2014)
Trichotillomania and emotion regulation: Is symptom severity related to alexithymia?
Psychiatry Research 218: 161–165

Weidt S, Brühl AB, Mörgeli H, Straumann D, Hegemann S, Büchi S, Rufer M (2014)
Graphic representation of the burden of suffering in dizziness patients.
Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 12:184

Weidt S, Brühl AB, Straumann S, Hegemann S, Krautstrunk G, Rufer M (2014)
Health-related quality of life and emotional distress in patients with dizziness: a cross-sectional approach to disentangle their relationship.
BMC Health Services Research 14:317

Lichev V, Rufer M, Rosenberg N, Ihme K, Grabe HJ, Kugel H, Donges US, Kersting A,
Suslow T (2014)
Assessing alexithymia and emotional awareness: Relations between measures in a German non-clinical sample.
Comprehensive Psychiatry 55:952-959

Brühl AB, Rufer M, Kaffenberger T, Baur V, Herwig U (2014)
Neural circuits associated with positive and negative self-appraisal.
Neuroscience, 265: 48-59

Delsignore A, Rufer M, Mörgeli H, Emmerich J, Schlesinger J, Milos G, Schulte-Vels T, Weidt S (2014)
California Alliance Psychotherapy Scale (CALPAS): Psychometric properties of the German version for group and individual therapy patients.
Comprehensive Psychiatry 55:736-742

Brühl AB, Hänggi J, Baur V, Rufer M, Delsignore A, Weidt S, Jäncke L, Herwig U (2014)
Increased cortical thickness in a fronto-parietal network in social anxiety disorder.
Human Brain Mapping 35:2966–2977

Akkus F, Terbeck S, Ametamey SM, Rufer M, Treyer V, Burger C, Johayem A, Mancilla BG, Sovago J, Buck A, Hasler G (2014)
Metabotropic Glutamate Receptor 5 Binding in Patients with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 17:1915–1922.

Ihme K, Sacher J, Lichev V, Rosenberg N, Kugel H, Rufer M, Grabe HJ, Pampel A, Lepsien J, Kersting A, Villringer A, Suslow T (2014)
Alexithymia and the labeling of facial emotions: response slowing and increased motor and somatosensory processing.
BMC Neuroscience, 15:40

Lutz J, Herwig U, Opialla S, Hittmeyer A, Jäncke L, Rufer M, Grosse Holtforth M, Brühl AB (2014)
Mindfulness and emotion regulation – an fMRI study.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 9:776-785

Ihme K, Sacher J, Lichev V, Rosenberg N, Kugel H, Rufer M, Grabe HJ, Pampel A, Lepsien J, Kersting A, Villringer A, Lane RD, Suslow T (2014)
Alexithymic features and the labeling of brief emotional facial expressions - an fMRI study.
Neuropsychologia, 64:289-299

Mueller-Pfeiffer C, Zeffiro T, O’Gorman R, Michels L, Baumann P, Wood N, Spring J, Rufer M, Pitman RK, Orr SP (2014)
Cortical and Cerebellar Modulation of Autonomic Responses to Loud Sounds.
Psychophysiology, 51:60-69

Brühl AB, Herwig U, Delsignore A, Jäncke L, Rufer M (2013)
General emotion processing in social anxiety disorder: neural issues of cognitive control.
Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 212: 108-115

Mueller-Pfeiffer C, Mörgeli H, Schumacher S, Martin-Soelch C, Wirtz G, Fuhrhans C, Hindermann E, Rufer M (2013)
Characteristics of child maltreatment and their relation to dissociation, posttraumatic stress symptoms and depression in adult psychiatric patients.
Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 201:471-477

von Rimscha S, Mörgeli H, Weidt S, Straumann D, Hegemann S, Rufer M (2013)
Alexithymia and health related quality of life in patients with dizziness.
Psychopathology 46:377–383

Mueller-Pfeiffer C, Rufibach K, Wyss D, Perron N, Pitman RK, Rufer M (2013)
Screening for Dissociative Disorders in Psychiatric Out- and Day Care-Patients.
Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 35:592–602

Leenen K, Rufer M, Mörgeli H, Grabe HJ, Jenewein J, Garcia D, Majohr K, Drabe N (2013)
Alexithyme Patientenmerkmale und Lebensqualität – Eine Querschnittsstudie an 79 ambulanten Patienten mit Angststörungen.
Zeitschrift für Psychiatrie, Psychologie und Psychotherapie, 61:17–26

Baur V, Brühl AB, Herwig U, Eberle T, Rufer M, Delsignore A, Jäncke L, Hänggi J (2013)
Evidence of frontotemporal structural hypoconnectivity in social anxiety disorder: A quantitative fiber tractography study.
Human Brain Mapping, 34:437–446

Tomonaga Y, Haettenschwiler J, Hatzinger M, Holsboer-Trachsler E, Rufer M, Hepp U,
Szucs TD (2013)
The economic burden of depression in Switzerland.
PharmacoEconomics, 31:237-250

Dittrich D, Domes G, Loebel S, Berger C, Spitzer C, Herpertz SC, Rufer M, Barnow S, Freyberger HJ, Grabe HJ (2013)
Beeinträchtigtes Erkennen emotionaler Gesichtsausdrücke durch psychiatrische Patientinnen bei Alexithymie.
Zeitschrift für Psychiatrie, Psychologie und Psychotherapie, 61:7-15

Mueller-Pfeiffer C, Schick M, Schulte-Vels T, O'Gorman R, Michels L, Martin-Soelch C, Blair JR, Rufer M, Schnyder U, Zeffiro T, Hasler G (2013)
Atypical Visual Processing in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
NeuroImage Clinical, 3:531-538

Mueller-Pfeiffer C, Rufibach K, Perron N, Wyss D, Kuenzler C, Prezewowsky C, Pitman RK, Rufer M (2012)
Global functioning and disability in dissociative disorders.
Psychiatry Research, 200:475-481

Delsignore A, Weidt S, Emmerich J, Rufer M (2012)
Life satisfaction in patients with social anxiety disorder: impact of cognitive-behavioral group therapy.
Mind & Brain, The Journal of Psychiatry, 3:9-14

Schumacher S, Martin-Soelch C, Rufer M, Pazhenkottil AP, Wirtz G, Fuhrhans C, Hindermann E, Mueller-Pfeiffer C (2012)
Psychometric characteristics of the German adaptation of the Traumatic Experiences Checklist (TEC).
Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 4:338-346

Rufer M, Schnyder U, Schirlo C, Wengle H, Gerke W (2011)
Facharztweiterbildung Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie. Problemorientiertes Lernen - Evaluation eines Modellprojekts.
Nervenarzt, 82:636-644

Moritz S, Rufer M (2011)
Movement decoupling: a self-help intervention for the treatment of trichotillomania.
Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 42:74-80

Moritz S, Treszl A, Rufer M (2011)
A randomized controlled trial of a novel self-help technique for impulse control disorders. A study on nail-biting.
Behavior Modification, 35:468-485

Majohr KL, Leenen L, Grabe HJ, Jenewein J, Garcia D, Rufer M (2011)
Alexithymia and its relationship to dissociation in patients with panic disorder.
Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 199: 773-777

Brühl AB, Rufer M, Delsignore A, Kaffenberger T, Jäncke L, Herwig U (2011)
Neural correlates of altered general emotion processing in social anxiety disorder.
Brain Research, 1378:72-83

Baur V, Hänggi J, Rufer M, Delsignore A, Jäncke L, Herwig U, Brühl AB (2011)
White matter alterations in social anxiety disorder.
Journal of Psychiatric Research, 45:1366-1372

Rufer M, Albrecht R, Schmidt O, Zaum J, Schnyder U, Hand I, Mueller-Pfeiffer C (2010)
Changes in quality of life following cognitive-behavioral group therapy for panic disorder.
European Psychiatry, 25:8-14

Rufer M, Albrecht R, Zaum J, Schnyder U, Mueller-Pfeiffer C, Hand I, Schmidt O (2010)
Impact of alexithymia on treatment outcome: A naturalistic study of short-term cognitive-behavioral group therapy for panic disorder.
Psychopathology, 43:170-179

Mueller-Pfeiffer C, Schumacher S, Martin-Sölch C, Pazhenkottil A, Wirtz G, Fuhrhans C, Hindermann E, Assaloni H, Briner DP, Rufer M (2010)
The validity and reliability of the German version of the Somatoform Dissociation Questionnaire (SDQ-20).
Journal of Trauma & Dissociation, 11:337-357

Garcia D, Rufer M, Leenen K, Majohr KL, Grabe H und Jenewein J (2010)
Lebensqualität und alexithyme Merkmale bei Patienten mit somatoformer Schmerzstörung.
Schmerz, 24:62-68

Krämer B, Hobi S, Rufer M, Hepp U, Büchi S, Schnyder U (2010)
Partnerschaft und Sexualität von Frau-zu-Mann transsexuellen Männern.
Psychotherapie, Psychosomatik, Medizinische Psychologie, 60:15-30

Apostolova I, Block S, Buchert R, Osen B, Conradi M, Tabrizian S, Gensichen S, Schröder-Hartwig K, Fricke S, Rufer M, Weiss A, Hand I, Clausen M, Obrocki J (2010)
Effects of behavioral therapy or pharmacotherapy on brain glucose metabolism in subjects with obsessive–compulsive disorder as assessed by brain FDG PET.
Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 184:105-116

Mueller-Pfeiffer C, Martin-Sölch C, Blair JR, Carnier A, Kaiser N, Rufer M, Schnyder U, Hasler G (2010)
Impact of emotion on cognition in trauma survivors: what is the role of posttraumatic stress disorder?
Journal of Affective Disorders, 126:287-292

Grabe HJ, Löbel S, Dittrich D, Bagby RM, Taylor GJ, Quilty LC, Spitzer C, Banow S, Mathier F, Jenewein J, Freyberger HJ, Rufer M (2009)
The German version of the Toronto Structured Interview for alexithymia: factor structure, reliability, and concurrent validity in a psychiatric patient sample.
Comprehensive Psychiatry, 50:424-430

Peter H, Brückner E, Hand I, Rohr W, Rufer M (2008)
Treatment outcome in female agoraphobics 3 to 9 years after exposure in-vivo. A comparison with normal controls.
Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 39:3-10

Brückner E, Peter H, Rufer M, Bandelow B, Dahme B, Hand I, Mueller-Pfeiffer C (2008)
Expressed Emotion in the partners of a non-clinical adult sample: A comparison with relatives of patients with schizophrenia and depression.
German Journal of Psychiatry, 11:84-90

Müller C, Teschner M, Assaloni H, Kraemer B, Schnyder U, Rufer M (2007)
Eine ambulante Stabilisierungsgruppe zur Verbesserung der Emotionsregulation bei komplexen posttraumatischen Störungen.
Psychotherapie, Psychosomatik, Medizinische Psychologie, 57:364-372

Herwig U, Baumgartner T, Kaffenberger T, Brühl A, Kottlow M, Schreiter-Gasser U, Abler B, Jäncke L, Rufer M (2007)
Modulation of anticipatory emotion and perception processing by cognitive control.
NeuroImage, 37:652-662

Müller C, Mörgeli H, Assaloni H, Schneider R, Rufer M (2007)
Dissociative disorders among chronic and severely impaired psychiatric outpatients.
Psychopathology, 40:470-471

Rufer M, Held D, Cremer J, Fricke S, Moritz S, Peter H, Hand I (2006)
Dissociation as a predictor of cognitive behavior therapy outcome in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 75:40-46

Rufer M, Fricke S, Moritz S, Kloss M, Hand I (2006)
Symptom dimensions in obsessive-compulsive disorder: prediction of cognitive-behavior therapy outcome.
Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 113:440-446

Rufer M, Ziegler A, Alsleben H, Fricke S, Ortmann J, Brückner E, Hand I, Peter H (2006)
A prospective long-term follow-up study of alexithymia in obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Comprehensive Psychiatry, 47:394-398

Rufer M, Fricke, S, Held, D, Cremer J, Hand I (2006)
Dissociation and symptom dimensions of obsessive-compulsive disorder: a replication study.
European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 256:146-150

Meier S, Fricke S, Moritz S, Hand I, Rufer M (2006)
Ambulante verhaltenstherapeutische Gruppentherapie bei Zwangsstörungen – Ein effektiver Behandlungsansatz?
Verhaltenstherapie, 16:173–182

Müller C, Rufer M, Mörgeli H, Bridler R (2006)
Brain imaging in psychiatry – a study of 435 psychiatric in-patients at a university clinic.
Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 114:91-100

Fricke S, Moritz B, Andresen B, Jacobsen M, Kloss M, Rufer M, Hand I (2006)
Do personality disorders predict negative treatment outcome in obsessive-compulsive disorders? A prospective 6-month follow-up study.
European Psychiatry, 21:319-324

Rufer M, Hand I, Alsleben H, Braatz A, Ortmann J, Katenkamp B, Fricke S, Peter H (2005)
Long-term course and outcome of obsessive-compulsive patients after cognitive-behavioral therapy in combination with either fluvoxamine or placebo: A 7-year follow-up of a randomized double-blind trial.
European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 255,121-128

Rufer M, Grothusen A, Mass R, Peter H, Hand I (2005)
Temporal stability of symptom dimensions in adult patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Journal of Affective Disorders, 88:99-102

Peter H, Brückner E, Hand I, Rufer M (2005)
Childhood separation anxiety and separation events in women with agoraphobia with or without panic disorder.
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 50:639-642

Moritz S, Rufer M, Fricke S, Karow A, Morfeld M, Jelinek L, Jacobsen D (2005)
Quality of life in obsessive-compulsive disorder before and after treatment.
Comprehensive Psychiatry, 46:453-459

Rufer M, Hand I, Braatz A, Alsleben H, Fricke S, Peter H (2004)
A prospective study of alexithymia in obsessive-compulsive patients treated with multimodal cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 73:101-106

Moritz S, Fricke S, Jacobsen D, Kloss M, Wein C, Rufer M, Katenkamp B, Farhumand R, Hand I (2004)
Positive schizotypical symptoms predict treatment outcome in obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Behaviour Research and Therapy, 42:217-227

Moritz S, Jacobsen D, Kloss M, Fricke S, Rufer M, Hand I (2004)
Examination of emotional Stroop interference in obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Behaviour Research and Therapy, 42:671-682

Fricke S, Moritz S, Andresen B, Hand I, Jacobsen M, Kloss M, Rufer M (2003)
Einfluss von Persönlichkeitsstörungen auf den Erfolg einer multimodalen Verhaltenstherapie bei Zwangserkrankungen: Teil II - eigentliche Ergebnisse.
Verhaltenstherapie, 13:172-182

Mundt A, Hand I, Rufer M (2002)
Die spezifische Verhaltenstherapie-Tagesklinik.
Nervenarzt, 73:1082-1087

Schlief R, Staks T, Mahler M, Rufer M, Fritzsch T, Seifert W (1990)
Successful opacification of left heart chambers on echocardiographic examination after intravenous injection of a new saccharide based contrast agent.
Echocardiography, 7:61-64


Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF), Hartmann Müller Foundation, Gottfried and Julia Bangerter-Rhyner Foundation, EMDO Foundation, Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation, Helene Bieber-Fonds, Fritz Rohrer-Fonds, Olga Mayenfisch Stiftung, Matching Funds (Center for Clinical Research, University of Zürich and and University Hospital Zürich), Novartis Stiftung für Medizinisch Biologische Forschung


Link to "Forschungsdatenbank" of the University