Espe-Pfeifer Named Director of Sports Psychology and Student-Athlete Mental Health

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Dr. Patricia Espe-Pfeifer has been named to the position of director of sports psychology and student-athlete mental health services for University of Iowa Athletics. The announcement was made Monday by Gary Barta, Henry B. and Patricia B. Tippie Director of Athletics Chair.


Espe-Pfeifer joins the UI Athletics staff after serving as a clinical professor and neuropsychologist with the UIHC Department of Psychiatry since 2004. Espe-Pfeifer is a faculty member and provider within the UIHC Stead Family Children’s Hospital and has served as director of child psychology and pediatric neuropsychology services with child psychiatry. She works closely with UI Sports Medicine Concussion Clinic and is an interdisciplinary team member for the Neurocritical Care, Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, and Pediatric Epilepsy clinics.


Espe-Pfeifer also provides group therapy interventions through the Outpatient Adolescent Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Program. Her areas of clinical interest include traumatic brain injury, sports-related concussions, epilepsy, stroke, eating disorders, ADHD and learning disabilities.


“Adding this position strengthens our commitment to student-athlete mental health, along with the additional steps we have taken to add staff to address the needs of this important topic and supporting our student-athletes,” said Barta. “Patricia’s professional experience and her previous involvement with our student-athletes make her a perfect fit to join with UI Athletics.”


“Over the last 18 years I have had the privilege of working within psychiatry with faculty and staff who are truly devoted to meeting the mental health needs of the individuals and families that we serve,” said Espe-Pfeifer. “I am impressed by UI Athletics’ mission to broaden the scope of services and emphasize the importance of student-athlete mental health. I am excited to begin my new role within UI Athletics to help address the mental health needs of Hawkeye student-athletes.”


Espe-Pfeifer earned her doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University in 2002 and completed her postdoctoral fellowship in neuropsychology from the University of Virginia Medical Center in 2004. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and biology from Jamestown College and her master’s degree in clinical psychology from Austin Peay University.


Espe-Pfeifer has authored more than 20 publications and creative works and nearly 50 published abstracts.


Her professional memberships include the Sports Neuropsychology Society (SNS), International Neuropsychological Society (INS), American Psychological Association (ASA) and the National Academy of Neuropsychology (NAN), while holding service roles in numerous additional professional organizations.


Espe-Pfeifer is married to Jason Pfeifer. The couple have three children — Raina, Nikolaus and Amara.