Erasmus Clinical & Health Psychology
Program coordinator: Prof. Dr. Ingmar Franken
The Department of Clinical Psychology consists of four research groups with separate, but inter-connected research agendas:
The Experimental Psychopathology group, the Developmental Psychopathology group, the Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy group, and the Health Psychology group.
Together, these four groups are committed to a “From Lab to Society” research idea, which aims at a strong mutual connection between fundamental experimental research and clinical practice and health promotion. The mission of our research program is twofold
- Conduct research on the (neuro-)cognitive factors that contribute to the etiology and maintenance of psychopathology (Experimental Psychopathology & Developmental Psychopathology), with an emphasis on addiction, forensic problems, anxiety and pain.
- Translate this knowledge to both clinical applications and society (Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy group & Health Psychology group).
Our research activities focus on interaction effects between cognition and emotion in the human brain, and their alterations in mental disorders such as addiction, anxiety disorders, (chronic) pain, and criminal behavior. More specifically, we focus on mood or affect-related changes of specific cognitive functions, including selective attention, aversive learning, and performance monitoring. Besides behavioral methods (such as response accuracy or reaction time), we use a wide range of EEG (electro-encephalography) and psychophysiological (e.g. heart rate) tools to explore brain correlates and psychophysiological changes occurring as a function of specific affective states (e.g., anxiety, stress, pain) during information processing and task execution.
This research line is focused on child development, with a particular aim to better understand why some children and adolescents develop problems while others do not. We study several emotional and behavioural problems that are common in childhood, including anxiety disorders, ADHD, autism, eating disorders and risk taking behaviours such as smoking and alcohol use. For this, we conduct observational research within the general population (e.g. the large Generation R cohort) and collect data through questionnaires, observations and more recently, using mobile phone applications (experience sampling methods / ecological momentary assessments). Results forthcoming from our studies contribute to the development of strategies for optimizing child development.
This research group is closely linked to teaching activities within the Master track Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.
Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy
Our research focus is on the translation of scientific knowledge to clinical practice. Our aims are to increase knowledge about specific patient groups and to improve the effectiveness of treatments of psychological disorders, including anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders and PTSD. This will be done by conducting RCTs in regular mental health centers to study both treatment effects and mechanisms of change, in which new treatments will be directly compared to the current treatments of first choice for a particular disorder.
Health and Applied Psychology
From decisions about smoking to food intake and exercise our behaviour influences our health. Indeed, our day to day behavior has a bigger impact on our health than that we often realize. However, changing our behaviour is challenging, especially in the long run. In this part of the research line we are designing and evaluating studies with the aim to support people in making healthier lifestyle choices. We aim to identify key mechanisms underlying successful change in health behaviours. We typically use a multi-methods approach consisting of various quantitative and qualitative research methods.
Forensic and Legal Psychology
Our research focusses on the interplay of psycho(patho)logy and crime. For example, the effect of pathology (e.g., psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder) on criminal behaviour and criminal responsibility will be studied. As another example, the effect of trauma on (meta-)memory will be targeted. Likewise, the effect of various pathology-relevant cognitive biases (e.g., tunnel vision) on forensic and legal decision making will be studied. The approach is quite diverse, ranging from laboratory experiments and neuropsychological assessments to field studies in which forensic patients and professional criminal trial judges will be included.