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Cognition, affect, behavior, and intervention in mental disorder

The aim of the research in the department of Clinical Psychology is to generate scientific knowledge in the area of mental disorders and their psychological treatment. The most important aspect of this objective is to contribute to reducing the illness burden of mental disorders.

To this end we study the psychological processes that contribute to the development of mental disorders, and how these processes may be influenced by psychological interventions. Our main focus in this is on the processes themselves and the effects of psychological interventions and their most effective ingredients.

We operate from both the public mental health perspective and a clinical perspective.

The public mental health perspective means that we look at the mental disorders, the processes that lead to them and their psychological treatment from the point of view of public health and the illness burden that these disorders incur at population level. Epidemiological population research is an important source of knowledge in this respect, as are prevention and early intervention. In this context we focus chiefly, but not exclusively on the common mental disorders: depression and suicide, anxiety disorders and addiction problems.

The clinical perspective means that we study the mental disorders that are frequently presented in mental health care practices such as schizophrenia and chronic depression. In this regard, the focus is on prevention and the development processes of the disorders as well as the inhibiting and contributory factors that are associated with relapse and/or chronicity of mental disorders.

Other important research principles of our department are as follows:

  • In addition to population studies on the prevention, development and progress of mental disorders we are chiefly interested in intervention research. This constitutes the core of the department’s research. Our preference is for randomised trials to study the effects and effect predictors of psychological interventions.
  • With regard to research methods, our main focus is empirical quantitative research, in which we chiefly work with epidemiological population studies and randomised trials.
  • The theoretical framework we use is the stress-vulnerability model of Harris and Brown (1978).

Prof. Dr. Pim Cuijpers:
·                Minimal interventions in the prevention and early treatment of common mental disorders

Prof. Dr. Ad Kerkhof:
·                Psychopathology and suicide prevention

Prof. Dr. Jack Dekker:
·               Evidence-based treatment of mental disorders especially for chronic psychiatric disorders