The Clinical Research programme aims to improve assessment, causal understanding and treatment of a specified number of stress-related mental disorders. It does so by developing and testing theoretical models, and by developing and testing therapeutic interventions derived from behavioral science. The primary methodological approach is experimental.
The clinical programme investigates how stressors (distant, recent and current) interact with cognitive processes (e.g., attention, memory, thought, reasoning), behavioral processes (e.g., approach and avoidance), and biological processes (e.g., HPA-axis or monoaminergic functioning). In this way the dynamic and complex interaction of motivated cognition with various non-cognitive factors is investigated. Research into this interaction uncovers an underlying vulnerability for mental disorders.
The Clinical Research Program has four main content areas. The program focusses on three types of disorder:
- Anxiety disorders
- Mood disorders
- Somatoform disorders
- The methodology to study these: the trans-diagnostic approach
The three common mental disorders constitute a rather unified research topic. All three are stress-related conditions. In clinical practice, the co-morbidity among these conditions is high, and there are also similarities in known causative and maintaining factors, and in preferred psychological and pharmacological treatments Of course, there are also notable differences.
Within this focus, the program adopts a transdiagnostic approach. The aim is to understand the complex interplay among cognitive, behavioral and biological processes across these three stress-related disorders. This knowledge may contribute to improved treatments and (secondary) prevention measures of mental disorders.
More information can be found at the section Clinical Psychology