Clinical and Developmental Psychopathology

Join leading international scientists to understand and innovate treatment and prevention of mental disorders in children, adolescents and adults

Are you interested in different perspectives on psychopathology and ready to unravel trends in brain and behavior? Do you want to gain an in-depth insight in the developmental origins of mental health and clinical presentation of disorders? Then the Clinical and Developmental Psychopathology Research Master may be the right Master’s programme for you!

This Master’s programme gives you the opportunity to work on theoretical and practical problems, through a diversity of learning activities and settings. In a small scale teaching setting, as a student at the Research Master’s in Clinical and Developmental Psychopathology you will learn about the etiology, the development and course of psychopathology and cutting edge psychologically informed methods for its prevention and treatment. The best researchers in this field will present high-quality teaching on the newest insights on the relation between mental health, biological endowments and environmental resources, the neuropsychological substrate and human relationships, and adaptive and maladaptive developmental pathways.

The programme in a nutshell

The Research Master Clinical and Developmental Psychopathology is a two year, 120 ECTS programme which is completely taught in English. It is a challenging educational programme, offered to talented and motivated students. During this master, you will embark on an extensive study of the origins of mental health.

In this Research Master, you will learn how to conduct scientific and translational research on an international level and in an international context. The Master’s programme consists of 108 ECTS obligatory courses and 12 ETCS elective courses. Methods and statistics are core in this programme. Over two years, you will receive the best possible preparation for a PhD research position.

Career prospects

After completing the Research Master’s Degree in Clinical and Developmental Research, you will be in an excellent position to undertake PhD studies. You will also be able to be involved in translational research conducted in the field of practice or in applied research centers. Around 50% of our graduates are likely to be employed as researchers in positions at universities and research institutes, but especially in research positions bridging the gap between universities and mental health services.

On average, the Vrije Universiteit offers two PhD positions to our RM students. In past years, overall around 40% of our students secured a PhD position. Others mostly went on to work in clinical practice, using their solid academic basis to improve treatment and care within the field of psychopathology.

Did we already trigger you?

The Master’s programme consists of 108 ECTS obligatory courses and 12 ETCS elective courses. Methods and statistics are core in this programme. Over two years, you will receive the best possible preparation for a PhD research position. 

Year 1
In the first year of the programme, courses will focus on the integration of clinical and developmental perspectives of psychopathology, to achieve a thorough theoretical understanding of the developmental origins of mental health and the clinical presentation of disorders. Besides this, you will learn the most basic skills in conducting epidemiological research. You will get the change to develop skills for critically analyzing intervention rationales, to judge empirical support and to apply theory in designing interventions for specific problems. You will finish your first year by developing a research plan for your project, where you can integrate your skills and knowledge obtained in the first year of the Research Master.

Year 2
In the second year, you will further deepen your knowledge on mental health. The first two courses focus on the further development of your clinical research skills and the application of research in applied and basic neuroscience. The neuroscience approach to mental health focuses on the relationship between brain and behavior. Thereafter, you will learn how to prepare data for research projects and study information and skills needed to cover the process aspects of an academic-clinical study. After completing these courses, the Master’s programme is rounded off with the Master thesis of 30 ECTS. The Master’s thesis allows you to integrate the knowledge and skills acquired during the Research Master, and to apply this knowledge and skills in research.

Learning activities
Through a diversity of learning activities (see below) students are given the opportunity to work on theoretical and practical problems. This is done in individual, group, and tutored settings.

  • Seminars
  • Practicals
  • Research projects
  • Presentations
  • Lectures

Courses and projects
Through elective courses and research projects, students choose their specific direction or approach. They will have a tutor who is a scientific leader in the area of interest. The tutor will introduce the student in his or her research group, and give feedback on skills needed to become a successful scientist.

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A job as... a researcher at a university or research institute
After completing their Research Master’s Degree in Clinical and Developmental Psychopathology, graduates will be in an excellent position to undertake PhD studies, addressing questions on epidemiology, etiology, diagnosis, course, treatment and outcome of psychopathology, as well as mental health service planning and evaluation. In addition, they may be involved in translational research conducted in the field of practice or in applied research centers. Graduates from the Research Master’s programme are likely to be employed as researchers in positions at universities and research institutes, but especially in research positions bridging the gap between universities and mental health services.

Around 50% of our graduates are likely to be employed as researchers in positions at universities and research institutes, but especially in research positions bridging the gap between universities and mental health services. On average, the Vrije Universiteit offers two PhD positions to our RM students. In past years, overall around 40% of our students secured a PhD position. Others mostly went on to work in clinical practice, using their solid academic basis to improve treatment and care within the field of psychopathology. 

Master of Science
Once you have completed the programme, you will be awarded the title of Master of Science (MSc) in Clinical and Developmental Psychopathology.

Excellent education
Teaching takes place on a small scale and is of the highest quality. The tutors take great care in monitoring and mentoring students. You are assigned an individual mentor who provides you with personal guidance and supervision. 
 
Leading scientists
You are taught by scientists who have made unique contributions to the areas of research featured in the programme. All enjoy international recognition as prominent researchers in diverse fields of developmental and clinical psychology and associated disciplines. All of our teaching staff receives consistently excellent educational evaluations.  
 
Internationally oriented
The Master’s has a strong international orientation. It is taught entirely in English, with the staff including highly respected international researchers, and you will be able to work on research projects with a strong international focus.

Clinical relevance
Ultimately, our research is aimed to further the development and innovation of preventive and treatment methods, in order to reduce the personal suffering of patients with mental disorders. This Master’s gives you the opportunity to contribute as well.

All Master’s degree programmes of VU Amsterdam are accredited by NVAO (Nederlands-Vlaamse Accreditatieorganisatie), the accreditation organisation of The Netherlands and Flanders.

NVAO is entrusted by law to accredit all existing bachelor’s and master’s degree courses and to validate new study programmes at government-funded higher education institutions as well as institutions approved (but not funded) by the Dutch government. 

 

Esti Royuela

International student

Esta-Royuela

"For me, this first year of the master has been a path to understand myself better and to find what I want to do in the future. Moreover, quality of studies at VU Amsterdam is really high. Professors are super qualified and experienced. I know this year in Amsterdam has produced so many changes in my life." Read more

Clinical and Developmental Psychopathology

Overview Clinical & Developmental Psychopathology: Research

LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION

English

DURATION

2 years

TUITION FEE

APPLICATION DEADLINE

1 June for Dutch students. For International students who apply after April 1 Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam can not guarantee that accommodation will be available for them.

START DATE

1 September

STUDY TYPE

Full-time

Admission Requirements

Academic Bachelor in Education or related Bachelor.

FIELD OF INTEREST

Behavioural and Social Sciences

Arz Stephan

Alumnus

Photo_Arz_Stephan_CDP_good_practice

"I realize I made an excellent choice in my academic journey by joining the Research Master's in Clinical and Developmental Psychopathology program at VU Amsterdam. It provided me with the opportunity to be trained by top researchers in the field. I did acquire a diversity of research skills, and learn to apply them under their supervision. It is a perfect combination of a broad theoretical tool box, an active and dynamic field work, and a solid research basis. 

In addition, the program allowed me to elaborate my skills in finding the best ways to prevent and treating mental health problems, and at the same time to investigate the reasons behind such problems. Hence, consumers of mental health services are seen as continuously developing human beings while always belonging to the society. 

Also, this very international program has familiarized me with the international research networks in psychopathology. Both the teaching staff and the students form a melting pot of cultural diversity while sharing a common passion for research. 
Finally, living in Amsterdam is an enriching opportunity. Culture and history are abundant in the city and reflect the happiness, as well as the dynamic and innovative spirit of the Dutch people."  

Meet the staff


Agnes Willemen

Dr. Agnes Willemen, Postdoc researcher in Clinical Child and Family Studies

Research Interests
I’m interested in the relationship between parents and children, especially relationships with children who are vulnerable for developing psychological problems. For example, children who make the transition to the adolescent period, children and adolescents with chronic disease, with a history of psychological problems, children exposed to domestic violence, and children and adolescents exposed to stressful circumstances. My interest in the parent-child relationship in vulnerable children has been shaped by my academic training and experience. A bachelor in Nursing, a Masters in Special Education – psychosocial problems, an internship in Leuven at the department of developmental psychology, a Ph.D. at the VU Amsterdam in the course of psychopathology in referred children and adolescents, an internship as clinical psychologist in Emma Kinderziekenhuis –AMC, and finally my work as a teacher and researcher in special education have shaped my thinking and research.

The central focus of my research is understanding how parents can effectively support their vulnerable children and why some parent-child dyads have so much difficulties in having a secure relationship with each other. One of my research aims is to identify the mechanisms by which parental cognitions, emotions and behaviors affect children’s psychosocial development. These mechanisms reflect internal and external processes, such as stressful live events (death of a family member, serious disease, parental divorce), parent psychopathology, parent-child attachment, parental autonomy support, parental overprotection and psychological control, parent-child affect regulation, child stress regulation and arousal, and child sleeping problems.
Next to this, I try hard to translate the findings in suitable, accessible parent-child intervention programs for parents and children, to ensure that they profit from the new findings.

Current research
Thanks to a grant from the ZonMW to Emma Kinderziekenhuis-AMC and our department, we were able to set up a clinical randomized controlled study among children with chronic illness to investigate the effectiveness of a group intervention for children and a complementary program for parents. The study, which started in 2008, is a huge success in several hospitals in the Netherlands. The collaboration between researchers and clinical psychologists, children and parents has resulted in an evidence based intervention accessible for all children with a chronic disease in the Netherlands, their parents in their professional caregivers.

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A.M Pot

Prof. Dr. Anne Margriet Pot, Professor of Geropsychology

What fascinates you? 
I am fascinated in mental health problems of older adults and how to improve research, education and care in this field. The percentage of people aged 65 years and older will increase from 15% at the moment to 25% in 2040. Mental health care is increasingly old age care. There is still a lot to discover in this field, especially for frail older adults and their caregivers. For example: Psychological interventions developed for younger adults are not always effective for older adults. Psychological interventions especially developed for older adults, such as life review, need to be elaborated and extended. Family caregivers need better psychological support. Professional caregivers need tools to cope with behavioral problems.

I have published widely in this field in professional and scientific journals and have served as first editor of the Handbook Geropsychology (In Dutch: Handboek ouderenpsychologie). I actively stimulate vocational training for geropsychologists in the Netherlands and scientific research on an international level. As a BIG-registered Clinical Psychologist, I am convinced that the exchange between scientific research and clinical practice is of utmost importance to make progress in both fields.

What are recent accomplishments in your research?
Together with my team, I developed an internet intervention for family caregivers for people with dementia, for which I received the 2010 award from Alzheimer Disease International as most promising evidence-based intervention. At the moment we are doing a Randomized Controlled Trial to study the (cost)effectiveness of this intervention.

What are you working on at the moment?
At the Department of Clinical Psychology and the Netherlands Institute on Mental Health (Trimbos), my research is focused on the development of evidence-based interventions.  For older people with common mental health problems like depression, but also for people with dementia and their family caregivers. The interventions range from early prevention to treatment. It includes internetinterventions and the use of technology, such as the use of GPS among people with dementia who are getting lost. We are monitoring the quality of mental health care for older adults and the care for people with dementia for the Ministry of Health to improve the care.

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Annemieke van Straten

Prof. dr. Annemieke van Straten, Professor in Clinical Psychology

Research interests
Mental disorders such as depression and anxiety are highly prevalent in western societies. In the Netherlands, every year, one out of four persons is affected by them. This causes a high burden of disease: one third of all the years lost to disability in the world are caused by mental disorders. My overall research interest is aimed at reducing this burden. More specifically I’m interested in evidence based treatments and the most cost-effective ways to deliver these treatments to those who need it. Central concepts are: low-intensity (Internet) treatments, collaborative care, stepped care and societal perspective.

Background
After my study in clinical Psychology (University of Amsterdam) I worked as a PhD student at the department of Public Health of the University of Amsterdam. It was especially during this period I become aware of, and interested in, evidence based medicine. My PhD project was aimed at quality of care and the extent to which evidence based guidelines were used in daily routine practice. Furthermore I became a qualified epidemiologist in this period. After my PhD I worked for a number of years at the Trimbos-institute. My work there mainly centered around primary mental health care and stepped care. I then worked for a short period at the institute of Health Policy and Management (EUR) where I was involved with the development of performance indicators for mental health. I started working at the VU in 2005.

Current projects
Currently I supervise a number of PhD students. Most projects are aimed at establishing effectiveness of Internet based treatments. These treatments are aimed at different disorders  (depression, phobias, panic disorder, suicidal thoughts, insomnia) and different target groups (adults, adolescents, immigrants, people with co-morbid medical disorders). Some of the projects use the internet as stand alone treatments. While in other projects the internet treatments are embedded in a stepped care approach. Furthermore, I coordinate the academic workplace (AWP) Prezens. Prezens is part of a mental health center which focus on prevention and early treatments (in general practice or mental health care). In this AWP we cooperate closely with the departments of psychiatry, and general practice. The aim is to deliver excellent care, research and education.

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foto Annet Kleiboer

Dr. Annet Kleiboer, Assistant professor

What fascinates you in the area of clinical and developmental psychopathology?
Ever since I started studying psychology I have been interested in how people deal with common symptoms in their daily lives such as depression, anxiety, sleep and fatigue. Moreover, I am intrigued by how some people seem to be dealing well whereas others seem to be struggling their way through life. Finding the best evidence-based psychological treatments for people with common symptoms is what motivates me to do research.

What are recent accomplishments in your research?
In the past decade, the Internet has proven to be a viable way of delivering brief treatments for people with various symptoms and the results are comparable to face-to-face therapies. Web-based treatments are now gradually finding their way to clinical practice. However, many questions remain before widespread implementation can be accomplished such as how we can improve treatment adherence and what the role of support is.

What are you working on at the moment?
Most of my research is centered on brief interventions for people with common symptoms. Within this context, I am keen to do research that contributes to better insight in how to implement web-based treatments such as how we can improve treatment adherence and the role of professional help. Other projects I am involved in are Happy@Work, focusing on employees with depressive symptoms, MyMigraine (in collaboration with Utrecht University) and a study that examines help-seeking behavior in people with subclinical depression.

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Carlo Schuengel

Dr. Carlo Schuengel,  Professor of Clinical Child and Family Studies

Director of the research program “Challenges to child-rearing relationships”
Head of department of Special Education

Research interests
Providing hard evidence for the power of the ‘soft forces’ in life. That probably best summarizes my research mission. Children and adults are shaped by all kinds of forces, some biological, some social, some harsh, some benign. Child rearing and education are about providing an optimal environment for the child to develop in. Some children need this more than others, especially children with physical or intellectual disabilities or traumatic backgrounds. Benign social forces, coming from loving parents, caring teachers, and sensitive youth care professionals, should have the upper hand over harsh, abusive, or careless treatment of children. My research is driven by the recognition that loving, sensitive care is far from ubiquitous. Many well-meaning adult caregivers have to deal with problems of their own, often stemming from growing up in harsh conditions themselves.

Training
My training in understanding child rearing relationships and development started at Leiden University, within the group led by prof. Marinus van IJzendoorn. His group was and is at the forefront of developing the discipline of Education as an empirical scientific discipline, by focusing on the international program of attachment research. My dissertation (1997) describes an empirical test of the intergenerational transmission of attachment disorganization, showing that parents with unresolved loss experiences and insecure attachment representations are likely to behave in ways that are frightening to their infants. As a result, the attachment relationship that develops between the parent and the infant becomes disorganized. Since then, we are learning about the far-reaching consequences of disorganized attachment, in terms of stress physiology and behavioural problems. After we started a research project on the role of attachment in the treatment of disturbed youth within a residential treatment setting, I moved to VU Amsterdam (2000) to lead my own research group.

Current research
The research group “Challenges to child rearing relationships” has been steadily growing over the years, and now does research within a broad array of settings. Theoretically, the research is held together by the focus on attachment and caregiving, in relation to healthy development. With this in mind, we are still discovering new facts about care relationships within therapeutic care settings, foster families, residential care centers, hospitals, and families living regular and unusual circumstances. I am quite happy that over the years fundamental research and applied research have gone hand in hand. It is very satisfying to see the useful and sometimes amazingly effective implementation of fundamental insights by developing and testing assessments, treatment, and support programs. The ‘hard’ evidence comes from relying on a diversity of research methods and designs. Some researchers build a career by mastering one ‘trick’ to the perfection. I like to see researchers being a little more ambitious than that. Questionnaires are cheap and easy to use, but the information they provide is limited in many ways, and not ‘hard’ at all. To become a good and useful research in our field, one has to become an acute observer of human behaviour and interaction, learn to pose the right interview questions in the right order, learn to discern the processes and patterns behind what people are saying, and being highly creative in tapping into the progress that the psychological, psychobiological, and medical sciences are making in the mean time. This is what I hope to bring to the training of bright new researchers in the field of clinical and developmental psychopathology.

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Lydia Krabbendam

Dr. Lydia Krabbendam,  Associate Professor in Neuropsychology

Research
Adolescence is a crucial period for the development of self-regulation and social cognition. It is a period of opportunities, as physical, psychological and social changes dramatically increase the scope of possibilities. At the same time, it is a period of risk: the onset of major mental disorders such as psychosis and addiction all peak during adolescence. Neuropsychological and neuroscientific studies can elucidate the mechanisms underlying both risks and opportunities during adolescence. This is the topic of my research. Specifically, I focus on the neural and cognitive mechanisms underlying normal and abnormal development of self-regulation and social cognition. I conduct basic neuropsychological and fMRI studies, but also studies that focus on the implications for educational and clinical practice.

Training
I obtained my PhD in 2000 in cognitive neuropsychiatry at the Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, Maastricht University, and continued working in that area for several years. Meanwhile, I obtained my clinical registrations as health care psychologist and clinical neuropsychologist. In 2009, I joined the Educational Neuropsychology group at the Department of Special Education here at the VU, broadening my research focus to include normal development. I also hold a Visiting Lectureship at the Department of Psychosis Studies of the Institute of Psychiatry in London.

Current Research
I have a special interest in the use of interactive paradigms or social dilemma’s to study the development of social cognition. Thanks to an NWO VIDI grant I have been able to set up this research line focusing on aberrant development of trust in psychosis. In the near future, I aim to extend this line to include other forms of psychopathology, as well as individual differences in social cognition in the healthy to subclinical range.

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Marcus-Huibers

Prof. Marcus Huibers - Professor of Clinical Psychology and Experimental Psychotherapy

Marcus Huibers is Professor of Clinical Psychology and Experimental Psychotherapy at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, with a cross-appointment as Adjunct Professor at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, United States). His research focuses mainly on treatment strategies for depression, the underlying mechanisms of change and personalized mental health care. He has authored more than 130 publications, and has supervised 12 PhD students. In 2006, he was the first European to become a Beck Institute Scholar, an American award for ‘future leaders in the field of cognitive therapy’. He works as a licensed psychotherapist at GGZ inGeest in Amsterdam, and chairs the Dutch Regulatory College for Psychological Health Care Professions.


Mark van der Gaag

Dr. Mark van der Gaag,  Professor of Clinical Psychology

I am fascinated by psychosis. I have been working as a practitioner-scientist for many years, combining health care development with scientific research. The interesting of psychosis is the interaction between environmental risk factors and the hereditary biological vulnerability. In this field the nature-nurture debate is still ongoing, but this debate is nowadays slowly resolving in an integrated biopsychosocial model of psychiatric illnesses. Odd experiences are mostly driven by a dysfunction of the neurotransmitter dopamine, but the formation and maintenance of delusional explanations of these odd experiences are mainly psychological processes distorted by cognitive biases. And so psychosis is open for psychological therapies to change appraisals and reduce suffering.

At this moment I am involved in a multi-site randomized trial to detect people with an ultrahigh risk for developing psychosis within a year in a help-seeking population. People with an at risk mental status are asked to participate in randomized trial comparing a cognitive-behavioral intervention that aims to prevent or postpone psychosis with treatment as usual.
E-health applications we are developing now is the use of virtual reality to test hypotheses about the triggering stimuli of suspiciousness and the development of VR exposure therapies as a first step to overcome fear and prevent avoidance behavior and paranoia.

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   Marleen de Moor   

Dr. Marleen de Moor

What fascinates you in the area of clinical and developmental psychopathology?
Ever since my study I have been interested in the connection between the “mind” and the “body”. During my PhD I have studied how physical activity (“a moving body”) is related to mental health (“the mind”). I am also interested in how biological factors (e.g. genetic variation, and epigenetic modifications of the DNA) are related to environmental factors (e.g. traumatic experiences, parenting) and how these biological and environmental factors affect various developmental outcomes, such as temperament/personality, anxiety/depression and motor skills/physical activity.

What are recent accomplishments in your research?
In 2015, I have published a large meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies for neuroticism in JAMA Psychiatry. In this study, I identified a genetic variant in a gene that has previously been related to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. We also showed that neuroticism is highly polygenic, that is, it is affected by a very large number of genetic variants with each a very small effect. I am further involved in the longitudinal Generations2 study, in which we follow around 2000 pregnant mothers during pregnancy, and the mothers as well as their children after birth. The oldest children are now 5 years old, and we will continue to follow them at least until they are 8 years old.

What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on several projects within Generations2. We collect saliva in all families for purposes of genome-wide genotyping and genome-wide epigenetic profiling. I co-supervise 2 PhD projects, one about the development and intergenerational transmission of self-control, and the other about parenting and motor development. More broadly, my research focus entails studying the longitudinal development of parenting and mental health in mothers, investigating the development of temperament, self-control and motor skills in children, and examining how mothers’ and children’s development co-occur and impact on each other.

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 Mirjam Oosterman 2011

Dr. Mirjam Oosterman, Associate Professor Special Education

Research Interests
Becoming a parent is a major life transition. All new parents have expectations of parenthood but what may happen when these expectations are challenged by stressful parenting experiences, including for example dealing with a difficult to soothe baby? What determines how successful parents are in their adjustments to parenting challenges and how might that predict parent and child outcomes?

Thanks to grants from ‘Stichting tot Steun Nederland’ and NWO, Carlo Schuengel and I were able to set up Generations2, a large study on the development of parenting and mental health. A cohort of 1500 women in the Amsterdam area is followed through their first pregnancy and the first six years of their children’s lives. The main goal of this study is to provide insight into the mechanisms that predict adaptive and maladaptive parenting as well as to acquire more knowledge about the buffering role of parenting and the parent-child relationship against risk factors for the development of psychopathology, including adverse childhood experiences (such as neglect and abuse) and parental mental health.

Generations2 combines different theoretical frameworks and include processes at multiple levels of functioning, such as the attachment background of new parents, their specific parenting beliefs and attitudes as well as their psychophysiological reactivity to stressful parenting situations. The interplay between psychological and biological processes in the development of relationships have my interest since the start of my academic career. My PhD study (completed in 2007) focused on testing and validating attachment theoretical principles in a not normative sample, children in foster care. An important insight provided by the findings of this study was that the use of psychophysiological measures such as indicators of autonomic nervous system reactivity can provide unique information about the status of relationships as well as be a significant predictor of outcomes of those relationships. After completing my PhD thesis, my research interests became more focused on the role of caregivers in the development of parent-child relationships, in particular the understanding of the intergenerational transmission of attachment.

Current research
Generations2 started in 2009; at this moment (September 2010) more than 600 pregnant women are involved and several focus studies have been started in which intensive and experimental assessments were done in different subsamples, including low and high risk women, women with a migrant background, women with a prenatal diagnosis of congenital abnormalities of their baby and women with mental health problems. Our research team includes scientists and clinicians from different disciplines, including education, psychology, clinical genetics, gynaecology and obstetrics and psychiatry. For more information about Generations2, please visit our website.

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Pim Cuijpers

Dr. Pim Cuijpers , Professor of Clinical Psychology

The disease burden of depression, anxiety disorders and other mental health disorders is enormous. The suffering, both at a personal level and at the societal level is huge. Millions of people suffer from these disorders every year and billions of euros are spent on the treatment. I want to contribute to the reduction of the disease burden of these disorders. I am especially interested in prevention and the possibilities to reduce the incidence of new mental disorders, as well early intervention methods which may help to reduce the time people suffer from it. Science can help us develop such methods. In order to develop preventive and early interventions we need to understand what the causes of the disorders are, and how we can intervene as early as possible in these processes in order to prevent the incidence of new disorders. My research has contributed to the understanding how these disorders emerge and we have developed and examined several interventions to prevent and treat mental health disorders. Internet-based treatments and self-management interventions are very important tools for preventing and treating depression and anxiety disorders. Several of the treatments I have developed are used in routine care on a large scale.

My research at this moment focuses on the development of psychological interventions for depression and examining whether these interventions are effective in treating mental disorders. In my group, we conduct many randomized controlled trials to examine psychological interventions for mental disorders. For example, we compare internet-based self-help with professional support to internet-based self-help without support, in order to understand whether is is necessary to have personal contact with a professional in order to be effective. We also examine, for example, whether internet-based treatment of phobias in specialized mental health care is equally effective as routine treatment and maybe more cost-effective. Another example is a EU project in which we develop interventions for the mobile phone, which does not only include psychological treatments but also sensors which register the use of medication, and activity levels. Most of my research is funded by grants from ZonMw.

I am also involved in a series of meta-analyses of psychological treatments of depression. In the past few years my group has built a database of all randomized controlled trials examining the effects of psychotherapy for adult depression. We have written a series of meta-analyses in which we have systematically examined which psychological treatments are effective and for which patients. More information you can find on the website of this project.

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Sander Begeer

Dr. Sander Begeer,  Associate Professor in Developmental Psychology

What fascinates you in the area of clinical and developmental psychopathology?
I am interested in both fundamental and applied questions about normal and abnormal development. The focus on clinical groups, in my case children with autism, highlights how special it is when children develop in ‘normal’ ways. We often take the social and emotional skills of young children for granted, even though they don’t receive any formal education in these domains. The development of, for instance, perspective taking or empathy in young children who have no psychopathology is fascinating, and studying clinical groups enables us to appreciate this.

What are recent accomplishments in your research?
I just returned from working in Sydney, Australia, as a research fellow for two years. Over there I focused on the different domains of social cognition and empathy in children and adults. Among other things we looked at the underlying physiological responses during empathic behavior in children with autism, conduct problems or typical development. We recently also published various papers which shed a different light on empathy and autism. Their understanding of others and their basic empathic skills seem to be less impaired than previously thought, but their responses are very diverse, and there is a strong need to focus on factors underlying this diversity (see www.ara.vu.nl).

What are you working on at the moment?
I am working on a large longitudinal cohort of individuals with autism (www.nederlandsautismeregister.nl), that will enable us to study why individuals with autism vary in their development. Some of these individuals become university professors, others are fully institutionalized. We want to understand what factors predict these differences, so we can use them for interventions. I also study the effect of interventions directly, in collaboration with de Bascule in Amsterdam. After studying psychometrics and theoretical psychology at the University of Amsterdam, I worked as a lecturer at the University of Amsterdam and a research assistant at Sussex University, Brighton, UK. Theoretical questions regarding the philosophy of mind paved the way for subsequent empirical work on children at the VU Amsterdam. My interest in the development of Theory of Mind, or empathic skills, resulted in a PhD on the social skills of children with autism, entitled ‘Social and emotional skills and understanding of children with autism spectrum disorders’ in 2005 at the VU Amsterdam.

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 Sander Koole foto

Dr. Sander Koole,  Associate Professor in Developmental Psychology

What fascinates you in the area of clinical and developmental psychopathology?
I am interested in the broad question how people manage, or regulate, their own emotions. Although emotion regulation works pretty well for most people most of the time, there are also instances when people lose control over their emotions.  Such emotion dysregulation is associated with the onset and maintenance of many psychological problems, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance abuse.  I want to find out why emotion regulation succeeds or fails and how we can help people to gain more control over their emotional life.

What are recent accomplishments in your research?
Much of my research so far has addressed how emotion regulation may unfold on implicit, or nonconscious levels. Traditionally, psychologists have thought of emotion regulation as something that people do consciously and intentionally. Our research suggests, however, that implicit processes are also important to understanding adaptive emotion regulation. This research opens a new perspective on the emotion regulation deficits that we see in psychological disorders. Perhaps psychological disorders arise because people are not successful in recruiting the implicit processes that are needed for emotion regulation to work.

What are you working on at the moment?
Most of my current research is focused on the role of the body in emotion regulation. Contemporary research has largely ignored the body in emotion regulation, by placing most emphasis on cognitive strategies for emotion regulation like distraction or reappraisal. My colleagues and I suspect that this view is too limited. Our preliminary research indicates that embodied processes may indeed facilitate adaptive emotion regulation. You can find out more about our work at our website, http://emotionregulationlab.com/

Personal website

Yujie Ma

Student

YujieMa

"I chose Clinical and Developmental Psychopathology as my master's programme for two reasons. Firstly, the curriculum helps me learn more about understanding the core features and symptoms of psychopathological disorders. Secondly, as mentioned in the programme description, this Research Master's indeed bridges the gap between research and practice, with a strong emphasize on doing research work. You have many opportunities to seek interesting research topics either in clinical or developmental psychology areas. As a foreigner student, I've gotten much academic support from my professors and teachers. I look forward to my future study period here at VU Amsterdam."

Dutch students

Who is the Master’s for?
We require our students to be highly motivated and to have a genuine interest in research in the field of Clinical and Developmental Psychopathology. We are looking for students who are committed and who have potential for growth. 

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) in Psychology or Education
  • Related academic bachelor’s degree (approved by the admissions committee)
  • Completed introductory level course in clinical diagnosis and assessment of mental health problems and risks
  • GPA of 7.5 (e.g. B) or higher, with an 8 (B+) or higher for your final thesis
  • A satisfactory result in the entrance assignment (see below).
  • Proven proficiency in English, see language proficiency requirements
  • A written motivational letter, explaining the choice for this Research Master
  • Two letters of recommendation from a professor of the university at which the applicant has undertaken the primary degree
  • A personal interview may be part of the application procedure if the committee judges it necessary

Additional requirements

  • Also eligible to apply are applicants in the final year of their academic bachelor’s programme, provided that the degree will be conferred prior to the start of the Research Master’s programme in September. These applicants have to provide a provisional record of courses and grades, signed by the university’s student administrator. 
  • Methods and statistics are an essential part of our programme. Here you find a quick test that will give you an insight in what skills and knowledge are required to successfully take part in our programme.

How to apply?

Selection assignment   
Soon after we have received your request for admission you will be sent the selection assignment. This involves the study of an empirical scientific article and the discussion of research ideas related to it. You will have two weeks to complete the assignment and return it to us. The Admissions Committee will then evaluate your assignment, as well as the information you provided with your request of admission. You will be notified of the result in two weeks time, and we also notify the central student administration, so they can update your status in Studylink.

Admissions Committee
The Admissions committee will evaluate your application, and in case of a positive decision, send you an official Admission letter. We will also inform the central student administration, and they will update your status in Studielink.

Application deadline for Dutch students

Tuition fees


Contact
General information:
studiekeuze.fgb@vu.nl

Information on study related issues as courses, study programme and study choice:
Study advisor
studieadvies.fgb@vu.nl

Order a brochure 

Information days
7 December: VU Master's Evening

Graduate School Faculty of Behavioural and Human Movement Sciences
Read more about objectives and activities of the School and PhD training track, the PhD Education Committee (PEC) and the organization of the Graduate School.

International students


Who is the Master’s for?
We require our students to be highly motivated and to have a genuine interest in research in the field of Clinical and Developmental Psychopathology. We are looking for students who are committed and who have potential for growth. 

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) in Psychology or Education
  • Related academic bachelor’s degree (approved by the admissions committee)
  • Completed introductory level course in clinical diagnosis and assessment of mental health problems and risks
  • GPA of 7.5 (e.g. B) or higher, with an 8 (B+) or higher for your final thesis
  • A satisfactory result in the entrance assignment (see below)
  • Proven proficiency in English, see language proficiency requirements
  • A written motivational letter, explaining the choice for this Research Master
  • Two letters of recommendation from a professor of the university at which the applicant has undertaken the primary degree
  • A personal interview may be part of the application procedure if the committee judges it necessary

Additional requirements

  • Also eligible to apply are applicants in the final year of their academic bachelor’s programme, provided that the degree will be conferred prior to the start of the Research Master’s programme in September. These applicants have to provide a provisional record of courses and grades, signed by the university’s student administrator. 
  • Methods and statistics are an essential part of our programme. Here you find a quick test that will give you an insight in what skills and knowledge are required to successfully take part in our programme.

How to apply?

Selection assignment   
Soon after we have received your request for admission you will be sent the selection assignment. This involves the study of an empirical scientific article and the discussion of research ideas related to it. You will have two weeks to complete the assignment and return it to us. The Admissions Committee will then evaluate your assignment, as well as the information you provided with your request of admission. You will be notified of the result in two weeks time, and we also notify the central student administration, so they can update your status in Studylink.

Admissions Committee
The Admissions committee will evaluate your application, and in case of a positive decision, send you an official Admission letter. We will also inform the central student administration, and they will update your status in Studielink.

Application deadlines for international degree holders 

The following deadlines apply if you are applying to a Master’s programme on the basis of a non-Dutch university degree. Applications received after the deadlines cannot be taken into consideration!

  • 1 February: Students with international degrees who are planning and qualified to apply for our VU FP and/or HSP scholarship programmes.
  • 1 April: Non-EU/EEA students with an international degree who need services from the International Office (housing (optional) and visa procedure). EU/EEA students with an international degree who need services of the International Office (housing*).
  • 1 June: EU/EEA students with an international degree without services of the International Office.
Foreign students with a Dutch degree who do not need housing, and only need a change of residence permit - please click here.


* Although we can only guarantee accommodation for EU students who applied before 1 April, there is still a good chance of being offered accommodation if you apply before the 1 June deadline.

Tuition fees

VU Fellowship Programme (VUFP)

VU Amsterdam provides scholarships through the VU Fellowship Programme. This scholarship is for students who have excellent study results and are strongly motivated. Non- Dutch students admitted to the Research Master’s programme, will automatically receive an application form for the VU FPP Scholarship. We aim to notify successful applicants by the end of June.
More information and application VUFP

Other grants

  • Students in China and Taiwan can contact their local NESO offices (Netherlands Education Support Office) in either Beijing or Taipei: NESO Office Beijing or NESO Office Taipei.
  • Indonesian students can contact their NESO Office Jakarta for more detailed information.
  • All other students may contact Nuffic, the Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education, or visit Grantfinder, about studying in the Netherlands and financial aid, or their local Royal Netherlands Embassy.

Information on practical matters (application & registration procedure, admission requirements, scholarships, etc.):
Wytske Siegersma
International student advisor
admissionsfbms@vu.nl

Information on study related issues as courses, study programme and study choice:
Study advisor
studieadvies.fgb@vu.nl

Order a brochure 
Information Days

Graduate SchoolFaculty of Behavioural and Human Movement Sciences
Read more about objectives and activities of the School and PhD training track, the PhD Education Committee (PEC) and the organization of the Graduate School.

Dominique Maciejewski

Student

Photo_DominiqueMaciejewski_CDP_GoodPractice

"I chose this research master's program, because I am interested in abnormal psychology and wanted to combine both clinical and developmental approaches. When I learned about the research master's in Clinical and Developmental Psychopathology at VU Amsterdam, I directly knew that this was the perfect program for me.

It offers a great range of different perspectives on mental health and provides you with all the tools that are necessary to study it. Because we are such a small group, you know all of your fellow students and professors, which makes communicating and working together really pleasant. I feel I have already learned so much after my first year, specifically with regard to critical thinking and writing scientific articles. Moreover, most of our teaching staff are international experts in their field and really encourage you to conduct high quality research.

In this program, I learn exactly the skills that I need to pursue with my research career and obtain a PhD afterwards. Also, I love living in Amsterdam, because it is the most vivid, interesting, and creative city I have ever seen."