The seventh network meeting for NSMD researchers, joined by 35 members of the consortium, evolved around ‘the future of case formulation in clinical psychology’ and an EMA-based pilot with young adults with cannabis use problems and their personalized networks. 

Julian Burger, postdoctoral researcher at Yale University and NSMD fellow gave an interesting presentation entitled ‘The future of case formulation in clinical psychology: Advancements in network modeling and simulation-based science’. Case formulations are explanations co-created by clinician and client for the client’s psychological, social, and behavioral problems. In clinical practice, case formulations are used to tailor interventions to the specific problems, needs, and resources of the client. 

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However, the process of creating case formulations is complex and requires integrating a broad range of information about the client’s experiences. The presentation discussed methods to facilitate and advance this process, specifically focusing on statistical network models of psychological symptoms and computer simulations. Burger introduced a new approach to systematically integrate case formulations with statistical networks, and demonstrated how these models can be used to inform case formulations. Further, he showcases how computer simulations can be used to improve the accuracy and predictions of case formulations. The presentation applied these methods to a range of psychological problems, including depression, generalized anxiety disorder, eating disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic disorder. Burger concluded with a discussion on the feasibility of these methods in clinical practice, and the steps that are required to introduce them into therapy.

PhD candidate Alessandra Mansueto presented on her project: ‘How does cannabis work for me? Personalized ecological momentary assessment, personalized networks, and collaborative communication within a short intervention for cannabis use problems in young adults.’ Each person is a unique and complex system. How can we collaboratively communicate with our clients to understand their system, and consequently improve personalized psychological interventions? Mansueto presented a preclinical pilot randomized controlled trial with 26 young adults who wanted help to stop or diminish their cannabis use. Psychology interns gave them a two-sessions intervention including motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral techniques. Additionally, only the experimental group filled in (personalized) EMA five times per day for three weeks before the first intervention session. Psychology interns included participant-specific hypotheses in the case conceptualizations, which they then tested using an application developed for this study to explore the EMA data with descriptive graphs and to estimate personalized networks. The output was discussed with the participants in the first intervention session to collaboratively understand their cannabis use mechanisms, and could be used to add information to the functional analysis and consequently aid the choice of coping strategies. The research team recorded intervention sessions, collected pictures of the functional analyses, conducted semi-structured interviews with the participants and psychology interns, and collected outcome data on substance use and mental health at four waves. In this talk Mansueto presented their approach and feedback application with practical examples from the study, and some very preliminary results.”I have a network of questions, one question leads to the next”, she concluded her talk; a very accurate synonym for scientific research. To be continued!

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