Team Communicating Networks

While the popular network approach to psychopathology has mainly focused on the relationships between the various symptoms or behaviors within a given person, little is known about the key social processes that play a role in the activation and reduction of psychological symptoms. The aim of the team Communicating Networks is therefore to study how an individual’s symptom network interacts with those of his or her significant others, with a specific focus on parents and children. 

The period from 10 to 22 years of age is when individuals are most susceptible to developing mental disorders. Family interactions are strong transdiagnostic predictors of mental disorders in adolescents. This indicates that, despite their growing autonomy and increased cognitive skills, adolescents still greatly rely on their parents for their emotional wellbeing. However, adolescents are not just passive recipients, and their mood and behaviour also greatly influence the quality of their daily interactions with their parents. 

It is not yet known whether and how parent-child interactions trigger or buffer specific symptoms within an adolescent’s symptom network, and how feedback mechanisms between an adolescent and his or her parents exactly work. Based on daily assessments of the electronic diaries of adolescents with a mental disorder (such as depression and anxiety) and their parents, the team will use state-of-the-art network methodology to study the role of parental behaviour in the reactivation, maintenance and buffering of adolescents’ symptoms. The team will also assess whether helping to change the mindset of parents regarding these symptoms and facilitating adaptive coping and positive parenting techniques can alleviate adolescents’ symptoms. 

The ultimate goal of the Communicating Networks team is to develop innovative, evidence-based treatment modules that enhance overall treatment efficacy for adolescents by adding personalised training for parents to their treatment protocols. 

Principal Investigator
Team members
PhD candidate