Universiteit Leiden

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PhD candidate Clinical Psychology

Vacancy number
22-346 11825
Job type
PhD positions
Hours (in fte)
External/ internal
Placed on
24 May 2022
Closing date
7 June 2022 Vacancy closed

The section Clinical Psychology of the institute of Psychology of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences is looking for a

PhD candidate Clinical Psychology
 (1,00 FTE)  
Vacancy number  22-346 11825

Title of the project: Parenting and children’s recovery of trauma from a network perspective

Project description
In the 10-year Gravitation Project ‘New Science of Mental Disorders (NSMD)’, a large consortium of researchers from 5 Dutch universities aims to further develop network theory and network methodology, and test the framework’s value and usefulness for personalized treatment and relapse prevention in clinical mental health practice. From this perspective, clinical symptoms, such as insomnia or sadness, are not passive consequences of one underlying disorder, but rather active causal elements within a complex dynamic system. Currently, 8 PhD students are involved in this consortium, focusing on specific aspects of the network approach of mental disorders. In these projects, dynamic network models are commonly used to estimate relations among symptoms within (a group of) individuals across time (e.g., insomnia -> sadness). The present project is the second PhD project within the ‘Communicating Networks’ Team of NSMD (lead by Prof. Bernet Elzinga) that extends this framework to interacting networks between individuals.

PhD project Parenting and children’s recovery of trauma

After children have been exposed to a traumatic event, parents may have a significant impact on their offspring’s (un)successful adaptation. To gain new insights in how parents’ feelings and behaviours can dynamically impact children’s PTSD symptoms and treatment response, the project has three aims:

1) To examine the impact of parental behaviors on children’s PTSD and associated psychopathological symptoms in daily life using ecological momentary assessments (EMA) and questionnaires (at baseline);

 2) To investigate childrens daily fluctuations of PTSD and associated symptoms during a 4-week course of intensified trauma-focused treatment and assess how parental behaviors affect fluctuations of childrens symptoms on a daily basis;

3) To develop a variant of the intensified trauma-focused treatment in which parents are actively involved to assess whether trauma-sensitive parental behaviors are associated with reductions in children’s PTSD during the course of the treatment.

This project has a strong clinical focus while it also involves complex statistical methodology (i.e., mlVAR). The PhD-student will have several tasks: Identify empirically-based parenting factors that can influence children’s PTSD symptoms and that can be assessed on a daily basis using EMA. Second, help to implement an intensified trauma-focused treatment in youth clinics in Leiden and Maastricht (as a member of a larger clinical research team) and develop a treatment variant in which parents are actively involved. Conduct clinical studies and a series of case studies, based on daily assessments of symptoms and behaviors in parents and children before, during and after trauma-focused treatments. Other tasks will be analyzing data and writing at least 4 articles. About 10% of student’s time will be spent on teaching activities, e.g., via the supervision of bachelor and master theses. The specific aspects of this project can be adapted and further extended based on the student’s interests and expertise. In our team we are strong advocates of open science principles, such as pre-registration, and we encourage active discussions and the exchange of ideas within the research group.

Selection criteria

  • Master's degree (preferably Research Master) in Clinical Psychology, Developmental Psychology, or a related study program;
  • Interest in trauma-focused interventions for children (11-18 years);
  • Interest in interdisciplinary research, from clinical research on family dynamics and trauma to network theory and network psychometrics;
  • You have strong analytic and statistical skills;
  • Clinical experience is a pre;
  • You are an enthusiastic researcher with the ambition to become a top scientist;
  • You enjoy working in a team and you have good social skills;
  • You are creative and autonomous thinker.

Our organisation
While the PhD project involves a collaboration between Leiden University and Maastricht University, the PhD will be based in the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences of Leiden University. This Faculty comprises five institutes: Education and Child Studies, Political Science, Psychology, Cultural Anthropology & Development Sociology and the Centre for Science and Technology Studies. The Faculty is home to 7,000 students and 1025 members of staff. Our teaching and research programmes cover diverse topics varying from adoption to political behaviour. For more information, see https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/social-behavioural-sciences. 

Terms and conditions
The appointment should preferably start on September 2022. We offer a full-time position of initially one year, with the prospect of a total of 4 years of employment. The position consists of 90% research and 10% teaching. Salary range from € 2,443.- to €3.122.- gross per month on a full-time basis (pay scale PhD, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. More at https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/working-at/job-application-procedure-and-employment-conditions.

Diversity and inclusion
Fostering an inclusive community is a central element of the values and vision of Leiden University. Leiden University is committed to becoming an inclusive community which enables all students and staff to feel valued and respected and to develop their full potential. Diversity in experiences and perspectives enriches our teaching and strengthens our research. High quality teaching and research is inclusive.

Professional network

The supervisory team consists of Prof. Dr. Bernet Elzinga (UL), Dr. Bart Verkuil (UL), Marie-Louise Kullberg (UL), and Prof. dr. Peter Muris (UM). The student will become a junior member of the Flemish-Dutch research school Experimental Psychopathology (EPP), will be embedded in the large-scale Gravitation consortium, and can participate in numerous formal and informal network theoretical and network psychometric events that occur regularly across the Netherlands. The PhD candidate will follow relevant courses in the fields of statistical analyses and writing skills.

For more information about the vacancy, please contact Prof. Dr. Bernet Elzinga (elzinga@fsw.leidenuniv.nl).

Please submit online your application
 no later than June 7th via the blue button in our application system. Applicants should submit online a letter of interest accompanied by a CV.

Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.

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