LOUPS Developmental Psychology Conference 2019
In 2019 we took the opportunity to look at how psychology might explain some of the emergence of behaviour and ability in early years. Our speakers presented their latest research on a range of fascinating contemporary phenomena and their psychological implications.
Professor Eamon McCrory (University College London)
How neuroscience is helping to motivate a preventative psychiatry approach: latent vulnerability and the impact of childhood maltreatment.
Eamon McCrory is Professor of Developmental Neuroscience and Psychopathology at UCL and Director of the Developmental Risk and Resilience Unit. His research uses brain imaging and psychological approaches to investigate the impact of maltreatment on emotional development. He is also Director of Postgraduate Studies at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and visiting Professor at the Yale Child Study Centre.
Childhood adversity, in the form of maltreatment and neglect, is one of the strongest predictors of later mental health problems across childhood, adolescence andadulthood. However, the epigenetic and neurobiological mechanisms by which childhood adversity 'gets under the skin' remain poorly understood.
Eamon will introduce the concept of Latent Vulnerability as a way to think about how maltreatment exposure can calibrate a range of biological and neurocognitive systems in response to a threatening and unpredictable early environment. Changes to these systems are arguably adaptive in the short term. However, he will consider how these changes may embed Latent Vulnerability over the longer term, increasing the risk that mental health problems will emerge when a child negotiates new challenges and stressors later in development. Implications for intervention and the rationale for an increasing focus on preventative intervention will be considered.
No material available as the information presented was awaiting publication
Professor Cathy Creswell (University of Reading)
‘From understanding maintenance mechanisms to improving access to effective treatments for child anxiety disorders’
Cathy Creswell is Professor of Developmental Clinical Psychology at the University of Reading, an Honorary Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Joint Director of the University of Reading Anxiety and Depression in Young people (AnDY) research unit. She was awarded the British Psychological Society May Davidson award for outstanding contribution to Clinical Psychology within 10 years of qualifying and was the first clinical psychologist to be awarded an NIHR Research Professorship (2014-2019).
Cathy has particular research and clinical interests in the development and treatment of anxiety disorders in children and young people, and applies experimental, longitudinal, and clinical trial methodologies with children, in both community (including school) and clinical settings, with the ultimate aim of improving access and outcomes for children with these common conditions. In addition to academic publications, she has co-written self-help books for parents, including 'Overcoming your child's fears and worries' (Little Brown), and a recent practice guide for clinicians, ‘Parent-Led CBT for Child Anxiety: Helping Parents Help Their Kids’ (Guilford Press).
Anxiety disorders in children are common, interfere substantially in day to day life, and often run a chronic course. Effective psychological therapies for childhood anxiety disorders have been established yet very few children in need access them. This talk will illustrate how research in to mechanisms that contribute to the maintenance of child anxiety disorders alongside research in to families’ experiences of accessing support can be used to develop novel psychological interventions that have the potential to increase access to psychological therapies for children with these common difficulties.
Professor Robin Banerjee (University of Sussex)
‘Young people’s social and emotional skills, relationships, and well-being’
Robin Banerjee is Professor of Developmental Psychology at the University of Sussex, where he directs the university’s CRESS (Children’s Relationships, Emotions, and Social Skills) research lab, leading investigations of children's social and emotional functioning, and working closely with practitioners and policymakers in the areas of education and mental health.
Recent studies from the CRESS lab have examined the factors involved in peer acceptance and rejection, the social and cognitive processes involved in childhood social anxiety, and the connections between consumer culture, peer relationships, and well-being in school children. A core applied focus of the CRESS lab is the development and evaluation of school-based strategies to support pupils' social and emotional functioning.
In this presentation, Robin will outline key advances in our understanding of socio-emotional development and well-being in children and young people, and discuss how these are connected with programmes designed to promote ’Social and Emotional Learning’ (SEL) in schools. He will consider the implications of his research for promoting positive social relationships and mental health in schools and other youth settings.
Dr Rosa Hoekstra
'Developmental disorders in low resource settings: perspectives from Ethiopia'
Dr Rosa Hoekstra is a lecturer at King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience. After finishing her PhD in Behaviour Genetics at the VU University in Amsterdam, she continued her research through a Rubicon postdoctoral fellowship at Cambridge University’s Autism Research Centre. Since 2009 she combines her autism research with teaching in the field of Psychology, first at The Open University (2009-2015) and now at King's College London (2015-present).
Her research interests broadly cover two themes: 1) Furthering the understanding of the heterogeneity of autism, by developing and validating quantitative instruments to assess the variable expression of the autism phenotype and its cognitive characteristics, and exploring the genetic and environmental factors influencing autistic traits using twin and family study designs and 2) Global perspectives on autism with a specific focus on Africa.
Our current understanding of autism and other developmental disorders is primarily based on research conducted in high-income countries, predominantly in North America and Europe. There is now an increased recognition that more global perspectives on autism are needed. With colleagues at Addis Ababa University Rosa tries to contribute to these widening perspectives by carrying out a range of studies on autism in Ethiopia. In this talk she will present findings from four studies: i) a situational analysis describing the current service provision for children with autism in Ethiopia; ii) a survey in caregivers of children with a developmental disorder, exploring their unmet needs and challenges; iii) an intervention study evaluating the impact of a brief training for community health workers on raising autism awareness; iv) a pilot study exploring the feasibility of a caregiver skills training for parents of children with developmental disorders in Ethiopia. Implications of these studies for future service development in low-income countries, as well as for service delivery to diverse populations in high-income settings will be discussed.