As a scientific researcher, Paul van der Heijden is interested in the challenges in diagnostic decision-making in mental healthcare and psychological diagnostics of cognitive functions, personality, and psychopathology. He also conducts research into the early recognition of personality problems.
“The starting point of every care track within mental healthcare is an assessment of strengths and psychological symptoms, the cause of the symptoms, and what support would be appropriate. But how do you act as a healthcare professional in mental healthcare if there is no “gold standard”? After all, we do not know exactly what a mental disorder is nor what psychological health means exactly. So how can you still arrive at a careful diagnosis or assessment of the degree of recovery?” says Van der Heijden.
On the basis of the teaching and research remit, research will be conducted into a scientifically sound alternative to traditional diagnoses in mental health care. This alternative is preferably less stigmatising, personal, and focused on recovery. Within the teaching and research remit, a new method of diagnosis and assessment will be developed that healthcare professionals can use to identify the unique characteristics and context of each client. It will also examine how recovery from symptoms and personal and social function can be charted in different phases of life.
About Paul van der Heijden
Paul van der Heijden (Eindhoven, 1975) studied psychology at Radboud University Nijmegen. He obtained his doctorate in 2002 with his thesis on the reliability and validity of a psychological test that is widely used in mental healthcare for diagnosing clients with mental health problems. Van der Heijden works as a clinical psychologist and senior scientific researcher at the Centre for Adolescent Psychiatry, part of the Reinier van Arkel group.
Since 2017, he has been responsible for the practical education in the continued psychology programmes for becoming a healthcare psychologist, psychotherapist, and clinical psychologist specialist. He is also the acting head educator and head lecturer of diagnostics for the training programme for clinical psychologist specialist of Stichting Postdoctorale Opleidingen Nijmegen (foundation for Nijmegen postdoctoral education) and the Radboud Centre for Social Sciences.