Keynote speakers

Yvonne Brehmer
Full Professor at Tilburg University, Developmental Psychology Department

Successful Aging from a Lifespan Perspective

Western societies are aging due to declining birth rates and enhanced life expectancy. The number of individuals aged 60 years or older is expected to double within the next 30 years, reaching around two billion. This global shift to older populations comes with major individual and societal challenges, as aging is the strongest risk factor for multi-morbidity and dementia. The concept of “successful aging” has increased in popularity, even though sometimes discussed quite critically. Various models of successful aging advocate for optimizing biological aging processes, reducing age-related diseases, and maintaining functional abilities to promote well-being in older age. Social participation, leisure opportunities, grandchild care, volunteering opportunities, seems to be crucial to enhance health and well-being of older adults leading to higher quality of life and reduced pressures on healthcare systems. In this presentation, I will discuss the term “successful aging” as a multi-dimensional concept, which needs to be emphasized in its dynamic nature influenced by personal, cognitive, and social factors across the lifespan. I will refer to studies conducted at Tilburg University, with the ultimate goal to foster an inclusive society, which allows equal opportunities for all age groups, including older adults.

Anna Lichtwarck-Aschoff
Full Professor at University of Groningen, Department of Pedagogical and Educational Sciences, unit Child and Family Welfare (Orthopedagogiek)

Tipping Points in Treatment Trajectories

There is growing recognition of psychopathology as an intricate phenomenon characterized by significant diversity within diagnostic classifications, comorbidities, and temporal fluctuations. Evidence is amassing, indicating that psychopathology reflects individualized experiences, stemming from a complex interplay among interdependent biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors. Complex adaptive systems is an interdisciplinary framework adept at encompassing the dynamic, multi-causal, and idiosyncratic nature of psychopathology, providing insights and tools to conceptualize and manage pattern formation and (therapeutic) change. A significant part of my research in the past years centers around the hypothesis that the general goal of treatment is to break the rigid state associated with psychopathology and shake loose old patterns, to trigger a qualitative shift towards more healthy and flexible patterns of functioning. In this talk I will present studies in various target groups and treatment contexts, employing different designs and methods. A general approach that we take is to collect data on (many) contextualized individual change processes. This method allows the bottom-up accumulation of broader, universally applicable insights into mechanisms of change, which can then be extrapolated across diverse contexts, temporal stages, and diverse populations. Ultimately our goal is to inform daily practice about how to dynamically personalize interventions (i.e., better target and timely adapt intervention efforts to the particulars of individual clients).

Matteo Giletta
Associate Professor at Ghent University, Department of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology

The impact of psychosocial stress in adolescence

Adolescence represents a uniquely sensitive developmental period for the impact of psychosocial stress on health. Neurobiological and psychosocial changes associated with the onset of puberty increase adolescents’ sensitivity to their social context and influence how they respond to stressful events. These profound changes play a critical role in increasing adolescents’ vulnerability to develop stress-related psychopathologies, such as anxiety and depressive symptoms, which dramatically raise with the transition to adolescence. Given the concerning number of adolescents reporting stress-related clinical symptoms and their (long-term) individual and societal burdens, understanding the processes through which psychosocial stress may impact adolescents’ lives remains highly relevant. In this talk, I will present a series of studies examining how stress exposure in adolescence may interfere with a variety of biological (e.g., HPA-axis and immune system activity) and psychological (e.g., daily-life emotion regulation) processes. These studies adopt an interdisciplinary approach that combines theories across different research fields, and utilize diverse methodologies, including ecological momentary assessments as well as standardized laboratory paradigms. Altogether, this work aims to shed lights on the complex mechanisms through which stress exposure, and how adolescents respond to it, may pose risk to their mental health and long-term development.

Organising committee
Manon van Scheppingen (Chair)

Iris Frowijn
Jessie Hillekens
Nessa Ikani
Valentina Macias
Lisanne de Moor
Eeske van Roekel
Annet Toornstra