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Dr E.M.W.J. Utens (1959) has been named professor by special appointment of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for children and adolescents at the University of Amsterdam's (UvA) Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. The chair was established on behalf of the Dutch Mary Cover Jones Foundation.

Prof Lisbeth Utens
Credits: Dirk Gillissen

Lisbeth Utens' line of research features two pillars. She conducts research into the effects of cognitive behavioural therapy on children and teenagers suffering from anxiety disorders. Additionally, she studies psychosocial outcomes, particularly anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress, in children with a physical disorder (such as congenital heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, cystic fibrosis and HIV) as well as the influence of anaesthesia and psychological preparation of children for surgery. Her research includes examining which factors predict these psychosocial outcomes in the long term. She has carried out both cross-sectional and longitudinal patient-related studies and in recent years has focused primarily on intervention studies, including the effectiveness of cognitive behavioural therapy on anxiety and depression in adolescents with inflammatory bowel diseases, and the effects of sports activities on emotional problems in adolescents with congenital heart disease.

Utens has adapted and translated cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) protocols for children, including pre-school children, school children and teenagers suffering from anxiety disorders, for children with bowel disease and for children with congenital heart disease. She has tested the effectiveness of these protocols in clinical practice and also contributed to testing a CBT protocol in a school environment. The protocols she has translated and researched have been used on a large scale, nationwide, for some 15 years now by cognitive behavioural therapists for children with anxiety disorders as well as by prevention workers at schools.

As professor, Utens will focus on the innovation of healthcare for adolescents suffering from anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder and tics. A further focus area is the promotion of the quality of scientific research and education on anxiety disorders among adolescents. She will collaborate in this area with the UvA department of Child Development and Education, the Bascule Academic Centre for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the AMC-VUmc-Bascule Academic Workplace for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

About Lisbeth Utens

Utens has been working for the Bascule and the UvA since October 2016. She is a clinical psychologist registered in the Dutch BIG register of healthcare professionals. In addition to her appointment at the UvA, she works as associate professor in the department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry/Psychology at the Erasmus University Medical Centre-Sophia Children's Hospital, where she also fulfils the role of research coordinator for Paediatric Psychology. In 1989, Utens graduated with honours (cum laude) in Clinical Psychology at the Katholieke Universiteit Brabant (now called Tilburg University).

Utens is an extraordinary member of the Dutch Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapy (VGCt). She serves as the chairperson of the National Network of Paediatric Psychology (Pediatrische Psychologie-NL) and is a member of the Steering committee of the Psychosocial Working Group of the European Association of Paediatric Cardiology. Utens has funded her research from the numerous external grants she has acquired. Under her supervision, eight PhD candidates have now completed their doctoral thesis on her line of research. Utens has authored numerous international articles which have been published in authoritative academic journals, including the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and the European Heart Journal.