The research of Monica Dhar is aimed at improving mental health in children and adolescents. Her research efforts are focused on cognitive control and emotion regulation. Another goal of her research is to optimize existing treatment protocols and develop new evidence-based ones. She aims to bridge the gap between insights from fundamental research and clinical practice, by translating research findings to the clinical field. Monica Dhar has expertise in both developmental and cognitive psychology. She is particularly interested in developmental disorders and has a strong methodological background in experimental psychology (designing paradigms, programming skills), and event-related potential (ERP) studies (including advanced source localization and topographical mapping analyses).
Supporting the development of self-regulation in infants: a promising strategy in preventive mental health care.
AbstractA major challenge of the newborn child is to learn to regulate internal states (physiological, emotional, and cognitive) and behavior. The child's self-regulation stems from successful co-regulation between the baby and its caregiver(s) and constitutes the basis of mental health. Regulation problems (RP) in early childhood are the seeds for emergent developmental psychopathology and for persistent mental health problems later in life. Given the increasing pressure on our mental health care system, targeting RP at an early age is a cost-effective prevention strategy. Based on growing empirical and clinical evidence, we hypothesize that child RP largely result from/persist through co-regulation difficulties within the child-parent dyad, which itself is largely impacted by stress and regulation difficulties in the parent. Hence, reducing stress and enhancing parents' regulation abilities may be the most optimal gateway for improving self-regulation in the child, thereby preventing future mental health problems. To date, however, there is a dearth of scientific research on this topic, both with respect to the (1) characterization, detection and understanding of regulation (problems) (WP1&2), and (2) the organization of preventive care around early regulation in young children (WP3&4). The current proposal will address these gaps in 4 work packages aimed at: (1) quantifying micro self- and co-regulation dynamics within a 'biobehavioral synchrony framework'; (2) understanding the prevalence and contextual risk and protective factors of RP; (3) pinpointing the missed opportunities in the preventive care for young children with RP and translating 3rd line clinical expertise to fill these gaps and (4) developing and testing a 0th/1st line health care program empowering parents in the co-regulation process with their child. Together with our committed stakeholders, this multidisciplinary project aims to be a game changer in the early prevention of mental health care.
- Research Project
The development of an emotion coaching intervention for parents.
AbstractEmotion regulation is a transdiagnostic mechanism that, when maladaptive, underlies mental health problems such as internalising and externalising disorders (e.g. anxiety, depression, behavioural problems). Children with adaptive emotion regulation skills are better equipped to regulate their behaviour and have better mental health outcomes. Therefore, emotion regulation is acknowledged as an important skill to develop in children in order to prevent psychopathology. Parents play a major role in the development of their children's emotion regulation abilities (through modelling, creating a secure family environment and parenting). At first, children learn to regulate their emotions externally by relying on their parents for emotional support and problem solving when stressed. Gradually, they internalise these abilities and become more self-sufficient in this regard and are better able to cope with stressors on their own. So, parents play a crucial part in the initial phase of emotional development. Adequate coaching of a child's emotional behaviour can act as a protective factor for mental health. Therefore, the aim of this project is to develop an evidence-based emotion coaching intervention, designed to help parents coach their children in learning emotion regulation skills, with the ultimate goal to buffer against mental illness. We will adhere to recent insights on emotion regulation by adopting emotion regulation skills that were shown to have positive outcomes on mental health. Furthermore, we will work together with parents to be able to take their needs into account when developing the intervention.
- Promoter: Dhar Monica
- Research Project