Angela Schuurmans

About Angela Schuurmans

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Angela Schuurmans was born on July 1th 1987 in The Netherlands. She obtained her BSc. degree in Psychology and Health at Tilburg University, and went a year abroad to study Genetics and Popular Culture at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. Back in The Netherlands, Angela started with the research master Behavioural Science at Radboud University Nijmegen where she tested the effectiveness of a videogame intervention for youths in the residential treatment centers at Pluryn. In summer 2014, she worked as a research intern at the University of Cambridge before starting with her PhD in September 2014. This is a collaborative project of the Radboud University and Pluryn on the development and implementation of a videogame intervention to promote the youths’ transition from residential care to society. Next to her part-time PhD-project, Angela started with a MA. in Philosophy.

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Biography and Research Interests

Angela Schuurmans is a junior researcher at Pluryn, a Dutch institution for residential youth care, hence her research focuses on this high-risk and difficult-to-treat population. Residential care is the most intensive form of youth care and often seen as a ‘last resort’ solution. These youths show severe behavioral problems, often combined with psychiatric disorders and/or intellectual disability. The majority of psychotherapeutic interventions within residential care focuses on specific problems as aggressive behavior, emotion regulation problems, or family dysfunction, and produces generally medium effect sizes.

Videogames are a novel way to engage youths into treatment. Not only learn youths best by doing instead of memorizing, the cognitive load placed on players is little – unlike conventional CBT programs – which in particular benefits youths with intellectual disability. The in-game environment offers the opportunity to practice acquired strategies, fostering generalization of learned behaviors to contexts outside of the game. Moreover, videogames are fundamentally fun and engaging, and engaging youths into therapy is one of the most challenging tasks faced by clinicians.

One research project showed the effectiveness of a videogame intervention (“Dojo”) for youths with externalizing problems and anxiety in a randomized controlled trial. This indicates that “Dojo” is an innovative and effective form of intervention which was received very positive by the youths. Another research project focuses on the development and implementation of a videogame intervention to promote the youths’ transition from residential care to society.