Research: Ongoing complexity projects

Understanding onset, recurrence and chronicity of common mental health disorders

As a professor of Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry at Amsterdam University Medical Centers, together with my research team I focus on common mental health disorders (such as depression). I am the director of the Centre for Urban Mental Health at the University of Amsterdam, together with prof. Reinout Wiers.

I study potentially modifiable etiological factors of onset, relapse and chronicity using an interdisciplinary complex systems approach. As a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study (UvA-IAS) I studied the use of complexity systems models in order to explore new targets for interventions of depression. Additionally, as a fellow at the World Health Organization (WHO), I studied the possibilities of using technology to increase the accessibility of effective psychological interventions worldwide. Besides, I work as a clinical psychologist at the Psychiatry Department of UvA-AMC.

My research program focuses on the following topics:
• Understanding etiological and maintenance factors in depression and related common mental health disorders using a complex systems approach.
• Developing innovative multimodal psychological interventions (i.e. combined with technological devices and pharmacological treatments) and evaluating the effect in RCT’s and micro RCT’s (using ecological momentary assessment and affective networks).
• Increasing accessibility of effective psychological interventions in low and middle income countries using technology.

For ongoing complexity projects with the Centre for Urban Mental Health, see the UMH website. For all complexity projects with the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), see the IAS website

Snippet of interview with Mental Elf: ‘Moving beyond simplification: embracing the complexity of mental health.’

Interview with Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant: ‘Does therapy via video calling work?’ Read the full article online.

See all media appearances here >>

Selected Publications

Van der Wal, J. M., Van Borkulo, C. D., Deserno, M., Breedvelt, J. J. F., Lees, M., Lokman, C., Borsboom, D., Denys, D., Van Holst, R., Smidt, M., Stronks, K., Lucassen, P. J., Van Weert, J. C. M., Sloot, P. M. A., Bockting, C. L. H.*, Wiers, R. W. H. J.* (In press). Advancing urban mental health research: from complexity to actionable targets for intervention. Lancet Psychiatry. Accepted for publication. *Shared senior author

Breedvelt, J. J. F., Warren, F. C., Segal, Z., Kuyken, W., Bockting, C. L. H. (In press). Can I stop my antidepressant? Efficacy of sequential psychological interventions on depressive relapse: an individual participant data meta-analysis. JAMA Psychiatry.

Brouwer, M. E., Molenaar, N. M., Burger, H., Williams, A. D., Albers, C., Lambregtse-van den Berg, M., & Bockting, C. L. H. (2020). Tapering antidepressants while receiving digital Preventive Cognitive Therapy during pregnancy: An experience sampling methodology trial. Frontiers in Psychiatry. doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2020.574357

Fu, Z., Burger, H., Arjadi, R., & Bockting, C. L. H. (2020). Effectiveness of digital psychological interventions for mental health problems in low-income and middle-income countries: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Psychiatry. 7(10), 851-864. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(20)30256-X

Brouwer, M. E., Williams, A. D., Kennis, M., Fu, Z., Klein, N. S., Cuijpers, P., & Bockting, C. L. H. (2019). Psychological theories of depressive relapse and recurrence: A systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Clinical Psychology Review, 74, 101773. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2019.101773

Kennis, M., Gerritsen, L., van Dalen, M., Williams, A., Cuijpers, P., & Bockting, C. L. H. (2020). Prospective biomarkers of major depressive disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Molecular Psychiatry, 25(2), 321-338. doi:10.1038/s41380-019-0585-z

Bockting, C. L. H., Klein, N. S., Elgersma, H. J., van Rijsbergen, G. D., Slofstra, C., Ormel, J., . . . Burger, H. (2018). Effectiveness of preventive cognitive therapy while tapering antidepressants versus maintenance antidepressant treatment versus their combination in prevention of depressive relapse or recurrence (DRD study): A three-group, multicentre, randomised controlled trial. Lancet Psychiatry, 5(5), 401-410. doi:10.1016/s2215-0366(18)30100-7

Siegle, G. J., Cramer, A. O. J., van Eck, N. J., Spinhoven, P., Hollon, S. D., Ormel, J., . . . Bockting, C. L. H. (2019). Where are the breaks in translation from theory to clinical practice (and back) in addressing depression? An empirical graph-theoretic approach. Psychological Medicine, 49(16), 2681-2691. doi:10.1017/s003329171800363x

Arjadi, R., Nauta, M. H., Scholte, W. F., Hollon, S. D., Chowdhary, N., Suryani, A. O., . . . Bockting, C. L. H. (2018). Internet-based behavioural activation with lay counsellor support versus online minimal psychoeducation without support for treatment of depression: A randomised controlled trial in Indonesia. Lancet Psychiatry, 5(9), 707-716. doi:10.1016/s2215-0366(18)30223-2

Bockting, C. L. H., Hollon, S. D., Jarrett, R. B., Kuyken, W., & Dobson, K. (2015). A lifetime approach to major depressive disorder: The contributions of psychological interventions in preventing relapse and recurrence. Clinical Psychology Review, 41, 16-26. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2015.02.003

Slofstra, C., Nauta, M. H., Bringmann, L. F., Klein, N. S., Albers, C. J., Batalas, N., . . . Bockting, C. L. H. (2018). Individual negative affective trajectories can be detected during different depressive relapse prevention strategies. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 87(4), 243-245. doi:10.1159/000489044

Brouwer, M. E., Williams, A. D., van Grinsven, S. E., Cuijpers, P., Lambregtse-van den Berg, M. P., Burger, H., & Bockting, C. L. H. (2018). Offspring outcomes after prenatal interventions for common mental disorders: A meta-analysis. BMC Medicine, 16, 208. doi:10.1186/s12916-018-1192-6

Hayes, A. M., Yasinski, C., Ben Barnes, J., & Bockting, C. L. H. (2015). Network destabilization and transition in depression: New methods for studying the dynamics of therapeutic change. Clinical Psychology Review, 41, 27-39. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2015.06.007

See full bibliography here >>

Institutional Responsibilities

Centre for Urban Mental Health (University of Amsterdam)

Together with professor Reinout Wiers, I am the director of the Centre for Urban Mental Health (UMH), part of the University of Amsterdam. The centre aims to unravel new pathways to improve urban mental health that takes into account the complexities and dynamics of mental health problems and mental health disorders in an urban environment.

To read more about the Centre for Urban Mental Health, visit the UMH-website >>

European Association of Clinical Psychology and Psychological Treatment

To promote innovation in the field of clinical psychology and innovate interventions and to represent clinical psychology in Europe on a policy level, I lead the European Association of Clinical Psychology and Psychological Treatment (EACLIPT) as a president. EACLIPT has the aims to foster research, education and dissemination of scientifically evaluated findings on mental disorders and its treatment. Our efforts resulted in representation of the EACLIPT in the European Parliament in the last years.

To read more about the European Association for Clinical Psychology and Psychological Treatment, visit the EACLIPT-website >>

Policy and Advice

On a national policy level, I am an advisor of de advisory board of the Dutch government (kennisring Raad voor Samenleving) and previously a supervisory board member of a mental health institute (Arkin, Amsterdam). Further, I am a member of the multi-disciplinary clinical guideline committee Depression  for more than a decade.

Download my full curriculum vitae on the right side of this page >> 

Ongoing PhD’s

  • John (Can) Lokman (2021 – 2025).
  • Sjanne van der Stappen (2020 – 2024). Targeting partial remission in depression by adding a cognitive remediation to a psychological intervention.
  • Amber Koert (2020 – 2024). Working out urban stress.
  • Tineke Banda (2020 – 2024). The influence of the microbiome on depression in urban youth.
  • Nancy Schipper (2020 – 2024). Virtual reality as treatment for depression.
  • Junus van der Wal (2020 – 2024). Unravelling the dynamics of depression in high-risk urban populations using a complex systems approach.
  • Bas Kooiman (2019 – 2023). StayFine: A personalized monitoring and intervention app to prevent relapse of anxiety and depressive disorders in youth and young adults.
  • Jessy Bergamin (2019 – 2023). Psychiatry and autonomy.
  • Caroline Heuschen (2019 – 2023). Suicidality in mental health disorders.
  • Amanda Legemaat (2018 – 2022). Neuropsychological functioning and cognitive remediation in depression and relapse prevention.
  • Suzanne Robberegt (2018 – 2022). StayFine: A personalized monitoring and intervention app to prevent relapse of anxiety and depressive disorders in youth and young adults.
  • Josefien Breedvelt (2017 – 2021). Preventing onset and recurrence in common mental health disorders. In collaboration with the Mental Health Foundation London and prof. Simon Gilbody, (York University, UK).

Clinical psychologist

I am a registered clinical psychologist, CBT supervisor, psychotherapist and healthcare psychologist and I am head of training of health care psychologists at Cure & Care Development