1) What is your current occupation?
I am a research fellow in the Trauma and Stress Research group at the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the University of Hamburg, and at Centra, the Refugee Coordination Centre of Hamburg in Germany. At the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf and at the Medical School Hamburg, I am a lecturer in the field of Clinical Psychology. I also work as a Clinical Psychologist with patients with posttraumatic stress disorders (PTSD).
2) Where were you educated?
I studied Psychology at the University of Hamburg, and then worked as a research fellow at the University of Münster, Germany. Afterwards, I completed my PhD at the Department of Child and Youth Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf. I conducted a postgraduate Master in Psychotherapy Research at the University of Bern, Switzerland, a five-year training as a Clinical Psychologist and a specialized training for PTSD treatment.
3) Why did you choose this field?
I became interested in traumatic stress research during my PhD. During that time, I examined difficulties in emotion regulation in mentally ill mothers and the impact of these difficulties on the interaction between these mothers and their infants. Many of these mothers were exposed to domestic violence, and the adverse mental health consequences of abuse and neglect were apparent in the third generation – the infants that I observed in the lab. Due to my increased interest in the consequences of traumatic stress, I joined the Trauma and Stress Research Group at the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy. Since then I have led several research projects with patients with PTSD. The knowledge I gain in clinical work with patients flows directly into my scientific work, and vice versa. I find it fascinating to see how resilient people can be despite severe distress and how much they can often benefit from trauma-focused interventions.
4) What is most rewarding about this work for you?
I find it rewarding when my research or clinical work can have a positive impact on people’s lives. The results of the randomized controlled trials on PTSD treatments that I have conducted in recent years may encourage the selection of effective treatments that can significantly improve people’s quality of life. The recommendations of the treatment guidelines for PTSD, on which I worked in Germany, have to potential to improve health care by supporting health care professionals to choose to offer effective treatments.
5) What is most frustrating about your work?
My research and clinical interests concern particularly vulnerable groups with PTSD, including patients with comorbid addiction or refugees. While I enjoy working with these groups, it can be difficult to accept that only a small subgroup of those in need of trauma-specific treatment actually receive it, while most patients are not reached by the health care system or have to wait months for treatment.
6) How do you keep your life in balance (i.e., what are your hobbies)?
I enjoy dancing, which I usually do every day. This is a perfect way for me to switch off after a working day, stay physically and mentally active, and socialize. I also like running, reading, and spending time with my love ones.
7) What are your future plans?
I will pursue my research in the area of posttraumatic mental health. In particular, I hope that I can contribute to a better understanding of Complex PTSD and its treatment. I also want to further explore how treatments need to be changed so people actually enjoy using them.