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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of Psychology

Psychology Matters

Research Matters

rozenman

By Michelle Rozenman, PhD
Assistant Professor

 

 

 


The beginning of the school year is a time of transition for youth and young adults alike: meeting new instructors, adjusting to academic and social expectations and, for adolescents and young adults, managing time and moving towards independence. This transition is full of new and exciting experiences, but it can also be one of significant stress that, for some, might result in excessive worry about academic performance, nervousness about meeting new peers, or avoidance of tasks or people because one feels overwhelmed. While stress is a normal experience and everyone feels stressed at some point in their lives, about 30% of children and adolescents develop significant anxiety and get so worried, nervous, scared or overwhelmed that those feelings interfere with their daily functioning. What we know from research is that, unfortunately, significant anxiety doesn't seem to just go away on its own; in fact, if untreated, it tends to get worse over time.


The Behavioral Research for Anxiety InterVention Efficiency (BRAVE) Lab, directed by Dr. Michelle Rozenman, seeks to understand how the experience of anxiety and related problems in kids and teens leads them to think stressed thoughts, feel stress in their bodies, and avoid the things they want to do (like hang out with friends or explore extracurricular activities) and have to do (like go to school). We then use this information to improve the ways in which we teach kids and teens to be brave and face their fears, including behavioral interventions that focus on approach, rather than avoidance, as well as computerized interventions that target threat-based thinking. Some of our current research projects in these domains include the assessment and modification of cognitive biases, or threat-focused thoughts, and examining how stressed bodily responses (e.g., feeling sweaty, rapid heart rate, shallow breathing) might improve over the course of behavior therapy for anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Our ultimate goal is to help young people learn to manage anxiety so that they can do the things they want to do and have to do, even when stressful events like transitions occur.

The BRAVE Lab is launching in DU's Psychology Department this fall, and is looking for research assistants and graduate students to join our research team. We are thrilled to join the DU community!