Social Anxiety and School Refusal in Adolescence

Social Anxiety and School Refusal in Adolescence


One of the key vulnerabilities in adolescence is social anxiety, defined as an extreme fear for the opinions of others and the avoidance of social situations. In some ways, this development can be seen as a healthy and normal transition where adolescents eventually learn to cope with social fears and become adults with mature social goals. Yet, for some adolescents social anxiety is so prevalent that it has severe social and psychological consequences.

When and how social anxiety develops and how it can go astray is the core focus of our research program. We target this question using a unique approach; we investigate how and when the maturation of behavior and brain function is related to genes versus environment in a socially complex and changing world.

A special focus of this research is on school refusal, an extreme form of social avoidance behavior with direct implications for education and health programs. School refusal may be related to social anxiety, depression, or other forms of psychopathology. We have developed a new treatment protocol to help troubled young people to attend school regularly and return to a normal developmental pathway – a path along which they can succeed academically and do well emotionally and socially.

In Focus

Esther van den Bos appointed as assistant professor

As of September 1st 2016, postdoctoral researcher Esther van den Bos has been appointed as an assistant professor.

Grant for research into treatment of public speaking anxiety

Anne Miers is part of the Social Skills Consortium that has received a grant from The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research to investigate the efficacy of interventions regarding social skills, resilience and insecurity. Anne is responsible for setting up a study on interventions for public speaking anxiety. The grant enables her to work on this project for one day a week during two years, starting in January 2017. Read more.

LISF-award for Elise Kortink

Research Master student Elise Kortink received an LISF-award of €1000 to do her internship at the Yale Child Study Center. She will study effects of attachment on social-evaluative processes in brain and behavior.