Social Anxiety and School Refusal in Adolescence



Prof. Michiel Westenberg


Prof. Michiel Westenberg is the head of the laboratory. He has a long lasting interest in adolescent development and, more specifically, social anxiety in adolescence. Starting from a clinical-developmental perspective, he investigated social anxiety development from a normative as well as clinical perspective. This led to the longitudinal program social anxiety in normal development in which questionnaire research was combined with lab experiment and psychophysiological recordings: the Social Anxiety and Normal Development study (SAND). In his current program, he combines these perspectives in a unique new program, focusing on the role of genes and environment in the development of social anxiety in the broadest sense. 

Dr. David Heyne

davidheyneDr. David Heyne is associate professor and he specializes in the relation between social anxiety and school refusal. When coming to Leiden, he brought his clinical and treatment experience from Australia and set up a new treatment program for school refusal in Leiden . Currently, he is interested in the development and evaluation of interventions for young people who find it hard to attend school as a result of anxiety and depression (i.e., school refusal), including intervention with the parents of these young people, and with school staff.


Dr. Caroline Bokhorst

carolienbokhorstDr. Caroline Bokhorst is assistant professor and has a strong interest in the interplay between genes and environment to understand social anxiety. For her PhD research she conducted a behavioral genetic twin study to estimate the relative influence of genetic and environmental factors on attachment relationships in infants, after which she developed an interest in social anxiety research in adolescents. Now, she is one of the first to combine these two research lines by studying the development of social anxiety using a family design. By testing three generations, she will be able to test effects of genes and environment on the emergence of social anxiety in families.


Dr. Anke Blöte

annekebloteDr. Anke Blöte is assistant professor and has an interest in both laboratory based research and field observations of social anxiety. By investigating the perspectives of others on youth with social anxiety, she provides a broader context to understanding this prevalent vulnerability in adolescence. Her recent studies focus on the social skills of socially anxious adolescents and how these are evaluated by adult observers, same-aged peers and the socially anxious adolescents themselves. The different perspectives are needed in order to determine whether socially anxious adolescents’ negative self evaluations of social performance are warranted.


Dr. Anne Miers

annemiersDr. Anne Miers is a post-doctoral researcher in the SAND team. She completed her PhD on cognitive aspects of social anxiety, drawing from a clinical perspective. Her current focus is on the development of social anxiety over the adolescent period, and different predictors of high social anxiety levels over time. Complementing this focus is an interest in longitudinal analyses techniques.



Dr. Melle van der Molen

MellevdMolenDr. Melle J.W. van der Molen is an assistant professor in clinical neurodevelopmental psychology at the Developmental Psychology Unit. His main research interests lie in discovering the fundamental psychophysiological processes that enable attention and cognition. To this end, he investigates both healthy individuals as well as those with psychopathology (e.g., anxiety disorders) or neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g., fragile X syndrome). For more information, please visit his personal website.



Post Docs

Dr. Esther van den Bos

esthervandenbosDr. Esther van den Bos is  a post-doctoral researcher in the SAND-team. Her current research focuses on the normal development of sensitivity to social evaluation during adolescence. She is particularly interested in the development of physiological responses to social-evaluative situations and how this may be affected by pubertal, cognitive and psychosocial development. Previously, she investigated implicit learning of artificial grammars and language-like structures, receiving her PhD from Leiden University and working as a post-doc at Cornell University .



PhD Students

Anita Harrewijn, MSc

Photo Anita HarrewijnAnita Harrewijn is a PhD student involved in the family study about social anxiety. She focuses on an EEG project about profiling endophenotypes. Anita is interested in neuroimaging and developmental psychopathology. She’s particularly interested in the development of social anxiety, her Honours Research Bachelor Project was also about social anxiety.



 Janna Marie Bas - Hoogendam, MSc


Janna Marie Bas - Hoogendam (MSc) has studied Medicine and Neuroscience, with a special interest to investigate the human brain using neuroimaging. She joined the Leiden Family Lab Study on Social Anxiety in March 2013 as a PhD student. Her PhD project, supervised by professor Michiel Westenberg and dr. Nic van der Wee, aims to profile endophenotypes of Social Anxiety Disorder using structural and functional MRI.



Research Assistants

Elise Kortink

EliseKortinkElise Kortink is a research master student in the Developmental Psychology track. She combines the research master with the clinically oriented master Child & Adolescent Psychology. Her Honours Research Bachelor Project was supervised by Melle van der Molen and focused on examining the low frequency neural oscillatory dynamics underlying emotion regulation by cognitive reappraisal. As a research assistant, Elise will carry on this research and investigate gender differences in emotion regulation by cognitive reappraisal.



Master students

Laura Celda

Andreas Christodoulou

Evaggelia Diamanti

Marloes van Dijk

Judith Edouad

Sara Jakobsson Mansson

Ilse Klinge

Elise Kortink

Tanja Kreuk

Alkistis Markoulaki

Konstantina Mataftsi

Eilidh McIver

Enda McHugh

Farah Mesbahi

Jiska Mieremet

Tes Mijnders

Laura Moore

Joyce de Nijs

Nicola Nolting

Marloes van Ooijen

Ilona Raadgever

Sarah Schäffer

Sofia Stigka

Angel Voorham

Rick de Weers

Sietske Yntema





Marion van den Baar, MSc

Marjolein Barendse, MSc

Anne ter Beek, MSc

Anne-Jaan den Besten, MSc

Willeke Brittijn, MSc

Villy Cheilakou, MSc

Marianina Choleva, MSc

Laura Compier- de Block, MSc

Yara Daw, MSc

Jiska Dijk, MSc

Corry Donner, MSc

Parthenia Dourouki, MSc

Mirte Eekhof, MSc

Eline van Enk, MSc

Menno A.J. Ezinga, PhD

Janet van Hal, MSc

Caroline van Hartingsveldt, MSc

Charlotte Hiemstra, MSc

Marleen Hoek, MSc

Kelly van der Hulst, MSc

Judith Janssen, MSc

Femke Jongejan, MSc

Marcia Kint, MSc

Eftychia Kolokonte, MSc

Konstantinos Kouvaras, MSc

Madelon Kunst, MSc

Saskia van Leuverden, MSc

Sanne van Luenen, MSc

Marija Maric, PhD

Elise Mechielsen, MSc

Ellen Middag, MSc

Deborah Noorlander, MSc

Chrysavgi Papadogiannaki, MSc

Katerina Papakonstantinou, MSc

Jacky Pop, MSc

Eefje Poppelaars, MSc

Hapsari Putri, MSc

Etha Ravensbergen, MSc

Myrto Roumelioti, MSc

Hanni Saes, MSc

Laura Sakka, MSc

Nadia van Santen, MSc

Floor Sauter, PhD

Lotje van Schie, MSc

Lenneke van Schoonhoven, MSc

Irini Serafeim, MSc

Marjon Spies, MSc

Jacqueline Stam, MPhil

Sindy Sumter, PhD

Eva Thalassinou, MSc

Niki van der Togt, MSc

Silke Tönnies, MSc

Tijmen Troost, MSc

Serif Turkkal, MSc

Evelien Urbanus, MSc

Vasiliki Vatali, MSc

Nadine Vijlbrief, MSc

Amber Wilson, MSc

Eleni Zachou, MSc

Carlijn Zoetmulder, MSc

Lisanne van der Zwet, MSc