CAD.20.008 – A tailored transdiagnostic approach to preventing growing inequalities with children

Route: Child and adolescent development, upbringing and education

Cluster question: 059 How can we help children and adolescents grow up safe and healthy?

Inequalities in wellbeing, health, income, and safety start early in life, and increase as children grow up. The majority of Dutch children develop in an upward spiral of benefitting from enriching experiences with parents, peers, and education. But a minority of children grow up in a vicious cycle of increasing exclusion and marginalization that limits their skills and opportunities to thrive and contribute to society. We now know that adverse early childhood experiences and child susceptibility contribute to social-cognitive and emotion-regulation problems in children, such as hostile attribution biases and moodswings, that in turn evoke more aversive environmental responses. Thus, they become incapsulated in an increasingly rigid pathway of being rejected and rejecting social participation, leading to (mental) health problems, dropout, crime, and huge societal costs.
Unfortunately, society’s response to these developmental processes has mainly consisted of waiting until a vicious cycle has escalated, label the concerning child as having one of many ‘disorders’, and providing treatment that is ‘too little, too late’ with limited effects at high costs.
Aim of our project is to effectively prevent vicious cycles of problematic child development much earlier in life, by using our knowledge of transdiagnostic processes to address the very core mechanisms that exacerbate problematic development: social cognitive, emotion regulation, and social interaction processes. To do so, we will cooperate closely with children and their families to tailor prevention to the specific mechanisms that maintain problems in individual children. In addressing these mechanisms, we will use innovative core elements of effective treatment we developed, like systematically using time series of client functioning to adapt intervention, and interactive virtual reality training of social-cognitive and emotion-regulation skills. This will allow us to effectively help children with an unfavourable start in life to thrive.


emotion regulation, Inequality, Prevention, social cognition, tailored treatment, transdiagnostic

Other organisations

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


Organisation University of Amsterdam (UvA)
Name Prof.dr. B. (Bram) Orobio de Castro