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Department of Clinical Psychology

Address H-1083 Budapest, Tömő u. 25-29.
Tel.: (+36-1) 459-1493
Fax: (+36-1) 459-1500, ext. 51744
Email: klinpszicho@med.semmelweis-univ.hu

Director Professor Dóra Perczel Forintos, Ph.D.

Profile Established at the Semmelweis University, our department is the first and only independent clinical psychology department within Hungary.

Our department’s profile is threefold. As a university department we provide graduate and post-graduate clinical psychology courses and pursue treatment-related and evidence-based methods in psychodiagnosis and psychotherapy. Being part of the National Health Care System, we perform clinical work within the framework of an outpatient psychotherapeutic setting.

Moreover, our department is committed to the dissemination of evidence-based methods in clinical psychology in Hungary by organising several courses for mental health professionals and translating important manuals and handbooks in the field of cognitive behaviour therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy, and interpersonal therapy.

Education Graduate courses Our department offers the following obligatory elective credit courses for medical students: Suicide Prevention; and Critical Situations and Coping Skills in the Health Care Profession.

Postgraduate courses Our department organises a 4-year (8-semester) clinical psychology training program for psychologists with M.A. degrees. Training possibilities include two programmes: Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychology and Mental Health programme; and Adult Clinical Psychology and Mental Health programme. These courses provide an integrative approach to clinical psychology and psychotherapy including psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioural, client centred and family therapy approaches.

Our department also organises the post-graduate residency programme in clinical psychology.

Further training courses Clinical neuropsychology and clinical addictology.

Continuing Medical Education (CME) courses Our department also provides continuing education for mental health professionals to obtain their required credit scores.

Ph.D. courses Ph.D. courses are offered for doctoral students in Semmelweis University’s Mental Health and Health Sciences doctoral programme, as well as at Eötvös Loránd University.

Ph.D. topics offered at our department: – Posttraumatic stress disorder and posttraumatic growth; – Cognitive approaches to suicide prevention; – Obesity; – Coping mechanisms and burnout among health professionals; – Dissociative symptoms in psychosis related to early trauma.

Health Care Attached to the Department of Clinical Psychology, there is a highly specialised psychotherapeutic outpatient unit. This is the only institution in Hungary that provides evidence-based methods in psychodiagnostics and psychotherapeutic services within the National Health Care System.

Main areas of psychotherapeutic intervention: • Anxiety disorders (panic disorder, agoraphobia, social phobia, serious health anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder and other phobias); • Mood disorders (depression); • Psychosomatic disorders (high blood pressure, IBS, obesity); • Relationship problems; • Self-esteem problems; • Personality disorders; • Eating disorders (bulimia and obesity).

Group therapies offered at our department: • Obesity and problem-solving training; • Problem-solving training for people with a history of suicide;

Applied psychotherapeutic methods include: • Cognitive-behavioural therapy; • Dialectical behaviour therapy; • Family therapy; • Client-centred and relaxation approaches in individual and/or group settings; • Cardiovascular prevention group for obese patients; • Problem-solving training for suicide prevention.

Research Suicide Prevention Suicide is reported to be among the main causes of death worldwide, and also in Hungary. Retrospective investigation in the field of suicide prevention started in 2001 and was lead by Prof. Perczel Forintos. Its first aim was the adaptation of the Beck Hopelessness Scale, an internationally accepted instrument which measures suicide risk (Hopelessness Scale, Beck et al., 1974). The scale’s validity and reliability was tested in normal and clinical populations, followed by the creation of the short version of the scale (Perczel Forintos, Kopp and Rozsa, 2007).

In order to reduce the suicide rate in Hungary, it is essential to assess and test people with high suicide risk. Since people with suicidal thoughts and intentions often go to see their general practitioners (GPs), our studies assessed a significantly higher level of depression and hopelessness than controls, and one-third of them proved to be at high suicide risk.

The conclusion is that GPs can, and should play an important role in suicide prevention. The Hopelessness Scale and Beck’s Depression Scale are reliable test materials for local doctors.

Other related research areas include: problem solving abilities; autobiographical memory of suicidal patients; and mindfulness approaches. The low level of problem solving skills is among the main cognitive factors of suicide vulnerability. Problem solving training (PST), a short, structured form of therapy for in- and out-patients, was developed for the improvement of problem solving skills. The Hungarian adaptation of PST was developed at our unit, in a group of patients with previous suicide attempt, major or recurrent depression in their psychiatric history.

Obesity The aim of our research is to better describe behavioural, emotional and cognitive factors contributing to long-lasting weight control. Patients participating in the 24-week cognitive-behavioural treatment programme are able to gradually improve their skills for increased control over their weight. Average weight loss during the treatment is about five to ten percent of the initial body weight, which has a significant impact on several health-related areas (e.g. cholesterol-level, blood sugar level, blood pressure). Not only the efficacy of weight loss is measured, but also factors contributing to the prevention of weight regain. Further areas of obesity research concern the relationship between bullying and the development of an eating disorder.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Our Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) research team focuses on a variety of traumatic experiences. 1. The Ehlers-Clark model of PTSD and the phenomenon of posttraumatic growth is tested in clinical samples. 2. The relationship between parental coping strategies and children’s stress reactions is investigated in a population sample of children awaiting operation and their parents. Results show that parental self-efficacy is related to coping strategies. We are planning to extend our investigation to the population of children suffering from psychiatric disorders and children injured in accidents. 3. Psychotic and PTSD patients’ traumatisation is another field of research. Common cognitive patterns and relationship between day-to-day traumatic life events and below-threshold schizotypal characteristics are also in focus.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy for Adolescents The famous DBT treatment by Linehan (1993) is adopted for a 14 week-long treatment programme, which focuses on skills like emotion-regulation, frustration acceptance, and interpersonal and inner attention. Adolescent coping strategies and crisis survival strategies have been also investigated to better describe the efficacy of this treatment method.

Last updated: October 28, 2012