Luciana Diaz-Cutraro, Parc Sanitari Sant Joan de Déu
Research on schizophrenia: an adventure not to be missed.
After finishing my residency in clinical psychology and training in psychological treatments for severe mental disorders, I decided to go behind the scenes of psychological treatment through research on schizophrenia, and that was the beginning of an incredible adventure!
It was not easy for me to move from clinical psychology to research, it required me to learn new skills from almost zero, until in my last year I started to integrate these two professional profiles. My main motivation for entering the world of psychosis research was to contribute to improving treatments so that as many people with psychosis as possible can have access to them as soon as possible. In addition to this, I discovered that new technologies will be my main interest for the following years of my career.
Undoubtedly, networking, meeting colleagues and references in the field of schizophrenia research is an important part of doing research. In that direction, being able to participate in the 2022 Annual SIRS Congress in Florence, exhibiting my poster in Florence was a unique opportunity to exchange contacts and get invaluable feedback from colleagues. Specifically, this year I presented part of my thesis work at the SIRS 2022 Congress, and it was one of the most enriching experiences of my career! This work explores how jumping to conclusions is related to and can influence how we interpret social information. We found that people with first episodes of psychosis who jump to conclusions are more likely to be impaired in their facial recognition of others' emotions, as well as to attribute the cause of negative events to themselves. However, these same people would not be impaired in decoding what others might be thinking. This new knowledge will allow us to refine psychological treatments that work with information processing biases and shape the topics of therapies toward those directions specifically.
For this work, I had the pleasure of receiving the Early Career Award, which was a unique impulse and a great motivation to continue exploring how to ameliorate the problems that living with psychosis can bring. Thanks to that possibility I was able to share time, exchange ideas and learn with my mentor, Dr. Matcheri Ketshavan. SIRS offers us a unique possibility to meet, exchange and learn from other researchers, both early career and long-time researchers.
How does this adventure continue? Considering the present and, above all, the future of research, I would like to highlight two points of particular interest to me. First, the possibility of developing treatments based on new technologies is a possibility to make them attractive, less expensive and simpler, which is why I am very motivated to continue in this direction after my doctorate. On the other hand, these years I learned that the wonderful thing about working in research lies in the need to generate collaborative work that includes people with psychosis and their families. I consider that first-person knowledge of the problems, as well as the need to generate solutions together, is the most appropriate way to build a research project. I have a lot to learn in this direction and it is very motivating for me. I recommend to colleagues clinical psychologists to enter into the world of schizophrenia research and above all to make community with colleagues through the SIRS. You will not come out the same as you went in!
The Early Career Award program is intended to sponsor individuals who have, through their research, teaching or clinical activities, demonstrated a professional and scientific interest in the field of schizophrenia research. You can find out more by clicking here.