Dalena van Heugten - van der Kloet (D.)

In my work, I wear a variety of ‘professional hats’ and I love to combine my passion for research with my passions for teaching and clinical work. 

After I graduated at Maastricht University with a Master of Mental Health, I worked as a therapist in a company GGZ Noord-Midden Limburg, department of Addiction. Then, I returned to Maastricht University for a PhD project in clinical psychology; my topic was dissociation and sleep. During my PhD research I also worked part-time as a therapist at the RIAGG Maastricht at the department of mood disorders. 

After finishing my PhD, I was awarded with a Rubicon grant to work at the University of Oxford for two years as a post-doctoral researcher. Following this, I found a job as Lecturer in Psychology, and was promoted to Senior Lecturer shortly after. Having lived in Oxford, England, for four years, I have now returned once again at Maastricht University as Assistant Professor in Psychology. 

I have over ten years of teaching experience, reaching from first year undergraduates to master students, and in a variety of teaching methods, such as lectures for large groups, tutorials for small groups, one-to-one support and supervision, and pastoral and mentor functions.

In my research, I have studied the link between dissociative symptoms and sleep disturbances; I found that sleep experiences precede dissociative symptoms; that both sleep loss and recreational drugs can induce dissociative symptoms; and that normalizing sleep reduces dissociative symptoms. Following from this, with a NWO Rubicon grant, at the University of Oxford, I ran two main studies: an experimental study to elucidate the effect of sleep deprivation versus sleep following an analogue trauma on intrusive memories and dissociation, and a clinical RCT to explore the effectiveness of digitalised cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia at improving sleep and reducing dissociative symptoms.

Clinically, I have worked as a therapist treating substance abuse disorders, sexual disorders, and mood disorders in adults, as well as developmental issues in young persons from deprived backgrounds. I am not only experienced in delivering cognitive behavioural therapy but also in teaching these therapeutic skills through courses and clinical workshops.

In my free time I like to write as well. My debut novel, a psychological thriller entitled ‘In the shadow of the burning tree’, has been published both in the Netherlands, and in North-America and the UK.