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Promotieonderzoek Sashank Nyapati

6 april 2022 - Voor zijn promotieonderzoek gaat Sashank Nyapati onderzoek doen naar het onderwerp Worldviews binnen de Antroposofische Psychotherapie.

Korte terugblik en promotors

At the end of last year, I was very happy to have a research proposal that I could finally approach potential promotors with. Erik and I wanted to invite Prof. Jim van Os as the main promotor for the PhD project, as he is not only one of the leading researchers in the field, but he is also involved in integrative medicine, and is open to new perspectives in psychotherapy. Dr. Femke Truijens, a Psychotherapist and Associate Professor at the Erasmus University Rotterdam with whom I also work, was also interested in the project. After a meeting in mid-February, it was decided that Prof. Jim van Os would be the promotor of my PhD project, Prof. Erik Baars and Dr. Femke Truijens would be the co-promotors.

Over het onderzoek

The title of the PhD project is tentatively “Worldviews in Anthroposophic Psychotherapy: A Crossroads of Integrative Perspectives”. Anthroposophic Psychotherapy (AP) is a form of psychotherapy that is based on the principles of anthroposophy. In addition to the psychological, it emphasizes the interrelated importance of social and biological aspects of a human being as well.

While courses in anthroposophic psychotherapy AP are officially offered in 14 countries, trained anthroposophic psychotherapists are active in many more countries around the world. There is a reasonable amount of theoretical literature on AP that has been published in academic journals. However, each author offers a varying perspective on the principles of AP. It is therefore imperative to come to a common understanding of what comprises AP. This can be done by interviewing experts on AP and expert anthroposophic psychotherapists and converging these findings. 

Over Antroposofische Psychotherapie

AP, like the overarching system of Anthroposophic Medicine (AM) and its associated therapeutic modalities, is an integrative therapy. Other AM therapies, such as Eurythmy Therapy and Art Therapy have been found to be efficacious not only in the treatment of mental disorders such as anxiety and depression, but also in oncology, infectious diseases and palliative medicine.

Theoretical underpinnings point to the potential role that worldviews and salutogenesis play in the success of these therapies. As AP belongs to the same system of therapies, it also adheres to the same theoretical principles. It would be of interest to confirm the above hypotheses, and identify any further mechanisms of change responsible for this change. If worldview is identified as a mechanism of change, it would be of further interest to see whether the matching of worldviews between client and therapy results in better outcomes. 
Current systems of evidence-based psychotherapy are excessively focused on diagnoses and generalisability at the cost of individual differences and unique circumstances. Owing to its holistic and integrative nature, AP is capable of addressing this gap. However, evidence on AP’s effectiveness needs to be gathered.  

Currently, only theoretical research on AP has been conducted. No empirical research exists to date. As AP is a highly individualised treatment, case studies and case series would be an appropriate methodology to establish the efficacy of the therapy. In addition, using the benchmark of a highly prevalent disorder such as depression, would allow for a reasonable comparison with other psychotherapeutic modalities.  

Persoonlijke drijfveer

I also have a more personal interest in this research, because I am in the process of being certified as an Anthroposophic Psychotherapist myself. My goal is to add to the already rich background of AP through the framework of worldviews and to make it accessible to all other Anthroposophic Psychotherapists around the world. I hope to be able to use my findings in my own practice as well.

Status van het onderzoek

Recent developments:

  • I am now in the process of formalising my position as a PhD candidate in the Brain Centre of the UMC Utrecht
  • The first planned publication is a systematic review on the relationships that exist between worldviews and mental health. I have just started laying the groundwork for this paper.