I am a neuropsychologist and PhD candidate working at the Dijkermanlab of prof. Chris Dijkerman at Utrecht University. For my PhD project I am looking at body image disturbances and its underlying mechanisms in patients with an eating disorder and recovered patients. I do this from a cognitive neuroscience perspective where I combine explicit (subjective report) and implicit (e.g. reaction time) measurements.
In my studies I look at the underlying mechanisms contributing to a disturbed body image, such as the often reported ‘feeling of being fat’ and the ‘feeling of being in control of the body’. My studies are first and foremost patient-oriented: In my studies I combine the information that patients give me – from individual talks to the outcome of panel groups – with the opinion and observations from clinical experts, and the scientific literature on eating disorders. I use this information to formulate new research questions and set up new studies.
My studies focus on female adult patients suffering from anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and other specified feeding and eating disorders. In addition I also include recovered patients to see what symptoms are persistent after recovery. The goal of my research is to gain more insight in the underlying mechanisms of body image in eating disorders, and to improve current eating disorder treatment with these new insights.
My promotors are prof. Chris Dijkerman and prof. Liesbeth Woertman both experts on body image. I also work closely together with my co-promotor dr. Anouk Keizer who is an expert on body representation in anorexia nervosa. I mainly conduct my research at the Leontienhuis. I also work together with other institutions/organisations such as Rivierduinen eetstoornissen Ursula, Stichting-Jij, Proud2bme.nl and Human Concern.
In addition to my PhD research, I am also involved the development of a novel, action-based treatment method for body image disturbance in anorexia nervosa. In collaboration with Anouk Keizer and Jose Bonekamp, we are currently training a number of therapists in this technique. For more information, see: www.hoepeltraining.nl.