Research focus

This network was launched by the Division Psychopathology and Clinical Intervention, Department of Psychology at the University of Zurich, and the Institute of Psychology and Education at the University of Neuchâtel. Our main research areas are cultural clinical psychology, with a focus on stress-related disorders, and research among immigrant and refugee populations.

Socio-Cultural Manifestations of PTSD among Refugee Victims of Torture

The study aims to increase our understanding of trauma responses among refugees and asylum seekers within specific socio-cultural contexts by drawing on in-depth qualitative research techniques. 
The study is centred on a year-long follow-up of beneficiaries of the MSF Victims of Torture (VOT) Project in Athens and their partner organization, Babel. Complementary data was also be gained through 5 sources in order to locate these individual narratives within a socio-cultural context: 1) Semi-structured interviews with family and community members. 2) Semi-structured interviews with ‘key informants’ - professionals working with this population. 3) Group discussions among beneficiaries of the project 4) 3 months of participant observation at the centre for victims of torture.

Project leader: Ass. Prof. Laure Kloetzer

Contact: Gail Womersley, MSc

Psychological factors associated with positive health outcomes in older adults with varying experiences of early childhood adversity

The overarching aim of the project is to identify the underlying multi-dimensional mechanisms associated with resilience in older individuals with past experiences of childhood adversity and trauma. The project uses a cross-sectional, mixed-methods design, and is part of a larger project on differential ageing trajectories following early-life adversity. Using a quantitative questionnaire survey and qualitative semi-structured interviews, this project examines individuals in Ireland with varying levels of childhood stress or adversity, and specifically focuses on survivors of institutional (welfare-related) maltreatment.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Myriam Thoma

Project Lead: Dr. Shauna Rohner,

Metaphors on Trauma from a Cross-Cultural Perspective

In order to gain a better understanding of trauma in a culturally sensitive way, this project aims to explore and contrast metaphors of extreme aversive or catastrophic events in different cultural groups. Field studies were conducted in rural communities in Brazil, India, Poland, and Switzerland. This qualitative research project has an interdisciplinary approach involving perspectives from anthropology and linguistics. Data analysis included the techniques of systematic metaphor analysis and content analysis to identify culturally shared metaphorical idioms for each cultural group under study.

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Dr. Andreas Maercker

Contact: Karin Rechsteiner, MSc

Cultural Concepts of Distress among Albanian-speaking Individuals in Switzerland

Cultural variability regarding concepts of distress for common mental disorders (CMD) has been reported extensively in cultural clinical psychology across the globe. But little is known about illness narratives in social communities from South-East Europe. The purpose of this study is to identify cultural concepts of distress (CCD) using the example of Albanian-speaking individuals in Switzerland. 
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Dr. Andreas Maercker
Project leader: Dr. Eva Heim
Contact: Mirëlinda Shala, Mag. phil.

Cultural Adaptation of an Internet-Based Self-Help Program for the Treatment of Depression among Albanian-speaking Individuals

The intervention used in a randomized controlled trial, entitled Step-by-Step, was developed by World Health Organization (WHO) for culturally diverse populations in low- and middle-income countries. At the University of Zurich we are planning to adapt this intervention based on the findings of our qualitative study about cultural concepts of distress among Albanian-speaking individuals in Switzerland.
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Dr. Andreas Maercker
Project leader: Dr. Eva Heim
Contact: Mirëlinda Shala, Mag. phil.


MAPAsia Grief is a cross-cultural research project which explores grief reactions in bereaved individuals from Japan, China, and Switzerland. Within three studies, the team aims at 1) assessing the clinical utility and accptability of the new ICD-11 criteria for prolonged grief among health care providers, 2) developing a culturally-sensitive measurement tool for prolonged grief, and 3) investigating core mechanisms underlying interindividual variability in grief responses.

Project leader: Dr. Clare Killikelly

Project-E-Mail:, Substudies: (Eva Stelzer, MSc, Swiss substudy),  (Ningning Zhou, MSc, Chinese substudy), (Dr. Kanako Shimizu, Japanese substudy)

If you would like to participate in this study, please visit our study website ( or directly access the study (

Constructing a Psychological Aiding System for Chinese Bereaved Parents Who Lost Their Only Child Based on a Popular-Based Survey

In this project, we want to know more about the psychological health of Chinese parents bereaved by losing the only child, how they cope with the loss and how they recover. We also want to construct a psychological aiding system for them to help them recover.

Contact: Ningning Zhou, MSc

Developing an App as an Assessment Tool of Prolonged Grief

This project applies a prevention perspective, aiming at developing an App to assess individuals' grief reactions. It is part of the MAPAsia Project described above.

Contact: Dr. Kanako Shimizu

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

©2018 by Cultural Clinical Psychology Young Researchers Network. Proudly created with