Intrusive thoughts research improving the lives of people with PTSD

PhD Candidate Jennifer (Yu-Tung) Sun hopes to improve the lives of sufferers of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) through her current research, which aims to understand if increasing awareness of intrusive-related thoughts – unwanted thoughts that pop into our head – can benefit PTSD treatment outcomes.

This research is being conducted because the current assessment of intrusions relies solely on self-reporting and an increased awareness could contribute to these thoughts being assessed more frequently.

“If individuals are not always aware of their intrusions, it is likely that they would underestimate the actual frequency of their intrusions occurrence”, says Jennifer. “Therefore, by confirming our goal, we could potentially facilitate the treatment outcome for individuals with PTSD, and also contribute to the current literature around the mechanism of intrusions and PTSD.”

The positive impact psychology research can have on individuals is one of the reasons Jennifer loves what she does.

“I’ve been enthusiastic for psychology since I was young”, says Jennifer. “The Bachelor of Psychology (Honours) at Flinders University opened up my view and enlightened my interest in research. One of the reasons I love doing research in psychology must be because our research area provides clinical implications, which potentially helps people understand pathology and improves treatment outcomes.”

Living by the motto, ‘hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard’, it’s unsurprising that Jennifer’s favourite memory at Flinders is based on academic achievement.

“My favourite moment was when I got a HD from Dr Paul Williamson, who’s a senior lecturer”, says Jennifer. “Getting a HD from Paul was definitely a reward for the effort I put into that assignment. He explained statistics very well and that made me feel statistics are easy, which is important for undergraduate students as they typically think statistics are intimidating, yet they are inevitable in psychology.”

Jennifer is currently working as a research assistant and believes this experience is providing pre-training that will allow her to have a successful career in the psychology industry.

“I’ve learnt a lot from the supervisor and the academics I work with”, says Jennifer. “I’m enjoying my research, so I’d like to be a part of a research team in the future. I’m also keen to be a clinical psychologist. I’d love to help people who share a similar background of mine in the future.”

Learn more about Psychology at Flinders.

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