With just over two months to go until The Future of Neuroscience, we interviewed Psychoanalysis Unit PhD student Stefanella Costa Cordella about her research at UCL, and what she hopes to gain from taking part in the conference.
What stage are you at in your studies at UCL?
I'm at the last stage of my PhD! Currently making the suggested amendments to my thesis for the final submission.
How did you come to study reflective functioning in diabetes?
During my training as a Child Psychologist in Chile, I became familiar with the work of Fonagy and colleagues and I discovered that was the focus that I needed for my work in both psychotherapy and research. As I was working with children with type 1 diabetes I became very interested in the effect of the relationship they have with their main caregivers, and how this affected the way they cope with their condition. I found that the contemporary psychodynamic theory rooted in attachment and mentalizing was the perfect framework for studying this issue.
Is this the first conference you’re presenting work at? If not, where else have you been?
I have presented part of my work at the International Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes (ISPAD) conference at Innsbruck in 2017, and at the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) conference in Abu Dhabi 2018.
What do you hope to gain from attending and presenting at this conference?
I am currently very interested in the role of mentalizing in psychotherapy with patients with different physical conditions, and its role in the reconstruction of the self in situations where the identity continuity has been lost. I believe that this conference will give me new lights on what I'm thinking and help me understand better which subject should I consider for my research. Additionally, I'm expecting to understand better the state of the art on the dialogue between mentalizing, attachment and neuroscience, which I consider have a lot to talk about!
In simple terms, what findings are you presenting?
Simply put, I'm presenting that the way in which both mothers and children make sense of their lives in terms of mental states affect the way in which the child's diabetes is better or worse controlled.
How do you plan to test if diabetes control and reflective functioning are directly linked?
I tested the relationship between diabetes control and reflective functioning by comparing RF levels in two groups of mother-child dyads: one of children in good diabetes control, and another group of children in poor diabetes control.
How could your research be applied to improve outcomes for diabetic mothers and their children?
I think that my research contributes to the understanding of HOW psychosocial issues affect diabetes outcomes and the importance of the caregiver's mental world in the child's physical world. It also provides preliminary data on the future development of a mentalization-based treatment specific to patients with diabetes.
A big thank you to Stefanella for taking the time to be interviewed about her work. Read more and register using the links below and find out more about the fascinating work which will be discussed this May.
Register for The Future of Neuroscience, Attachment and Mentalizing