PhD Position in Projects on Designing Compassionate Technology for Mental Healthcare
University of Twente Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences

Job description

In collaboration with Dimence Group and Minddistrict the University of Twente is looking for two highly motivated PhD candidates to help set the next step in compassionate design of technology. Are you ready to contribute to mental healthcare innovation in an interdisciplinary context? 

Over a million people seek out mental healthcare in the Netherlands every year. Waiting lists are long, costs are high. Technology has been designed to  support mental health and well-being, but successful implementation has proven difficult. Clients show low adherence to technology mediated care. Many professionals hesitate in prescribing ‘eMental Health’  or lack digital skills to confidently explain and adapt the existing options.

The Challenge

We aim to further develop design methodology for a particularly meaningful value in mental healthcare: Compassion. The final aim of the current project is to deliver a design methodology based on pivotal human values and provide new ways of dividing tasks between people and technology. This can lead to good societal readiness of technology and ultimately to a transition to sustainable mental health(care).

We are seeking candidates for two fully-funded 4 year PhD projects on two strongly related projects as part of the NWO program ‘Transitions and Behavior’.

1.       A vision on and protocol for compassionate Blended Therapy (BT). Your challenge is to apply a methodology of design for compassion to technology that is now commonly used in e-mental health (web-based platforms and mobile devices and applications). Together with our societal partners we will study and co-design how therapists can be empowered by a structured, evidence based Blended Treatment. This will be implemented in existing eCounseling technology (i.e. Minddistrict platform). The PhD in this project will work at the Psychology, Health and Technology group at the UT.

2.       Innovative compassionate technologies. Your challenge is to design and evaluate innovative compassionate technology supporting self-management. The design process will start from and further develop a value based approach. Iterative development of concepts that includes patients, therapists and developers of e-Mental Health technology will be followed by an extensive evaluation of several proof-of-concepts. You will focus on three types of (possibly overlapping) technology: body-sensing, interactive devices and ubiquitous technology. You will be appointed in the Interaction Design group (also UT based). 

We expect both PhD candidates to work closely together and to form links between the public and private partners and the four research groups that contribute to this project. In both projects quantitative (e.g. scale development, small-N design) and qualitative (e.g. focus groups, prototyping) methods will be employed for design and research.

Your profile

  • A MSc-level graduate in Psychology, Industrial Design Engineering, Philosophy, Computer Science, Interaction Technology or related fields.
  • A great teammate with good communication skills.
  • Interested in operating at the crossroads of Clinical Psychology, Interaction Design, Philosophy of Technology and Human-Computer Interaction.
  • Responsible for setting up co-creative workshops, recruiting participants (together with professionals from the Dimence Groep) and collecting and analyzing data. These form the basis of scientific articles which culminate in your dissertation.
  • An excellent command of English (C1; above IELTS 7 or equivalent).
  • A good command of Dutch (B2 to C1) is preferable.


For more information on Project 1 you can contact dr. Matthijs Noordzij (, and for Project 2 Prof. dr. ir. Geke Ludden ( Please submit your application (choose “apply now” below).

Our offer

  • You will be appointed for 38 hours per week.
  • The starting data will be July 1st, 2020 (or earlier) and end date 30th June 2024.
  • The terms of employment are in accordance with the Dutch Collective Labor Agreement for Universities (CAO).
  • Starting salary is € 2.325,- gross per month.
  • A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%.
  • A solid pension scheme.
  • Minimum of 29 holiday days.
  • A dynamic, cooperative work environment with entrepreneurial and enthusiastic colleagues.
  • A high degree of responsibility and independence.
  • Professional and personal development programmes.

The organization

The University of Twente. We stand for life sciences and technology. High tech and human touch. Education and research that matter. New technology which leads change, innovation and progress in society. The University of Twente is the only campus university of the Netherlands; divided over five faculties we provide more than fifty educational programmes. We have a strong focus on personal development and talented researchers are given scope for carrying out groundbreaking research.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status or disability status. Because of our diversity values we do particularly support women to apply.

The Faculty of Engineering Technology (ET) is one of the five faculties of the University of Twente. ET combines Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Industrial Design Engineering. Our faculty has approximately 1800 bachelor and master students, 400 employees and 150 PhD candidates. The departments of the faculty cooperatively conduct the educational programmes and participate in interdisciplinary research projects, programmes and the research institutes: Mesa+ Institute, TechMed Centra and Digital Society Institute.

Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences

The Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences (BMS) strives to play a pivotal role in understanding, co-engineering and evaluating innovation in society. Innovation is driven by advances in technology. Through 'social engineering' these technological advances are embedded in society befitting human needs and behaviour, within proper public and private management and business structures. For this the faculty of BMS upholds high quality disciplinary knowledge in psychology, business administration, public administration, communication science, philosophy, educational science and health sciences. All with a focus on the challenges in society. Research is strongly connected to our institutes: Mesa+ Institute, TechMed Centra and Digital Society Institute.

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Psychoneuroxy


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