Social Cognition & Behavioural Treatment Clinic
Head of laboratory
Assoc Prof Adam Guastella
Senior Clinical Research Fellow, Brain & Mind Research Institute
Level 2, 100 Mallett Street, Camperdown NSW 2050
T +61 2 9351 0539
F +61 2 9351 0855
Our team aims to develop more effective treatments and a better understanding of social dysfunction in humans.
One aspect of the services we provide focuses on social anxiety. Social anxiety is one of the most common and debilitating mental health problems in people aged between 15 and 25. It is often one of the first signs of mental ill health and leaves people vulnerable to the future development of further chronic and co-morbid mental health problems. It also predicts long-term disengagement from workplace, family, and peer relationships. Our research provides free and effective treatments for people of all ages but we do have a particular focus on treating young people aged between 15 and 30. Using novel medications based on the latest advances in the neurobiology of overcoming fear, we have shown that cheap and safe medications can help people to learn to overcome fear beyond what can be achieved from therapy alone. We have also identified important cognitive and biological markers that both drive social anxiety and lead to its remediation.
A second and related aspect to our research focuses on understanding and treating difficulties in social communication and relationship formation. We have developed novel treatments for people who have been diagnosed with autism and schizophrenia to assist their capacity to engage in supportive social relationships. Furthermore, we have shown the impact of substance misuse on leading to social withdrawal and associated impairments in social functioning capacity. We identified key social cognition problems that inhibit one’s ability to understand other people’s emotion and have published some of the most important studies demonstrating the benefits of peptides (e.g., oxytocin) to improve social behaviour in humans. Such research has the potential to provide the first easily administered and effective intervention for social dysfunction in humans and to advance our understanding of social dysfunction in humans.