Translational intervention and prevention

From the findings of basic research on how and why mental disorders arise, we develop prevention programs related to the living environment. We test and evaluate these within clinical studies in selected groups of people. Projects are currently underway to combat self-injurious behavior, borderline disorders and emotional dysregulation.


Mental disorders are considered one of the greatest health-related challenges of the 21st century, affecting about 13 percent of children and adolescents worldwide and one in four children in Germany. The course of mental disorders is characterized by chronicity, a low level of psychosocial functioning, and suicidality, and is associated with considerable costs for the health system. In socio-political terms, the topic of prevention of mental disorders now enjoys a high priority. However, in relation to the increasing number of publications, programs and studies in German-speaking countries, the evidence for effective methods continues to be low. 

German Center of Prevention Research in Mental Health (DZPP)

Not least for this reason, the German Center of Prevention Research in Mental Health (DZPP) was founded in Würzburg in 2019 to implement scientific standards and to disseminate effective prevention programs on a broad scale. Through the nationally unique networking of cooperation partners, an innovative and sustainable structure for prevention work against mental disorders was created.

To the contents of the DZPP 

Research aims 

The working group "Translational Prevention and Intervention" of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics (CAPPP) Würzburg is part of the DZPP and pursues the following goals:

  • Causal research on the development of mental disorders in childhood and adolescence
  • Development, evaluation and dissemination of prevention programs in everyday life 
  • Early detection and prevention of severe courses of illness in the sense of targeted prevention

Current projects

Meta- and needs analysis on prevention

Within the framework of the development of an evidence-based guideline (S2e) on the topic of "Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Childhood and Adolescence", we are searching worldwide and in international comparison for programs and approaches that have already been tried and tested by studies. In the sense of a meta-analysis, we identify the most promising elements and concepts. Subsequently, we examine whether these results can be used to supplement and thus improve the German S2e guideline, especially with regard to preventive measures.

Virtual reality in emotion regulation disorders

Aversive emotional tension – unpleasant feelings directed towards oneself – can lead to self-injurious behavior and is associated with disorders of emotion regulation. The young people are unable to deal with their emotions. Can such aversive emotional tension be generated in virtual reality (VR)? In experimental trials, we analyze the possibilities of using VR for diagnosis and therapy, especially for adolescents with emotion regulation disorders and subsyndromal or manifest borderline personality disorder (BPD).


If it were possible to trigger emotional tension with the help of VR in a similar way as in real life, this would expand the therapeutic possibilities enormously: Frustration-ridden situations could be relived and worked on together with the therapist. Likewise, the level of frustration tolerance could be checked virtually and thus the therapeutic success could be classified.


"You and Your Emotions" (DUDE) is a project aimed at young people who self-harm with non-suicidal intent. A prevention program aims to improve emotion control skills. So-called life-skills approaches are pursued using competence strengthening and mental training. Currently, a study is being conducted in 3,200 students in our area to test the prevention program and evaluate its success.

Prevention of borderline personality disorder (BPD)

Our special outpatient clinic for risk behavior and self-harm @Risk serves the early detection of subsyndromal BPD in order to protect against a severe course of the disorder and psychosocial consequential damage of a manifest disorder. If there are concrete indications of a risk, those affected receive specialized psychotherapy, the so-called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) according to Marsha Linehan. This third-wave behavioral therapy, developed specifically for BPD, improves affect regulation through the use of skills: In a first step, triggers for mood swings are perceived and in a second step, behavioral patterns are worked out that help to control emotions.First results show that early detection and treatment is successful not only in the @Risk outpatient clinic but also internationally: An average of only 20 therapy sessions is already sufficient to significantly reduce the presence of criteria for BPD. 

Research team


Prof. Dr. med. Marcel Romanos 


Dr. phil. Arne Bürger, Postdoc
Sabrina Mittermeier M.Sc., doctoral student
Christin Scheiner M.Sc., doctoral student
Alexandra Seidel M.Sc., doctoral student
Felix Farschon, auxiliary scientist
Sarah Franke, auxiliary scientist
Viktoria Haase, assistant scientist
Malin Hager, Master student
Sarah Franke, Master student
Sophia Hütter, Master student
Lea Panning, Master student

Clinical Team

Dipl.-Psych. Lena Kittel
Dipl.-Psych. Isabel Paul

Selected publications

Buerger A, Ernst V, Wolter V, Huss M, Kaess M, Hammerle F
Treating eating disorders in the real world - MaiStep: A skill-based universal prevention for schools.
Prev Med. 2019 June; 123:324-332
Go to publication

Buerger A, Fischer-Waldschmidt G, Hammerle F, Auer KV, Parzer P, Kaess M
Differential Change of Borderline Personality Disorder Traits During Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Adolescents
J Pers Disord. 2019 Feb; 33(1):119-134. 
Go to publication 

Kolar DR, Hammerle F, Jenetzky E, Huss M, Bürger A
Aversive tension in female adolescents with Anorexia Nervosa: a controlled ecological momentary assessment using smartphones. 
BMC Psychiatry. 2016 Apr; 12; 16:97. doi: 10.1186/s12888-016-0807-8
Go to publication  


Portraitfoto von Dr. phil. Arne Bürger

Dr. phil.
Arne Bürger

Leitender Psychologe der Ambulanz

+49 931 201-78600

Portraitfoto von Univ. Prof. Dr. med. Marcel Romanos

Univ.-Prof. Dr. med.
Marcel Romanos

Klinikdirektor Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie

+49 931 201-78000

Portraitfoto von Prof. Dr. med. Lorenz Deserno

Prof. Dr. med.
Lorenz Deserno

W2-Professur für Experimentelle Neurowissenschaften in der Entwicklungspsychiatrie

+49 931 201-78090



Klinik und Poliklinik für KJPPP
Poliklinik und Privatambulanz
+49 931 201-78600

Zentrale Dienstnummer & Dienstarzt
+49 931 201-78888

Pforte Zentrum für Psychische Gesundheit
+49 931 201-76050

Sekretariat Tagesklinik
+49 931 250-8040

Prof. Dr. Marcel Romanos
+49 931 201-78000

Stellvertretende Direktion
PD Dr. Regina Taurines
+49 931 201-78010


Direktion / Prof. Dr. Marcel Romanos

PD Dr. Regina Taurines


+49 931 201-78040

+49 931 201-78620


Klinik und Poliklinik für Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie, Psychosomatik und Psychotherapie des Universitätsklinikums | Margarete-Höppel-Platz 1 | 97080 Würzburg | Deutschland