Anita Lungu’s Bio

I began my career in the field of computer science in Romania by obtaining my B.Sc. in that specialty. I also became a partner in a software development company. I ultimately pursued and obtained a PhD in computer science at Duke University. While pursuing my doctoral degree at Duke University I supplemented my education, out of personal interest, with a significant number of undergraduate and graduate courses in psychology, an area I had not been exposed to in my country of origin. Towards the end of my doctoral degree in computer science, I realized I was truly passionate about clinical psychology and wanted to pursue that as a career.

Consequently I am now pursuing a PhD degree in clinical psychology at University of Washington’s having Dr. Marsha Linehan as an academic adviser.

As a result of this sometimes nonlinear path, I see myself as being in the fortunate position of having knowledge in two different fields and languages that have been apart until relatively recently: clinical psychology and computer science. I believe these are very interesting times for both.

Within psychology, advances in treatment development research have resulted in the creation of many treatments that effectively target a variety of mental health problems. However, this hasn’t resulted in individuals with behavioral problems actually receiving these treatments. Limited resources and training opportunities often make many of the effective treatments unreachable. The field of computer science, on the other hand, is undergoing tremendous change and exciting advancements. State of the art technology (such as mobile smart phones, portable laptops or tablets) makes it easy to perform previously tedious or difficult tasks (such as documenting procedures), connect people, as well as transfer information and knowledge.

This technological advancement can be transformed into an extraordinary opportunity for the field of mental health by converting existing effective treatments into a format that can be disseminated through technology to a scale that was hard to imagine a few decades ago.

In my current research in clinical psychology I am interested in developing and evaluating persuasive technology applications for the area of mental health treatments and trainings, particularly in the area of Dialectical Behavior Therapy. In terms of treatments I am particularly interested in helping clients acquire, practice and generalize behavioral skills for managing challenging situations effectively.