In this video interview, Dr. Tanja Jovanovic talks about her research on trauma, resiliency, and the use of a remote monitoring device in therapy sessions. Dr. Jovanovic describes how the Mindfield eSense Skin Response App measures a client’s degree of skin conduction—data that reflects the client’s level of distress—so that clinicians can track the client’s progress during a therapy session or across multiple meetings.
According to Dr. Jovanovic, this type of objective data is useful for mental health professionals because clients often “get detached” when talking about their trauma. As a result, clients tend to underreport their discomfort. By using a reliable device to measure points of activation, the therapy context itself becomes a container for analyzing in-session client outcomes. In one of her research studies where prolonged exposure therapy was implemented via virtual reality technology with military veterans, Dr. Jovanovic found that if clients “responded more [physiologically] before going into therapy, the therapy worked better.”
Throughout the interview, you’ll hear about Dr. Jovanovic’s research with children in Detroit and with adults in an emergency room setting. For the adult study, Dr. Jovanovic used a remote-monitoring application to predict PTSD outcomes and found that “greater than 90%” of participants were at risk of having PTSD based on the app’s reading. Dr. Jovanovic touches upon how the effects of trauma can change across the lifespan, and why racial factors are important considerations for understanding a client’s level of resilience.
Once the app has been downloaded, clients can use the Velcro straps on their fingers to see how their behavior in everyday life impacts how stressed they feel. To learn more about the app, you can visit the Mindfield Biosystems website here.
Dr. Jovanovic is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences—and the David and Patricia Barron Endowed Chair in PTSD Neurobiology—at Wayne State University. She is the Director of the Detroit Trauma Project, which investigates the impact of urban trauma exposure on the brain. Dr. Jovanovic has received grants from the National Institutes of Health and awards from the Brain and Behaviour Research Foundation, as well as having published over 200 peer-reviewed papers.