Professor Henk T. van der Molen (06-10-1954, Vrouwenparochie) studied clinical psychology at the University of Groningen and obtained his doctorate cum laude in 1985 for the thesis ‘Help as education. Effects of courses for shy people.’ He was the first Professor of Psychology at the Open University, where he was appointed in 1992 at the age of 38 and where he developed a new major in Health Psychology. From 1999, he held the position of Dean of Psychology at the Open University.

In 2001, he co-founded the Psychology programme at Erasmus University Rotterdam with Professor Henk G. Schmidt. This programme was innovative in its combination of problem-based education and intensive professional skills training. In developing the programme, Henk van der Molen explicitly focused on developing this training, which he paired with systematic research into its effectiveness. Many generations of students have used the book ‘Psychological Interviewing. A Basis for Counselling’ in their training, which he co-wrote with his supervisor, Gerrit Lang. This book now is in its 18th printing.

He conducted research on the method of Microtraining together with several PhD students. The results showed that the method was valid and effective not only for psychology students but also for students of educational sciences, law and medicine and for other groups, such as group leaders in youth counselling and social workers. He also used the method to train students in psychodiagnostic skills and academic writing skills. For the implementation of the method, he developed, with his collaborators, more than 20 audiovisual programmes and 20 interactive computer programmes, called ViPs (Skills in Psychology).

From 2009-2018, Henk van der Molen was dean of the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences. In that capacity, he played a significant role in introducing the Binding Study Advice of 60 EC, Nominal = Normal, and he stimulated the further internationalisation of the School’s educational programmes. Several new (international) programmes saw the light of day during that time. He also guided the School through a difficult period involving budget cuts and a reorganisation.

In addition to his paid position, he was active as an unpaid board member of, among others, the Netherlands Institute of Psychologists, of which he was chairperson of the board during many years, the Postdoctoral Training Foundation GGZ Leiden/Rotterdam and the Kamer Psychologie (Psychology Chamber) of the Universities of the Netherlands.

Henk van der Molen always knew how to turn something into a festive event. He was known for his wonderful speeches and his great song lyrics. He was a beloved colleague by many. He was also much loved by his PhD students and many other PhD students, who asked him to chair their PhD ceremonies. He devoted his heart and soul to the Institute of Psychology and to the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences.

He retired on 8 October 2021. On that occasion, he was appointed Officer in the Order of Oranje-Nassau. Mayor Aboutaleb of the city of Rotterdam awarded him this royal decoration for his outstanding (inter)national achievements in his field, Psychology. He and his partner were able to enjoy his retirement too briefly.

We wish his partner Ryan, his family, friends, and former colleagues much strength to bear this great loss.

Victor Bekkers

Dean Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Daphne van de Bongardt

Director Department Psychology, Education and Child Studies

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