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Personal profile

Research Interests

Research interests

My main area of interest has been mental health linked to trauma and conflict and the development of evidence based psychological interventions, in particular cognitive therapy for conflict related PTSD.

1. In 1998 after the Omagh bombing I was invited with Dr Kate Gillespie to co-lead the work of the H&SC Trauma & Recovery team. In collaboration with Profs David M Clark and Anke Ehlers, Oxford university and KCL, we led and evaluated the application of a new cognitive model for PTSD with victims of this traumatic event.

2. Since 1998 I have systematically explored the phenomenology of PTSD linked to civil conflict and researched the effectiveness of Trauma Focussed cognitive behavioural psychotherapy (TFCBT) with other conflict related traumas via single case studies, a case series and clinical trials. Between 2003 – 2005, my colleagues and I helped secure funding for, managed and supervised a randomised controlled trial comparing cognitive therapy for PTSD with a wait list group. The trial has since been published in the British Medical Journal.

3. I have also been co -Investigator in large population and school based studies to explore predictors of PTSD and factors that may promote resilience or inhibit recovery. I have co-published several papers on cognitive predictors of PTSD and continue to collaborate with colleagues at Oxford ( Prof DM Clark and Prof Anke Ehlers) and the Institute of Psychiatry, at KCL/Maudsley on trauma related research.

4. Under the leadership of myself and Dr Kate Gillespie our local group has built considerable expertise in the treatment of trauma and we have been consequently invited to present many TFCBT workshops for clinicians working with survivors after tragedies such as: the 9/11 Twin Towers attack New York (2004); 7/11 bombings London  (2005); Oslo bombing and Utoya Island shootings in Norway (2012). In June  2017 I have provided a keynote on "the psychologival care of victims of terrorism" at the prestigious Summer school at the Complutense University Madrid. I have been advising the Manchester Mental Health Senior staff on responses for victims of the terrorist attack at the Manchester concert hall on 22 May 17 and am delivering a keynote on "evidence based responses for PTSD" in Manchester on 1 August 17 for 150 therapists working with victims of this tragedy. 

5. My trauma studies have had a strong impact in the field securing invitations to present our research at many international conferences includinga keynote address and present papers at 2 symposia at the BABCP annual conference in June 2016.

6. Locally, I have advised policy makers and local Health and Victims commissioning agencies on trauma services and in November 2015, with Dr Ciaran Mulholland School of Medicine Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences QUB, I have successfully presented a proposal for a new regional specialist trauma service to political leaders at the Northern Ireland Assembly. The Assembly Health minister has subsequently endorsed and agreed to fund this important project.

7. In November 2015, with Dr Ciaran Mulholland,  I co-organised and presented research at a well attended 2 day Trauma conference at Ridell hall QUB entitled "Treating the Trauma of the Troubles with experts presenting research updates on a range of treatments for a multi disciplinary audience.

8. In order to disseminate the knowledge and skills protocols derived from these studies I have designed a new specialist TFCBT MSc course at Queen's university.

9. I have also conducted research into factors associated with enduring effects of CBT training. In the period  2010 - 2012 I helped co-design and  deliver a short agency based low intensity CBT course in the Republic of Ireland for 500 mental health staff and conducted a study of trainees, mentors and managers at end of training and 1 year follow up. .

 Current research

1.  I am PI on an ESRC NSPCC funded study of PTSD in children and adolescents exposed to abuse or neglect. The study has 2 parts; one to test the feasibility of frontline child care staff using a PTSD screening instrument and two a randomized controlled trial to compare the effectiveness of trauma focused cognitive therapy with interventions as ususal for the treatmet of PTSD in adolescents.  

2.  I am currently studying the phenomenology of complicated grief and testing the components of a potentially new cognitive model with a grant application for a single case series. I have presented a workshop on my outline of a new model at the BABCP Spring conference in 2015 and am collaborating with colleagues at Oxford university to explore this important new potential intervention. I have just published a paper on a cognitive approach to complex grief.

3. I am collaborating with Dr Mulholland on studies exploring links between conflict, trauma and psychosis

4. I am collaborating with colleagues studying the rate and pattern of prescribed medications for mental illness in Northern Ireland in comparison with other regions

5. I am supervising one final year PhD student- thesis title - "a cognitve behavioural perspective on post relationship dissolution distress" and one first year PhD study - title  - "the phenomenoilogy of complex grief reactions-  a cognitive approach"


Research Interests

Mental Health 

Psychological Therapies

PTSD and Complex PTSD

Prolonged Grief Disorder

Trauma associated with conflict





Fellowship/ Membership

Fellow of British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies

Member of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy at the Beck Institute

Member of the UK Trauma Council

Member of the European Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies

Accredited by



Expertise related to UN SDGs

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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