Senior Post Doctoral Research Psychologist
My research focuses on what makes people vulnerable to depression and the ways in which we can reduce risk through the use of mindfulness-based interventions. In particular I am interested in severe recurrent depression and suicidality, and the origins and prevention of mental health problems in adolescence.
Depression is recognised as a huge and increasing problem and represents the greatest single cause of disability in the world today. The most common age of onset of depression is early adolescence, making this period a key point for preventative intervention.
My colleagues and I conduct research to explore the cognitive processes underlying vulnerability to depression, for example using experimental and survey methods to study the role of mindfulness, autobiographical memory, problem solving, self regulation and executive functioning. In recent years this work has included collaborations with researchers at the University of Bristol to explore the factors associated with adolescent-onset suicidal ideation and behaviour in the ALSPAC cohort.
Our current work focuses on the potential of mindfulness training delivered as a universal preventative intervention in schools through a Wellcome Trust funded strategic award, Mindfulness and Resilience in Adolescence (MYRIAD). This programme of research explores the impact of mindfulness training on adolescent cognition and social and emotional processing,the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of this training in improving adolescent wellbeing and reducing risk of depression and emotional /behavioural dysfunction and the most effective methods of training classroom teachers in its delivery. The PIs for this project are Professor Willem Kuyken and Professor Mark Williams, Oxford, Professor Tim Dalgleish, Cambridge and Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, UCL).
Previously we conducted a Wellcome Trust funded clinical trial Staying Well After Depression trial, which compared the efficacy of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, a psychoeducation comparison treatment and usual care in the prevention of relapse in individuals with highly recurrent major depression.
At the Oxford Mindfulness Centre we translate our research findings into ongoing clinical innovation and therapist training and collaborate closely with healthcare professionals in the National Health Service, charitable organisations such as the Charlie Waller Institute, and researchers in other academic departments in the UK and abroad. Our work on Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy contributed to the 2009 NICE guidelines for treatment of recurrent depression.
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