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Daniel Freeman

PhD DClinPsy CPsychol FBPsS FBA

Professor of Clinical Psychology

  • Lead, Oxford Cognitive Approaches to Psychosis (O-CAP)
  • National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Senior Investigator
  • Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
  • Psychological therapies theme co-lead, NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre
  • Founder of Oxford VR
  • Fellow, University College Oxford
  • Fellow, British Psychological Society
  • Fellow, British Academy

Follow Daniel Freeman on Twitter

Research Group: Oxford Cognitive Approaches to Psychosis (O-CAP)


Google Scholar 

BBC Radio 4 Series: A History of Delusions

* Please note that from April 2023 I have moved to the Department of Experimental Psychology 

Email address:

The purpose of my work is to make significant advances in the understanding and treatment of mental health disorders, particularly the problem of paranoia. Drawing on a variety of approaches, including epidemiological studies, psychological experiments, clinical trials, and a ground-breaking virtual reality laboratory, I use the theoretical knowledge to develop carefully tested psychological treatments that will truly make a difference.

At the moment several randomised controlled treatment trials are in progress. This includes a test of a new targeted, personalised psychological treatment for persecutory delusions, called the Feeling Safe Programme. This is a translational treatment built upon advances by my research group in the theoretical understanding of paranoia. The target is a recovery rate of 50% for persecutory delusions that have not responded to previous treatment. There are also a number of studies running that will lead to a greater understanding of the causes of psychotic experiences. The research is supported by the National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR), UK Medical Research Council (MRC), and the Wellcome Trust.

I pioneered the use of virtual reality (VR) to assess, understand, and treat paranoia. Subsequently I have led work designing and testing new automated VR psychological therapies for mental health disorders. The aim is to produce VR therapies that produce greater clinical effects than face-to-face therapies. I founded and am a non-executive board member of Oxford VR, a spinout company from the University. Oxford VR built on my research into the use of virtual reality to understand and treat psychological disorders. I founded the company in 2016 with Jason Freeman, Mel Slater, Bernhard Spanlang, and Mavi Sánchez-Vives.

I’m also committed to making knowledge of the best psychological research and treatments for mental health problems available to the general public. Therefore I’ve written a number of popular science books on mental health issues. The latest to appear is The Stressed Sex: Uncovering the Truth about Men, Women, and Mental Health, which sets out to answer a simple, but crucial, question: are rates of psychological disorder different for men and women? This important issue has been largely ignored in all the debates raging about gender differences.

I studied natural sciences at the University of Cambridge, completed a PhD and a doctorate in clinical psychology (DClinPsy) at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, then held a Wellcome Trust Fellowship and a Medical Research Council Senior Clinical Fellowship. In 2011 I moved to the University of Oxford and set up the Oxford Cognitive Approaches to Psychosis (O-CAP) research group. From 2015-2020 I was an NIHR Research Professor. I am the recipient of the 2020 British Psychological Society Presidents' Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychological Knowledge.

Recent open access papers

Automated virtual reality therapy to treat agoraphobic avoidance and distress in patients with psychosis (gameChange)

Comparison of a theoretically driven cognitive therapy (the Feeling Safe Programme) with befriending for the treatment of persistent persecutory delusions: a parallel, single-blind, randomised controlled trial

Effects of different types of written vaccination information on COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the UK (OCEANS-III)

COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the UK

Injection fears and COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

Sleep disturbance and psychiatric disorders

Automated virtual reality cognitive therapy for patients with psychosis

Automated psychological therapy using virtual reality (VR) for patients with persecutory delusions

Coronavirus conspiracy beliefs, mistrust, and compliance with government guidelines in England

Automated psychological therapy using immersive VR for treatment of fear of heights

Virtual reality in the assessment, understanding, and treatment of mental health disorders

Treatable clinical intervention targets for patients with schizophrenia

The weeks before 100 persecutory delusions

The effects of improving sleep on mental health (OASIS)

Persecutory delusions: a cognitive perspective on understanding and treatment [pdf]

Suicidal ideation and behaviour in patients with persecutory delusions

The Dunn Worry Questionnaire and the Paranoia Worries Questionnaire: new assessments of worry

The revised Green et al., Paranoid Thoughts Scale (R-GPTS)

Virtual reality in the treatment of persecutory delusions

The concomitants of conspiracy concerns

Effects of cognitive behaviour therapy for worry on persecutory delusions (WIT)

Efficacy of cognitive behavioural therapy for sleep improvement in patients with persistent delusions and hallucinations (BEST)

Targeting recovery in persistent persecutory delusions

Advances in understanding and treating persecutory delusions

How cannabis causes paranoia

Height, social comparison, and paranoia: an immersive virtual reality experimental study

Testing the effect on persecutory delusions of using CBT to reduce negative cognitions about the self



Direct Entry Research Degrees Doctoral Training Centre Degrees