Psychosocial Interventions

The Psychosocial Interventions research theme looks at the efficacy, effectiveness, process and experience of psychological and social interventions for psychological disorders and distress.

The research we do spans topics from the process of change in group therapy for personality disorder, the role of mindfulness in wellbeing at work and mental health and wellbeing in other health conditions, telepsychology or e-mental health, compassion focused therapies and interventions for people with long term physical health conditions and common mental health problems, and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. We collaborate with a number of external partners including schools, HM Prison Service, probation, NHS Trusts and charitable bodies.

We collaborate with a number of external partners including schools, HM Prison Service, probation, NHS Trusts and charitable bodies.

Research strengths

Simon Draycott's research interests fall broadly within the domains of forensic work and/or personality disorders.  Within this Simon is interested in basic psychological processes underlying personality disorders such as psychopathy and borderline personality disorder, and in particular how people with these disorders pay attention to and interpret emotional information. He is also interested in process and outcome studies for psychological therapy in this area, with a focus on small-n designs including experimental single-case designs. More broadly, Simon is interested in the processes through which individuals come to commit themselves to behavioural change, and equally the processes through which they talk themselves out of change or commit themselves to the status quo. 

Mary John has an interest in developing psychological interventions with a particular focus on young people. The aim being to facilitate their ability to manage life challenges as they navigate their childhood and adolescence and reduce the longer-term impact of these challenges. For many there are physical as well as emotional challenges that have to be met. The majority of the current interventions have been developed by professional for this populations or adapted from the adult theoretical literature. My research is looking to develop bespoke interventions for young people in the community to help foster coping and building resilience. Projects that are ongoing are An Acceptance and commitment therapy intervention for boys with anger issues in schools. Strategies to build coping and help seeking for young people who are considering self-harming. A teacher based e-learning intervention to build confidence and competence associated with self-harm. Young people managing self -harm and Boys helping seeking attitudes associated with eating problems. 

Dawn Querstret's research interests fall broadly within the domains of clinical health psychology and occupational health psychology. She has an interest in mindfulness and other (e.g., CBT) interventions for psychological health, specifically in relation to emotion regulation. Current research focus is on assessing the efficacy of online mindfulness interventions for emotion dysregulation in a range of health conditions. Current projects involve multiple sclerosis and stroke; however, she is also interested in assessing online mindfulness interventions in other health conditions. Dawn is currently developing a pilot modular eLearning programme in which to operationalise different forms of therapy for different health conditions and different populations, so projects assessing its feasibility will be a focus moving forward. Dawn is also interested in the mental health consequences of being unable to ‘switch off’ from work; predominantly interested in work-related rumination, its relationship with other forms of perseverative thinking (e.g., depressive rumination and worry), and the impact of perseverative cognition on psychological and physical health. Dawn and Linda Morison (see below) are also interested in developing and evaluating interventions to improve women’s experience of hormonal disruption (e.g., menopause). 

Alesia Moulton-Perkins' research is informed by theories and models including attachment, mentalization, cognitive behavioural therapy, and Third Wave CBT approaches such as compassion-focused therapy, mindfulness and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Alesia is also interested in mind-body links (psychoneuroimmunology, psychophysiology) as applied to people with long term health conditions, and common mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Currently she is particularly interested in using the above theories as a lens through which to explore the potential of online interventions to improve mental health; e.g.  Telepsychology (the delivery of psychological therapy via videoconferencing) and Avatar therapy (the use of avatars therapeutically, particularly amongst people with common mental health problems such as anxiety or depression, or with long term health conditions). 

Linda Morison conducts research in three major areas: interpersonal relationships and mental health; the social context of mental health; and flourishing (surviving) at work. Interpersonal relationship research focuses on the role of relationships (close or intimate relationships and the broader social environment) in promoting and maintaining mental health. For example, one focus is on methods of counselling and therapy (IPC, IPT) that strengthen mental well-being by improving the quality of relationships. The social content of mental health is concerned with mental and emotional health and access to services differ by age, gender, social class and ethnicity. These factors often interact together to form particular forms of vulnerability to experiencing severe psychological distress and whether and how help is sort. We need to understand these factors so that we can identify ways to reduce vulnerability in different groups and offer appropriate help to all. Finally, flourishing (surviving) at work is concerned with the reduction of stress and enhancement of productivity or the experience of work. Approaches include mindfulness, resilience training and developing particular mindsets. There is some evidence supporting the beneficial effects of some of these (for example mindfulness and stress reduction) but more research is needed to understand which approaches work, who for and why. 

For further information about the team's research interests and current projects being supervised, please visit their staff profile page.

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School of Psychology
Elizabeth Fry building
University of Surrey