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Dr Alesia Moulton-Perkins

Senior Teaching Fellow

Academic and research departments

School of Psychology.



My first degree was in Sociology and Social Anthropology from Hull University 1987-1990. I travelled and lived in the US for a few years before completing a PGCE in Edinburgh in 1995 and an MA in Education with the Open University shortly after. I worked as a teacher in Spain and then in the UK. In 2004 I left teaching to pursue a new career in psychology, completing a Masters of Experimental Psychology at Sussex University (2005) and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (2006-2009) at the University of Surrey. I pursued further specialist training in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy at Canterbury Christ Church University. As a clinical psychologist, I have worked in services including Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT), clinical health psychology, and a neurobehavioural clinic in Brighton training and placements for pre-registration psychologists. In January 2017 I moved to work four days a week as a senior teaching fellow on the clinical psychology doctoral training programme at the University of Surrey, and one day a week advising on the Long Term Conditions expansion project in Health in Mind, an IAPT service in East Sussex.

Research interests

My doctoral research was on mentalization, personality disorders and eating disorders. This included contributing to the development of a self-report measure of mentalization, the Reflective Functioning Questionnaire, with Prof Peter Fonagy at UCL. Since then my research interests have moved into third wave cognitive behavioural therapies, particularly Compassion Focused Therapy. In 2017 I was awarded a NIHR clinical academic research internship to conduct research into technology assisted psychological therapies. In collaboration with a company called ProReal I am developing a manualised intervention using CBT and compassion focused ideas for people with depression and a long term health conditions, an intervention I hope to evaluate once further research funding has been secured.

Theories and models that inform my research include attachment, mentalization, cognitive behavioural therapy, and Third Wave CBT approaches such as compassion-focused therapy, mindfulness and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. I am 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 I am particularly interested in using the above theories as a lens through which to explore the potential of online interventions to improve mental health.

Telepsychology (the delivery of psychological therapy via videoconferencing), including:

Treatment efficacy: Treatment efficacy of telepsychology v traditional face to face therapy. Impact on healthcare usage of telepsychology: can telepsychology reduce appointment non-attendance and reduce number of appointments needed? Recording online sessions and impact on client improvement rates. Supervision of psychological therapists and the use of recorded telepsychology sessions: impact on client improvement.Therapeutic relationship: Impact on the therapeutic relationship of videoconferencing. How the therapeutic alliance can be enhanced using technological advances e.g. using software such as Catch Eye which facilitates eye to eye contact in videoconferencing.Therapist, client and organizational characteristics associated with adoption of new technologies: Investigating client attitudes to telepsychology and their perceptions of the advantages and disadvantages. Therapist beliefs about telepsychology and their relationship to personality and therapeutic modality. Differences in attitudes and adoption towards telepsychology amongst therapists from different psychological therapy professions. Use of telepsychology amongst patients with mobility or health issues e.g. chronic pain and other long term conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease. Using telepsychology with students in psychological distress: acceptability, feasibility and outcome.

Avatar therapy

I am interested in researching the use of avatars therapeutically, particularly amongst people with common mental health problems such as anxiety or depression. I am also interested in exploring its efficacy amongst patients with term health conditions who are distressed.Developing and testing interventions: Assessing the efficacy of avatar therapy remotely via videoconferencing for patients with depression and LTC. Developing an intervention integrating compassion-focussed ideas with avatars to help self-critical individuals decentre. How does concurrent use of two software programmes affect mental load and perceived usefulness of therapy?Client variables associated with treatment acceptance and outcome: Who has control in the shared, live virtual environment? Patient and therapist characteristics associated with agenda and protocol adherence. What is the effect on outcome? What client demographic or psychological characteristics are associated with acceptance of avatar therapy? How does client and therapist attachment style affect adoption/acceptance rates?Imagery, perspective taking and the role of the virtual environment: What is the role of imagery in the emotional processing engendered by the virtual environment and avatars? How are features of virtual landscapes and their 'boundaries' understood by patients in virtual reality and what is their effect on patients' ability to explore psychological issues. Patient projection and non-gendered avatars: does having a very simple neutral avatar affect the patient's ability to explore interpersonal and intrapersonal dynamics? Can emotional regulation and interpersonal difficulties be improved through viewing situations from different avatar viewpoints. What is the impact on mentalization and theory of mind? Can avatar therapy help people with autism to develop greater mentalization and theory of mind?

Research collaborations

In collaboration with a company called ProReal who produce avatar-based software used in executive coaching and psychological therapy contexts I am currently working on a research project which will evaluate a brief compassion focused avatar therapy for patients with long term health problems and depression delivered via videoconferencing. Collaborators on this project include Clara Strauss at the University of Sussex amongst others, and internally Dawn Querstret. Other internal collaborations on telepsychology projects more generally include Laura Simonds and Bob Patton (University of Surrey).


I teach on various modules on the clinical psychology doctoral training programme: Therapeutic Models and Processes - CBT (Foundation and Advanced), Building a Therapeutic Alliance, Attachment and Research Methods.

Departmental duties

CBT lead: I convene the Therapeutic Model and Practices: CBT Foundation and Advanced modules, and the BTA unit with Lucy Hale. I am currently creating a specialist CBT pathway for trainees that will enable the programme to apply for British Association of Cognitive and Behavioural Psychotherapies (BABCP) accreditation.

Quality Assurance lead for the clinical psychology doctoral training programme.

Marking: I conduct a range of marking on the clinical psychology doctorate.

Research supervision: I am currently co-supervising four Major Research Projects: Three second years (cohort 45):Bec Harvey (with Laura Simonds) 'Am I clean yet? Reducing mental contamination with compassionate imagery' (quantitative methodology)Rachel Perett (with Laura Simonds) 'An Investigation into the relationship between dissociation and mental contamination' (quantitative methodology)Emma Sanchez-Walker (with Dawn Questret) 'Online mindfulness to improve mental health and wellbeing in a work-based population' (quantitative methodology)

One third year trainee (Cohort 44) Suzie Richardson (with Kate Gleeson) 'Fathers' experiences in caring for a son/daughter with psychosis' (qualitative methodology)

I hope to supervise three first year projects from November 2017 (cohort 46). Trainee clinical psychologists interested in researching telepsychology or avatar therapy should contact me (more details available on 'Research Interests' tab of this web page).

Clinical/line management supervision: I am a clinical tutor to four trainees on the clinical psychology doctoral programme.


British Psychological Society - Chartered Clinical Psychologist (203219)

Health and Social Care Professions: Registered Practitioner Psychologist (PYL24461)

British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies- Accredited CBT Therapist (100817)

Conference Presentations

Compassion-focused cognitive therapy using online avatars: development and initial piloting of Compassionate ProReal, an adjunctive therapy for people with depression and long term health conditions Poster presented at the International Society of Internet Interventions, Berlin 12-14th October 2017

Compassion focused avatar therapy for comorbid depression and LTCs (2017) Presentation to Wessex Branch of the British Psychological Society, June 2017

Using social media to promote patient involvement in clinical health psychology (2013) Convened a symposium and presented at the Faculty of Clinical Health Psychology of the British Psychological Society Annual conference, York.

Mentalization in eating disorders, borderline personality disorder and 'expert' groups (2012) Presentation at the University of Surrey clinical psychology research conference

Further development and validation of the RFQ54, a self-report measure of mentalization (2011) Paper presented at British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy Conference, Liverpool.

A new self-report measure of mentalization (2010) Paper presented at Society for Psychotherapy Research Conference, UK Chapter, Ravenscar

Bringing compassion to adults with ADHD: A 10 session CBT for ADHD group (2016) Poster presented at the Compassionate Mind's 6th International Conference, Birmingham.

Sussex Network of Advanced Pain management Services (SNAPS) (2011) Poster presented at the British Pain Society, Pain Management Annual Conference, Bath.

My publications


Peer-reviewed journals:

Fonagy, P., Luyten, P., Moulton-Perkins, A., Lee, Y.W., Warren, F., Howard, S., Ghinai, R. Fearon, P. & Lowyck, B. (2016). Development and validation of a self-report measure of mentalizaing: the Reflective Functioning Questionnaire. PLoS ONE 11(17).

Book chapters:

Busuttil, A., Tuite, M. & Moulton-Perkins, A. (2015). Working with people with physical health problems. In G. Davey, Lake, N. & Whittington, A. (Ed.), Topics in Applied Psychology: Clinical Psychology. (2nd ed.). Hove: Routledge.

Moulton-Perkins, A., & Whittington, A. (2015). Working with people with anxiety disorders. In G. Davey, N. Lake & A. Whittington (Eds.), Topics in Applied Psychology: Clinical Psychology (2nd ed.). Hove: Routledge.


Horsley, B., Moulton-Perkins, A., & Belchamber, G. (2016). A survey of staff attitudes and practices around patient involvement in a clinical health psychology specialty. Clinical Psychology Forum, 287, 15-20.

Meddings, S., Perkins, A., Wharne, S., Ley, P., Collins, T., & Wilson, Y. (2007, May). Being assertive effectively. Mental Health Today, 34-36.

Moulton-Perkins, A. & Tibbles, J. (2016). Bringing compassion to adults with ADHD: A 10 session CBT for ADHD group. Poster presented at the Compassionate Mind's 6th International Conference, Birmingham.

Moulton-Perkins, A., & Tuite, M. (2014). Facing your fear and doing it anyway: Using social media professionally. Clinical Psychology Forum, 260.

Moulton-Perkins, A., & Tuite, M. (2011). Sussex Network of Advanced Pain management Services (SNAPS). Poster presented at the British Pain Society Pain Management Annual Conference, Bath.

Perkins, A. (2008). Review of the book 'Managing Social Anxiety: A Cognitive-Behavioral Approach'. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 36,(1), 119-120.

Stevens, D., Whittington, A., Moulton-Perkins, A. & Palachandran, V. (2015). Voluntary psychology graduate internships: Conveyor belt of exploitation or stepping stone to success? Clinical Psychology Forum, 270.