Dr Anja Wittkowski BSc (Hons), MPhil, Clin Psy D

Clinical Senior Lecturer

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Research interests

My research interests centre around the study of perinatal clinical psychology including the assessment and psychological treatment of antenatal and postpartum psychological difficulties, the assessment of the mother-infant bond and the impact of mental health difficulties (in particular depressive and psychotic illnesses) on this relationship. I am also particularly interested in the influence of maternal attitudes and expectations on maternal sensitivity and responsiveness towards her infant. My study on ‘Perceptions of bonding, maternal sensitivity and mentalising ability in mothers with serious mental health difficulties and in mothers with no psychiatric difficulties (MIRAM study)’ has now finished recruitment, while my study on ‘Parenting Approaching: A comparison of Baby Triple P Positive Parenting Programme versus Baby Massage on the Manchester Mother and Baby Unit is still ongoing’.

The evaluation of psychological and parenting interventions for parents with mild to severe mental health problems remains one of my main research foci as evidenced by my current projects including the THRIVE trial. I am the Manchester lead for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) THRIVE trial and the only clinical psychologist and researcher with expertise and experience in the perinatal field and the application of Baby Triple P in a mental health context. I will oversee the assessment of the mother-infant-relationship, which includes the management and supervision of two Research Assistants, based at the University of Manchester.

In addition, the best assessment of and (cost-) effective intervention for the adjustment to parenthood is being pursued through my involvement with the Beyond Blue research project, led by Professor David Kavanagh from the Queensland University of Technology in Australia. The trial materials and online applications can easily be transferred into other English-speaking contexts once developed. Current research with commercial partners will also highlight aspects of the adjustment process and indicate effective approaches increasing parental confidence and well-being.

Finally, in collaboration with Kerri McPherson from the Glasgow Caledonian University I am leading on the UK version of the International Parenting Survey (IPS).

Methodological knowledge

* Systematic reviews

* Questionnaire and survey design

* Mixed methods designs 

* RCTs

* Working knowledge of IPA, Grounded Theory, Thematic Analysis, Repertory Grid Technique, Q-metholody