Early emotional and social 'health' are the building blocks of future mental health and psychosocial functioning. That is at the core of much of my research as a developmental psychologist, and I tend to focus on the contexts of parent-child interactions and family milieu. My research interests include clinical and other vulnerable contexts, evaluating parenting-based interventions, and normative development. I also have an interest in how we are shaped by cultural and socioeconomic factors, and cross-cultural perspectives. Most of my observational research is in the 0-3 year age group.
I have worked and continue to work in three research groups:
- Social Development Research Group, with Professor Jonathan Green, especially on infants at elevated likelihood of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders (and with colleagues in Birkbeck, University of London), and separately on attachment in middle childhood
- Parenting and Families Research Group, with Dr Anja Wittkowski, on early attachment and perinatal mental health, including our forthcoming formation of a recently funded perinatal research unit (PRIME-RU)
- Centre for Women's Mental Health, with Professor Kathryn Abel, on parental mental health with a focus on the brain-behaviour link
I have enjoyed working with colleagues in several international research collaborations and continue to do so, especially contributing my input in parent-infant/toddler interaction measurement. I am Associate Editor for Psychotherapy and and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice.
I co-deliver several units on the BSc Psychology and MSc Clinical and Health Psychology programmes. My teaching tends to emphasise a developmental (and systemic) perspective to understanding mental health. My supevisory roles include research projects of trainees on the Clinical Psychology doctorate (ClinPsyD) and PhD, as well as at BSc and PhD. I am Study Abroad Lead for the BSc Psychology (With International Study) programme. Continuing on the diversity theme, I am also a member of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity in Teaching (EDIT) working group on the BSc Psychology.
I lead occasional trainings for researchers and practitioners interested in assessing parent-child relationships, and provide input into related research projects on a consultancy or collaborative basis. Those interested in the Manchester Assessment of Caregiver-Infant Interaction (MACI) or Manchester Child Attachment Story Task (MCAST) are directed to the 'Methodological Knowledge' tab at the top of the page. Note that these are in-person training workshops followed by a period of practice and/or reliability assessment completed remotely with feedback. Unfortunately, no online training nor completely-remote training is available at this time.
After completing my degree at Lancaster University in 1997, I completed my MSc then PhD in psychology at the University of Manchester. In 2003, I secured a Research Fellowship in the School of Medicine at the University of Manchester, studying children of mothers with severe mental disorder and depression in the Centre for Women's Mental Health. During this time, I became incredibly interested in mother-infant interactions and attachment and my research evolved into studying parent-child relationships in other at-risk or vulnerable groups. In 2009, I took on a lectureship, contributing to the MBChB degree programme in Medicine and supervising postgraduate research students. Since 2016, I have been based in the Division of Psychology of Mental Health in the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health. I teach psychology at undergraduate and postgraduate level alongside pursuing my research interests.