UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


Psychological Therapy


The psychological therapies research theme is focused on the development and evaluation of novel approaches to psychological treatment with a particular emphasis on individuals and families who have traditionally not been in receipt of or who were seen as not likely to benefit from psychological interventions including adults with personality disorders, children and young people with conduct disorders, adults with learning disabilities and substance misuse. 

The theme has a strong commitment to the development of theory based approaches to treatment drawing for example on attachment theory and behaviour change theory. The theme has excellent links with basic neuroscience colleagues at which UCL which informs not only the development of new psychological interventions but also helps identify the psychological processes which underpin change in psychological interventions. These research themes also link with a range of post-graduate programmes in child development and neuroscience, and cognitive behavioural therapy for children and young people in conjunction with the Anna Freud Centre, and in research methods, cognitive neuroscience behaviour change and low-intensity cognitive behavioural interventions in conjunction with colleagues at UCL.

START (Systemic Therapy for At Risk Teens): A National Randomized Controlled Trial to Evaluate Multisystemic Therapy in the UK Context 

PI: Peter Fonagy

The trial has been running since 2009 to December 2017, funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the National Institute for Health Research.

START is a multi-site trial of 700 families in the UK investigating form of intervention (multisystemic therapy) for young people and their families who are experiencing difficulties at home, at school and sometimes with the law. We are comparing Multisystemic Therapy (MST) with other services that are currently offered to young people and their families who are considered to be at ‘high risk’ of requiring out-of-home care such as fostering, social care or custody if associated with antisocial behaviour such as conviction as a young offender. The trial will answer the question of whether MST can contribute to significantly reducing the rate of out of home placement and see a (a) decrease in antisocial behaviour, (b) increase in the young person’s well-being, (c) improved educational outcomes and (d) improved family functioning.

Clarke, K., Mayo-Wilson-E., Kenny, J. and Pilling, S. (2015) Can non-pharmacological interventions prevent relapse in adults who have recovered from depression? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clinical Psychology Review. doi:10.1016/j.cpr.2015.04.002

Tomlinson, E., Spector, A., Nurock, S. and Stott, J (2015) Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in dementia: A qualitative study of the views of former dementia carers. DOI: 10.1177/0269216315582143

Midgley, N., Cregeen, S., Hughes, C., & Rustin, M. (2013). Psychoanalytic psychotherapy as a treatment for depression in adolescents. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 22, 67-82. doi: 10.1016/j.chc.2012.08.004

Bateman, A., & Fonagy, P. (2013). Impact of clinical severity on outcomes of mentalisation-based treatment for borderline personality disorder. British Journal of Psychiatry, 203, 221-227. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.112.121129