Department of Psychology

Dr Sarah Halligan

Sarah Halligan


10W 3.12

Tel: +44 (0) 1225 38 6636

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Dr Halligan’s research has been funded by the MRC, the ESRC and the Nuffield Foundation

Applications from PhD students welcome in any of the research areas described.


Dr Sarah Halligan is a Reader in Developmental Psychopathology. Her research examines factors that contribute to psychological disorder in children and adolescents, particularly considering social influences.

Dr Halligan has current projects funded by the ESRC, the British Academy, the Newton Fund and the NIHR. Each of these broadly investigates child psychological distress following exposure to traumatic event and other significant adversities, and the ways in which families can facilitate better outcomes. This work includes the UK based PROTECT study, which examines parental support for children following acute trauma exposure and its relationship to later PTSD; and also research focused on high risk populations in South Africa where trauma exposure is relatively common and formal psychological services are limited. This programme of research builds on Dr Halligan’s previous work in identifying disturbances in cognition/appraisals, trauma memories, and biological stress response systems that contribute to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Dr Halligan’s PTSD work reflects a broader interest in the processes via which social experiences may contribute to psychological disorder in young people. Using longitudinal designs, Dr Halligan studies psychological and biological pathways via which early experiences may contribute to risk for depressive disorder.

She is currently co-investigator on two NIHR funded studies examining:

  1. An intervention to reduce maternal stress in the perinatal period.
  2. The potential for parents to augment adolescent outcomes in response to CBT for depression.

Alongside these research interests, Dr Halligan is involved in coordinating and delivering clinical psychology teaching to both Psychology undergraduates and to postgraduate students completing the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology programme.

Research interests

  • Maternal depression and risk for depression in young people
  • Socio-cognitive process in the development of aggressive behaviour in children and adolescents
  • Family influences on child psychological recovery following trauma


Book Sections

Halligan, S., 2014. Neurobiological outcomes in the offspring of postnatally depressed mothers:causes and consequences. In: Pariente, C., Conroy, S., Dazzan, P., Howard, L., Pawlby, S. and Senevirante, T., eds. Perinatal Psychiatry. Oxford, U. K.: Oxford University Press, pp. 160-174.

Murray, L., Halligan, S. and Cooper, P. J., 2010. Effects of postnatal depression on mother-infant interactions and child development. In: Wachs, T. and Bremner, G., eds. Handbook of Infant Development (2nd ed.). Oxford, U. K.: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 192-220. (Wiley-Blackwell Handbooks of Developmental Psychology)

Cooper, P., Murray, L. and Halligan, S., 2010. Treatment of post-partum depression. In: Tremblay, R. E., Barr, R. G., Peters, R.D. and Boivin, M., eds. Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development. Montreal, Canada: Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development.


Barry, T. J., Murray, L., Fearon, P., Moutsiana, C., Johnstone, T. and Halligan, S., 2017. Amygdala volume and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis reactivity to social stress. Psychoneuroendocrinology

Williamson, V., Creswell, C., Butler, I., Christie, H. and Halligan, S., 2017. Parental Experiences of Supporting Children with Clinically Significant Post-Traumatic Distress:a Qualitative Study of Families Accessing Psychological Services. Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma

Williamson, V., Butler, I., Tomlinson, M., Skeen, S., Christie, H., Stewart, J. and Halligan, S., 2017. Forthcoming. Caregiver Responses to Child Posttraumatic Distress: A Qualitative Study in a High Risk Context in South Africa. Journal of Traumatic Stress

Williamson, V., Creswell, C., Fearon, P., Hiller, R. M., Walker, J. and Halligan, S. L., 2017. The role of parenting behaviors in childhood post-traumatic stress disorder:a meta-analytic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 53, pp. 1-13.

Hiller, R., Halligan, S., Tomlinson, M., Stewart, J., Skeen, S. and Christie, H., 2017. Forthcoming. Post-Trauma Coping in the Context of Significant Adversity: A Qualitative Study of Young People Living in an Urban Township in South Africa. BMJ Open

Williamson, V., Creswell, C., Butler, I., Christie, H. and Halligan, S. L., 2016. Parental responses to child experiences of trauma following presentation at emergency departments:a qualitative study. BMJ Open, 6 (11), e012944.

Hiller, R. M., Meiser-Stedman, R., Fearon, P., Lobo, S., MacKinnon, A., Fraser, A. and Halligan, S. L., 2016. Changes in the prevalence and symptom severity of child PTSD in the year following trauma:a meta-analytic study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 57 (8), pp. 884-898.

MacDonald, B., Murray, L., Moutsiana, C., Fearon, P., Cooper, P. J., Halligan, S. L. and Johnstone, T., 2016. Altered engagement of autobiographical memory networks in adult offspring of postnatally depressed mothers. Biological Psychology, 118, pp. 147-153.

Wilkinson, E. L., O'Mahen, H. A., Fearon, P., Halligan, S., King, D. X., Greenfield, G., Dunkley-Bent, J., Ericksen, J., Milgrom, J. and Ramchandani, P. G., 2016. Adapting and testing a brief intervention to reduce maternal anxiety during pregnancy (ACORN):study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials, 17 (156), 1 - 9.

Hiller, R., Halligan, S., Ariyanayagam, R., Dalgleish, T., Smith, P., Yule, W., Glucksman, E., Watson, P. and Meiser-Stedman, R., 2016. Predictors of posttraumatic stress symptom trajectories in parents of children exposed to motor vehicle collisions. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 41 (1), pp. 108-116.

Chapman, R., Parkinson, M. and Halligan, S., 2016. How do parent-child interactions predict and maintain depression in childhood and adolescence? A critical review of the literature. Adolescent Psychiatry, 6 (2), pp. 100-115.

Moutsiana, C., Johnstone, T., Murray, L., Fearon, P., Cooper, P. J., Pliatsikas, C., Goodyer, I. and Halligan, S. L., 2015. Insecure attachment during infancy predicts greater amygdala volumes in early adulthood. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 56 (5), pp. 540-548.

Barry, T. J., Murray, L., Fearon, R. M. P., Moutsiana, C., Cooper, P., Goodyer, I. M., Herbert, J. and Halligan, S. L., 2015. Maternal postnatal depression predicts altered offspring biological stress reactivity in adulthood. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 52 (1), pp. 251-260.

Healy, S. J., Murray, L., Cooper, P. J., Hughes, C. J. and Halligan, S. L., 2015. A longitudinal investigation of maternal influences on the development of child hostile attributions and aggression. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 44 (1), pp. 80-92.

Moutstiana, C., Fearon, P., Murray, L., Cooper, P., Goodyer, I., Johnstone, T. and Halligan, S., 2014. Making an effort to feel positive:insecure attachment in infancy predicts the neural underpinnings of emotion regulation in adulthood. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 55 (9), pp. 999-1008.

Gunning, M., Halligan, S. L. and Murray, L., 2013. Contributions of maternal and infant factors to infant responding to the Still Face paradigm:A longitudinal study. Infant Behavior and Development, 36 (3), pp. 319-328.

Halligan, S. L., Cooper, P. J., Fearon, P., Wheeler, S. L., Crosby, M. and Murray, L., 2013. The longitudinal development of emotion regulation capacities in children at risk for externalizing disorders. Development and Psychopathology, 25 (2), pp. 391-406.

Sheridan, A., Murray, L., Cooper, P. J., Evangeli, M., Byram, V. and Halligan, S. L., 2013. A longitudinal study of child sleep in high and low risk families:Relationship to early maternal settling strategies and child psychological functioning. Sleep Medicine, 14 (3), pp. 266-273.

Freeman, K., Hadwin, J. A. and Halligan, S. L., 2011. An experimental investigation of peer influences on adolescent hostile attributions. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 40 (6), pp. 897-903.

Murray, L., Arteche, A., Fearon, P., Halligan, S. L., Goodyer, I. and Cooper, P., 2011. Maternal postnatal depression and the development of depression in offspring up to 16 years of age. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 50 (5), pp. 460-470.

Murray, L., Arteche, A., Fearon, P., Halligan, S. L., Croudace, T. and Cooper, P., 2010. The effects of maternal postnatal depression and child sex on academic performance at age 16 years: a developmental approach. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 51 (10), pp. 1150-1159.

Halligan, S. L. and Philips, K. J., 2010. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Peer group similarities in adolescent hostile attribution tendencies. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 46 (5), pp. 1385-1388.

Murray, L., Halligan, S. L., Goodyer, I. and Herbert, J., 2010. Disturbances in early parenting of depressed mothers and cortisol secretion in offspring: a preliminary study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 122 (3), pp. 218-223.

Cronin, A., Halligan, S. L. and Murray, L., 2008. Maternal psychosocial adversity and the longitudinal development of infant sleep. Infancy, 13 (5), pp. 469-495.

Halligan, S. L., Cooper, P. J., Healy, S. J. and Murray, L., 2007. The attribution of hostile intent in mothers, fathers and their children. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 35 (4), pp. 594-604.

Halligan, S. L., Herbert, J., Goodyer, I. and Murray, L., 2007. Disturbances in morning cortisol secretion in association with maternal postnatal depression predict subsequent depressive symptomatology in adolescents. Biological Psychiatry, 62 (1), pp. 40-46.

Halligan, S. L., Murray, L., Martins, C. and Cooper, P. J., 2007. Maternal depression and psychiatric outcomes in adolescent offspring:a 13-year longitudinal study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 97 (1-3), pp. 145-154.

Michael, T., Halligan, S. L., Clark, D. M. and Ehlers, A., 2007. Rumination in posttraumatic stress disorder. Depression and Anxiety, 24 (5), pp. 307-317.

Halligan, S. L., Michael, T., Wilhelm, F. H., Clark, D. M. and Ehlers, A., 2006. Reduced heart rate responding to trauma reliving in trauma survivors with PTSD:correlates and consequences. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 19 (5), pp. 721-734.

Murray, L., Halligan, S. L., Adams, G., Patterson, P. and Goodyer, I. M., 2006. Socioemotional development in adolescents at risk for depression:the role of maternal depression and attachment style. Development and Psychopathology, 18 (02), pp. 489-516.

Michael, T., Ehlers, A., Halligan, S. L. and Clark, D. M., 2005. Unwanted memories of assault: what intrusion characteristics are associated with PTSD? Behaviour Research and Therapy, 43 (5), pp. 613-628.

Michael, T., Ehlers, A. and Halligan, S. L., 2005. Enhanced priming for trauma-related material in posttraumatic stress disorder. Emotion, 5 (1), pp. 103-112.

Yehuda, R., Golier, J. A., Halligan, S. L., Meaney, M. and Bierer, L. M., 2004. The ACTH response to dexamethasone in PTSD. American Journal of Psychiatry, 161 (8), pp. 1397-1403.

Yehuda, R., Halligan, S. L., Golier, J. A., Grossman, R. and Bierer, L. M., 2004. Effects of trauma exposure on the cortisol response to dexamethasone administration in PTSD and major depressive disorder. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 29 (3), pp. 389-404.

Halligan, S. L., Herbert, J., Goodyer, I. M. and Murray, L., 2004. Exposure to postnatal depression predicts elevated cortisol in adolescent offspring. Biological Psychiatry, 55 (4), pp. 376-381.

Yehuda, R., Golier, J. A., Halligan, S. L. and Harvey, P. D., 2004. Learning and memory in Holocaust survivors with posttraumatic stress disorder. Biological Psychiatry, 55 (3), pp. 291-295.

Spertus, I. L., Yehuda, R., Wong, C. M., Halligan, S. and Seremetis, S. V., 2003. Childhood emotional abuse and neglect as predictors of psychological and physical symptoms in women presenting to a primary care practice. Child Abuse and Neglect, 27 (11), pp. 1247-1258.

Yehuda, R., Halligan, S. L., Yang, R. K., Guo, L. S., Makotkine, I., Singh, B. and Pickholtz, D., 2003. Relationship between 24-hour urinary-free cortisol excretion and salivary cortisol levels sampled from awakening to bedtime in healthy subjects. Life Sciences, 73 (3), pp. 349-358.

Halligan, S. L., Michael, T., Clark, D. M. and Ehlers, A., 2003. Posttraumatic stress disorder following assault:the role of cognitive processing, trauma memory, and appraisals. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 71 (3), pp. 419-431.

Yehuda, R., Halligan, S. L., Grossman, R., A. Golier, J. and Wong, C., 2002. The cortisol and glucocorticoid receptor response to low dose dexamethasone administration in aging combat veterans and holocaust survivors with and without posttraumatic stress disorder. Biological Psychiatry, 52 (5), pp. 393-403.

Halligan, S. L., Clark, D. M. and Ehlers, A., 2002. Cognitive processing, memory, and the development of PTSD symptoms:two experimental analogue studies. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 33 (2), pp. 73-89.

Yehuda, R., Halligan, S. L. and Bierer, L. M., 2002. Cortisol levels in adult offspring of Holocaust survivors:relation to PTSD symptom severity in the parent and child. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 27 (1-2), pp. 171-180.

Halligan, S. L. and Yehuda, R., 2002. Assessing dissociation as a risk factor for PTSD:a study of the adult offspring of Holocaust survivors. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 190 (7), pp. 429-436.

Yehuda, R., Halligan, S. L. and Bierer, L. M., 2001. Relationship of parental trauma exposure and PTSD to PTSD, depressive and anxiety disorders in offspring. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 35 (5), pp. 261-270.

Yehuda, R., Halligan, S. L. and Grossman, R., 2001. Childhood trauma and risk for PTSD:relationship to intergenerational effects of trauma, parental PTSD and cortisol excretion. Development and Psychopathology, 13 (3), pp. 733-753.

Halligan, S. L. and Yehuda, R., 2001. Cognitive and biologic components involved in the development of posttraumatic stress disorder. The Economics of Neuroscience, 3, pp. 51-58.

Halligan, S. L. and Yehuda, R., 2000. Risk factors for PTSD. PTSD Research Quarterly, 11 (3), pp. 1-3.

Westbrook, R. F., Duffield, T. Q., Good, A. J., Halligan, S., Seth, A. K. and Swinburne, A. L., 1995. Extinction of within-event learning is contextually controlled and subject to renewal. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology Section B: Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 48 (4), pp. 357-375.

This list was generated on Mon Oct 16 13:08:54 2017 IST.

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