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


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