Profile image for Neil Thomas

Associate Professor Neil Thomas

Associate Professor of Psychology

Biography

Neil Thomas is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences, Director of the eTherapy Research Unit, and Honorary Consultant Clinical Psychologist with Alfred Health.  He has particular interests in psychological models and interventions for severe mental health problems (e.g. psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder), in persisting auditory hallucinations or "hearing voices" as an experience, and in the therapeutic use of online, mobile and digital technology.  With a background working as a clinical psychologist in public mental health services, and in establishing specialist psychological therapy services for people who hear voices, Neil now works as a research-focused academic.  The main focus of Neil's research is in developing new therapeutic approaches to empower people who live with mental health problems to self-manage symptoms and have the best recovery possible.  He leads two main teams. 

PERISCOPE Lab. The PERISCOPE lab conducts research on experiences of Psychosis: What they are like to Experience, the process of Recovery, and the development of Interventions.  It has two component research themes. The first is on Targeted Research and Intervention to Understand and Manage Persisting Hallucinations, in particular the phenomenon of auditory verbal hallucinations, or hearing voices.  This program seeks to understand processes associated with voice hearing and develops and trials intervention methods through a specialist Voices Clinic at the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre. These include cognitive-behavioural interventions, acceptance and mindfulness based methods, peer-led interventions and mobile applications.  The second component research theme is on promoting mental health recovery in persons who experience long-term mental health problems. This includes processes involved in subjective experiences of recovery, such as identity change, and in methods of promoting recovery, such as helping people connect with, and learn from, others with similar experiences. The PERISCOPE team works closely with mental health consumers and services and collaborates closely with the Cognitive Neuropsychiatry Lab led by Professor Susan Rossell, and the BEAT (Bipolar Disorders) Lab led by Professor Greg Murray.  

eTherapy Research Unit.  The Brain and Psychological Sciences Centre eTherapy Reseach Unit researches therapeutic uses of digital technology in healthcare. This includes online health self-management courses, telehealth, mobile applications and the use of tablet computers by health workers. As part of this, Neil leads the National eTherapy Centre, which runs the Commonwealth Government funded Mental Health Online, a site providing online self-guided and therapist-assisted cognitive behavioural therapy for common mental health problems.  NeTC is examining the use of video consultation including the potential for MHO's self-guided programs to blend with online video consultations.  Intersecting with PERISCOPE, the eTherapy Research Unit also conducts two major research programs applying digital mental health to people with serious mental health problems. The Self-Management and Recovery Technology (SMART) research program is a $2 million initiative funded by the Victorian Department of Health Mental Illness Research Fund. SMART involves developing and trialling an online portal for use across mental health services to promote personal recovery and self-management by learning from peers' own experiences of recovery.  The Online Recovery-focused Bipolar Individual Therapy (ORBIT), led by collaborator Greg Murray, is an international multicentre trial of a recovery-oriented intervention for people with recurrent bipolar disorder.

Neil has research collaborations with a number of health services in Victoria including Alfred Health, Austin Health, Melbourne Health, St Vincent's Health, Headspace, Mind Australia, Neami National, Uniting Care, and Wellways Australia (Mental Illness Fellowship).  He has funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Government Department of Health, Australian Government Department of Veterans' Affairs, Victorian State Government Department of Health and Human Services, and VicHealth.

Research interests

Clinical Psychology; Mental Health

PhD candidate and honours supervision

Higher degrees by research

Accredited to supervise Masters & Doctoral students as Principal Coordinating Supervisor.

PhD topics and outlines

Developing a peer-delivered intervention for complex trauma: This is a forthcoming industry-funded PhD Scholarship. Please contact me for further details.

Honours

Available to supervise honours students.

Honours topics and outlines

Investigation of consumer attitudes towards etherapists represented as avatars: An avatar is a digital character that one can create and customise to represent oneself in a virtual environment. An emerging area of internet-delivered psychological treatment is the use of avatars to facilitate online communication between clients and etherapists. This project will investigate how varying representations of etherapist avatars influence client attitudes towards therapists.

Fields of Research

  • Health, Clinical And Counselling Psychology - 170106

Teaching areas

Clinical Psychology

Publications

Also published as: Thomas, Neil; Thomas, N.
This publication listing is provided by Swinburne Research Bank. If you are the owner of this profile, contact us to update.

Recent research grants awarded

  • 2016: Evaluating a Novel Smartphone-Assisted Coping Strategy Intervention for Distressing Voices The SAVVy Study *; Barbara Dicker Brain Science grant
  • 2016: Evaluation of e-counselling effectiveness in the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service *; Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service
  • 2016: Improving quality of life in late stage bipolar disorder: RCT of a novel psychological treatment *; NHMRC Project Grants
  • 2016: Online, mindfulness-based intervention for bipolar disorder: Does anyone not benefit *; Barbara Dicker Brain Science grant
  • 2016: Understanding trauma-related auditory verbal hallucinations: phenomenology and predictors *; Barbara Dicker Brain Science grant
  • 2015: A pilot group intervention targeting loneliness in young people diagnosed with depression *; Barbara Dicker Brain Science grant
  • 2015: Identity in recovery from persisting mental health problems: Understanding a key therapeutic target *; Barbara Dicker Brain Science grant
  • 2015: Peer Modelling: Drinking Culture Change Intervention - Innovation Challenge *; VicHealth
  • 2015: The Impact of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention for Auditory Hallucinations on Localised Brain Activity, Attention and Subjective Experience *; Barbara Dicker Brain Science grant
  • 2014: A pilot online intervention aimed at reducing loneliness for people diagnosed with mental disorders *; Barbara Dicker Brain Science grant
  • 2014: An examination of the characteristics (phenomenology) of auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs) in relation to mood in bipolar disorder (BD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) *; Barbara Dicker Brain Science grant
  • 2014: Investigating factors that influence the efficacy of cognitive remediation therapy in people with schizophrenia. *; Barbara Dicker Brain Science grant
  • 2014: Using the latest neuroimaging and genetic advances to improve our understanding of hearing voices *; NHMRC Project Grants
  • 2013: Use of online technology to promote self-management and recovery in people with psychosis (MIRF) *; Victorian Mental Illness Research Fund
  • 2012: Using MEG to better understand the temporal characteristics of auditory hallucinations *; Barbara Dicker Brain Science grant

* Chief Investigator


Recent media

There are no media items to display