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Associate Professor Neil Thomas

Associate Professor of Psychology; Deputy Director, Centre for Mental Health

Biography

Neil Thomas is an Associate Professor in Swinburne’s Department of Psychological Sciences, Deputy Director of the Centre for Mental Health, Director of the National eTherapy Centre, 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.

The main focus of Dr Thomas’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 heads the PERISCOPE Lab, which conducts research on experiences of psychosis, along with the process of recovery and the development of interventions. Alongside directing the National eTherapy Centre, he also researches therapeutic uses of digital technology in healthcare including online health self-management courses, telehealth, mobile applications and the use of tablet computers by health workers.

Dr Thomas has established 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 received 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 Supervisor.

PhD topics and outlines

Digital interventions for severe mental illness: How can digital technology to help people with severe mental illness? Are self-management programs effective? Can we enhance forums with self-management resources? How can smartphones support face-to-face work? Do videos of peers discussing recovery enhance peer work? Some broad themes of our ongoing program of research with service partners across Melbourne. Many projects possible.

Digital self-management intervention development and trialling: There are a range of possible projects in the domain of developing and refining digital self-management interventions, including specific self-management programs, uses of virtual reality, and blended digital/face-to-face applications. Including work with National eTherapy Centre and/or industry partners. 

Hearing Voices: Targeted research and intervention for understanding and managing persisting hallucinations: What works in therapies for hearing voices/hallucinations? How do we target different processes? And different sensory modalities? What skills should people who aren’t expert therapists use? Some broad questions in our research program into persisting hallucinations, conducted via our specialist Voices Clinic, and with a strong network of international collaborators. Many projects possible.

MPsych projects: MPsych students conduct clinically-relevant projects embedded within my lab's research themes, often contributing an important piece of a broader research question. Contact me about possible projects.

Honours

Available to supervise honours students.

Honours topics and outlines

Does digital immersion help with mindfulness?: In this project you will be exploring how different technologies can help or hinder mindfulness practice. You will use virtual reality, video, and audio to investigate how the effects of a mindfulness practice differ across mediums.

Does personality predict adherence to mood monitoring on a smartphone?: Digital mental health interventions are effective, but adherence to usage for self-monitoring can be variable. The aim of this project is to explore the individual characteristics (e.g., personality traits) that predict adherence to a mood tracking app, MoodPrism, which allows individuals to track their mood over time.

How do virtual environments impact on mood?: Relaxation and positive affect can be trained within virtual reality. However our understanding of what virtual environment features influence mood is still emerging. This project will aim to explore the way mood can be altered with changes to virtual environments.

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, you can update your publications using our online form.

Recent research grants awarded

  • 2017: A longitudinal examination of the phenomenology of auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs) in mood disorders *; Barbara Dicker Brain Science grant
  • 2017: A peer-led education program for women who have experience of mental illness and trauma *; Quentin Hanich
  • 2017: Investigating therapeutic mechanisms of a new treatment for bipolar disorder *; Barbara Dicker Brain Science grant
  • 2017: Understanding the role of inhibitory dysfunction in affective network alteration and auditory verbal hallucinations in patients with bipolar disorder *; Barbara Dicker Brain Science grant
  • 2016: Digitally Assisted Peer Support (DAPS) for Young People with Emerging Mental Health Problems: A Novel Model of Technology-Enhanced Peer Work (Student award - Student: Claire E. Peck) *; Barbara Dicker Brain Science grant
  • 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: How do depressive symptoms influence characteristics (phenomenology) of auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs) in persons without a need for care? *; Barbara Dicker Brain Science grant
  • 2016: Improving quality of life in late stage bipolar disorder: RCT of a novel psychological treatment (ORBIT) *; NHMRC Project Grants
  • 2016: Investigating factors that influence the efficacy of cognitive remediation therapy inindividuals with schizophrenia *; Research Endowment Fund
  • 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


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