Associate Professor Neil Thomas
- School of Health Sciences
- Centre for Mental Health
- Department of Psychological Sciences
- ATC921 Hawthorn campus
- ORCID profile
Associate Professor Neil Thomas is a research leader in the Centre for Mental Health, Director of the National eTherapy Centre, Director of the Voices Clinic, and Honorary Consultant Clinical Psychologist with Alfred Health.
Neil's work aims to empower people to improve mental health. He and his research lab, Periscope, conduct research spanning psychological therapies, digital interventions, mental health service delivery, and the psychological processes involved in mental health. His psychological intervention research has included cognitive behavioural, third wave and trauma-focused therapies, as well as peer support. Increasingly his treatment research incorporates digital technologies, including telehealth, mobile devices, online self-management programs, and virtual reality.
Neil heads the National eTherapy Centre at Swinburne, which provides self-guided and therapist-supported cognitive behavioural therapy programs to adults across Australia with anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. The self-management website Mental Health Online is accessed by 14,000 new registered users per year, as well as providing 25 training placements per year to postgraduate clinical psychology students in blended models of therapy using digital technology. In parallel, Neil currently leads a $1.8m National Health and Medical Research Council clinical trial of a telehealth delivered intervention examining the use of computer-generated avatars to support therapy delivery.
Among clinical populations, Neil is particularly recognised internationally for his work developing interventions for people with severe and complex mental health problems, and he is one of the world’s most published researchers on persisting experiences of hearing voices (auditory hallucinations): an intrusive and highly distressing experience in a range of populations. His pioneering Voices Clinic, established over 15 years ago, provides specialist treatment to people nationwide.
Neil teaches on the postgraduate clinical psychology program, and supervises Honours, MPsych and PhD students. Research students will be able to develop the methodological skills including quantitative and experimental psychological methods, treatment trialing methods, qualitative methods, ecological momentary assessment, codesign/coproduction approaches, and literature synthesis methods.
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
1. AMETHYST Trial: Exceptional opportunity for 2 PhD students to work on an NHMRC-funded nationwide clinical trial of avatar-supported therapy for auditory hallucinations being conducted from our pioneering specialist Voices Clinic. One to focus on delivery to people with complex trauma, and one on measurement of in-session emotional change including psychophysiological measurement.
2. Ecological momentary assessment and intervention: This research program involves understanding how our mental state is impacted by environment and activity on a day-to-day basis, how we can self-manage mental health in the course of daily life, and the role of smartphones and wearable tech in supporting this. International collaboration opportunities.
3. Self-management for persisting mental health problems: People with complex mental health problems live with multiple needs. Substantial impacts are possible from modular approaches that help people to develop skills in particular areas. Work together on developing and trialling online interventions that empower people with skills to overcome key psychological processes that interfere with recovery.
4. Virtual reality and mental health: We are conducting a range of research projects using virtual reality to support mental health interventions, including using virtual environments to learn mindfulness, and using virtual world environments for intervention delivery.
Applying: I supervise students on both research-based PhDs and the integrated PhD in Clinical Psychology, which combines research with clinical training. Please email me including a copy of your CV and academic transcript if you would like to think about a project, and feel free to approach me to consider clinically-relevant projects not included above.
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. Masters projects are also available on an ongoing basis within the cardiac arrest research program. Contact me about possible projects when you have a place on the course.
Available to supervise honours students.
Honours topics and outlines
Clinical and personal recovery in people with psychosis: This project will involve analysing existing data on the relationships between symptoms, personal recovery and quality of life in a sample of people with severe mental health problems.
Interacting with auditory hallucinations: This project involves analysing existing data on patterns of how people interact with auditory verbal hallucinations (hearing voices), and how this relates to adaptation to the experience.
Fields of Research
- Clinical Psychology - 520302
- Mental Health Services - 420313
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
- 2022: Avatar-mediated therapy for hallucinations: superiority trial (AMETHYST) *; Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies Grants
- 2022: Technology and Dementia Care ? A Conceptualisation of Digital Twins for Facilitating Better Dementia Prediction, Prevention and Care. *; Barbara Dicker Brain Science grant
- 2019: Production, Delivery, and Evaluation of a Health Literacy Approach and Materials (RFP) *; Mental Health Commission of NSW
- 2017: A longitudinal examination of the phenomenology of auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs) in mood disorders *; Barbara Dicker Brain Science grant
- 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: Identity in recovery from persisting mental health problems: Understanding a key therapeutic target *; Barbara Dicker Brain Science grant
- 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: 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: 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
- 2023-03-05: Interview on online therapy - ABC
- 2022-12-13: Can self-help mental health therapy be as good as seeing a psychologist - ABC
- 2022-05-28: 3D animation software used in video games and movies helping to treat schizophrenia patients - Daily Telegraph
- 2022-05-28: I am the terrifying voice in your head - Courier Mail
- 2022-05-28: Treatment trial on way: schizophrenics to meet voices - Herald Sun
- 2022-05-28: Virtual reality used to bring voice in schizophrenia patients head to life - The Advertiser
- 2020-07-20: Interview for Health Report - ABC Radio National
- 2020-03-30: Interview for Hack - ABC Triple J