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Associate Professor Neil Thomas

Deputy Director, Centre for Mental Health

Biography

Associate Professor Neil Thomas is Deputy Director of the Centre for Mental Health and its lead for treatment research. He is also Director of the National eTherapy Centre, Director of the Voices Clinic, and an Honorary Consultant Clinical Psychologist with Alfred Health.

Dr Thomas’s research aims to empower people who live with mental health problems to self-manage symptoms and have the best recovery possible. In pursuing this, his research spans psychological therapies, digital interventions, mental health service delivery, and psychological processes involved in mental health.


Dr Thomas’s research is informed by working closely with people with lived experience of mental health problems and with a number of mental health service partners. He is particularly known for his contributions to developing psychological approaches for severe and complex mental health problems (including syndromes such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder) and is one of the world’s most published researchers on treatments for persisting hallucinations (hearing voices) as an experience. Another major focus of his research is digital mental health, including the development of online self-management tools, and blending the use of mobile apps and tablet computers with traditional face-to-face service delivery.

As a member of the Department of Psychological Sciences, Dr Thomas teaches on the postgraduate clinical psychology program, and supervises Honours, MPsych and PhD students. Students join his lab, PERISCOPE, one of the main labs within the Centre for Mental Health, which has a focus on mental health treatment and service delivery.

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

Complex trauma: enhancing self-management: Developing effective ways to help people with complex post-traumatic stress disorder is a priority for our mental health service partners. A PhD project is available involving working in collaboration with a service partner to codevelop and research a program to help people self-manage distress.

Depression recovery and self-management: At the National eTherapy Centre we have developed a focused self-guided course for recovery from depression. This PhD is available to examine its use together with a mobile app to support implementation of skills in day-to-day life.

Hearing voices: developing an accessible therapy: In advancing the field of therapies for hearing voices/hallucinations we are pursuing 3 parallel targets, each with an associated PhD. This PhD focuses on increasing therapy access. It will involve conducting research on an online CBT-based self-management course that we have been developing in our Voices Clinic and with the National eTherapy Centre, which we will make available worldwide.

Hearing voices: improving practice across the workforce: In advancing the field of therapies for hearing voices/hallucinations we are pursuing 3 parallel targets, each with an associated PhD. This PhD focuses on enhancing practice among practitioners of all disciplines. Building on work with our international collaborators, it will involve codeveloping, trialling and researching an online learning program on how to work with people with hallucinations.

Hearing voices: increasing the potency of therapy: In advancing the field of therapies for hearing voices/hallucinations we are pursuing 3 parallel targets, each with an associated PhD. This PhD focuses on increasing therapy potency. Working with our specialist Voices Clinic and international collaborators, it will examine the roles of in-session exposure/practice in responding to voices, and using technology to recreate voices in-session.

Mental health recovery: positive change processes: Mental health service delivery has been almost exclusively focused on targeting symptoms, problems, maintaining mechanisms and relapse. A PhD is available studying psychological processes associated with recovery. This will involve modelling processes of recovery over time in a population of people with severe mental health problems.

Mindfulness skill development via virtual reality: At the National eTherapy Centre we have a research & development program underway on use of virtual reality to use a controlled immersive enrivonment to learn mindfulness skills for application in day-to-day life. A PhD is available with this program conducting a stream of interconnecting research. Co-supervised with Dr Liz Seabrook.

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

Experience sampling hallucinations in people with psychosis: This Hons project, suited to students interested in later clinical training, will involve working with our specialist Voices Clinic to conduct a project using smartphone-based monitoring to examine variation in hallucinations (hearing voices) over the course of a week of monitoring. It will identify patterns in when hallucinations occur relative to variables such as stress and activity levels.

VR mindfulness training research program: 1-2 Hons projects are available within the National eTherapy Centre research program on using immersive virtual reality to train present-moment awareness skills. Suited to students with an interest in psychological therapies, projects will use experimental methods to test the impacts of VR mindfulnes training in clinical and/or nonclinical populations.

Fields of Research

  • Health, Clinical And Counselling Psychology - 170106
  • Mental Health - 111714

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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