Sarah Fishburn


Accepting PhD Students


Research output per year

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Personal profile

Academic Biography

I am a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. I joined Teesside University in December 2016 as a Senior Lecturer in Mental Health, after 12 years of working within a range of clinical roles with individuals with a vast array of mental health difficulties. My principle teaching and course responsbilities within the University are on postgraduate programmes and continued professional develoment courses, including: PgC/UCAPD Low Intensity Assessment and Intervention Skills for Psychological Wellbeing Practice, UCPPD Approaches to Long Term Conditions for Psychological Wellbeing Practice, UCPPD Supervision for Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners, UCAPD Dialectic Behavior Therapy, & UCPD Integrated Cognitive Behavioral Theory and Interventions in Mental Health Practice. 

My academic background is within Psychology, with a specific interest in Developmental Psychology/Psychopathology, mental health, and low intensity CBT interventions. I completed my degree in Psychology and Masters degree in Developmental Psychopathology at the University of Durham, whilst also working within the field of mental health. I have also completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Primary Mental Health Care at Teesside University, in order to pratice as an accredited PWP, before undertaking a PhD in Psychology at the University of York. Since commencing at Teesside, I have completed a PgC in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, and am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

I continue to work clinically as a Senior Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner within a forensic setting, alongside lecturing. 

Summary of Research Interests

My research interests are relatively diverse; my primary research interest is in the quality of the parent-child relationship, specifically parental mind-mindedness, and its role in predicting children's developmental outcomes, including children's social cognition. I am particularly interested in non-normative groups such as adoptive parents/foster carers, and families that differ from the typical 'nuclear' set-up.

I am also interested more broadly in mental health and wellbeing. I am involved in several streams of research in the field of forensic mental health. I am involved in the delivery of psychological interventions within 'hard to reach' groups, specifically offenders; I am interested in the impact and effectiveness of low intensity interventions within forensic settings, including factors influencing whether patients gain 'recovery' from their symptoms during treatment. This also includes evaluating patient narrative, via experience questionnaires, to inform service improvement and delivery. I am also part of ongoing research investigating inequalities experienced by individuals who experience mental illness, and may have experience of secure care settings. 

I am currently part of a research team at Teesside University who are responsible for evaluating the NHS 111 Mental Health Support Service, set up to reduce the demand on emergency services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, I am involved in research focussed on suicide prevention, and the co-production of evidence-based frameworks with those who have lived experience of suicidality. I am also interested in trainee PWP wellbeing, and investigating factors which may contribute to PWP burnout. 

Research Projects & External Funding

Starting 2021          Co-production of an Evidence-Based Framework and Related Guidance for Practitioners on Personalised Risk Management and Safety Planning for Adults Experiencing Suicidality

Funding Body: NIHR Applied Research Collaboration North East & North Cumbria 

The aim of the project is to co-produce (with people with lived experience of suicidality) an evidence-based framework for supporting personalised risk management and safety planning, which is sensitive to the needs, preferences and values of people experiencing suicidality.


2020               Self-Harm and Suicide Prevention Training – Quality Assurance Framework

 Funding Body: North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System (NENC ICS), Suicide Prevention Network (SPN)

The North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System (NENC ICS), Suicide Prevention Network (SPN) aim to develop a consistent, multi-agency approach to system wide learning and development, based on Health Education England (HEE) competency frameworks for self-harm and suicide prevention.

The first aim of this funded project was to undertake a scoping review is to identify and collate the available evidence that highlights the best practice in the design and delivery of education and training for people who require self-harm and suicide prevention training. My role within the scoping review has been to double-sift a proportion of the of titles and abstracts, along with full paper sifts, data extraction, analysis and contributing to the write-up of the report.

2020              NHS 111 Mental Health Support Team Service Evaluation

Funding Body: Integrated Care System North East & North Cumbria/Cumbria, Mental Health (MH) workstream

I was part of the academic research team responsible for evaluating the NHS 111 Mental Health Support Team Service, from data provided by Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and the North East Ambulance Service. The service was set up rapidly to respond to the COVID-19 situation, with the purpose of reducing demand on the emergency care system by providing an accessible mental health and wellbeing support service. I was responsible for reviewing and analysing data, and contributing to the final report, outlining the evaluation findings and themes to inform recommendations.

2020              Forensic Inequalities Project

Funding Body: IMPACT Provider Collaborative

The project involves bringing together research around inequalities, to better understand the challenges faced by individuals who experience mental illness, may have experienced secure care, and those who experience other challenges due to inequalities. The project aims to collect data from patients, carers, peer workers and professionals on issues such as: how inequality is understood, described and experienced; any specific trends or common themes experienced by marginalised groups or communities; highlight any gaps and unmet needs in current provision and pathways to those experiencing inequalities; how the lived experience of service users can be used to further develop and shape services. I was recruited to the project to consult and advise on project creation, data collection, and data analysis.

2019 - Present       University Mental Health Charter; Student Minds 

Funding Body: UPP Foundation and the Office for Students

Recruited as part of an academic research team to collect and analyse the evidence that informed the University Mental Health Charter. Data anaysis still ongoing. 

2019 - Present       Primary Mental Health Care within the North East Prisons: Evidencing 'Recovery' and Patient Satisfaction within a Prison-Based Setting 

Working in collaboration with Rethink Mental Illness to collate practice-based recovery outcomes of their primary mental health care provision, aloing with evaluating patient satisfaction. 

2013 - Present       Mind-Mindedness in Research and Practice

Funding Body: Economic and Social Research Council 

Project creation and management as part of working towards a PhD. which was completed in 2017; ongoing work to complete several papers for publication. I continue to be a member of the Meins Lab group at the University of York. 

2011 - 2013           Tees Valley Baby Study

Funding Body: Economic and Social Research Council 

Volunteer research assistant; assisted with data collection and analysis at the Wolfson Research Institute. 

External Roles and Professional Activities

British Psychological Society

  • Chartered Psychologist (244957)
  • Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society
  • Accredited Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner 

Higher Education Academy:

  • Fellow (PR156431) 

Learning and Teaching Interests and Activities

  • Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • Assessment and Treatment of Common Mental Health Problems
  • Psychological Therapies
  • Clinical and Case Management Supervision
  • Low Intensity Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Dialectic Behaviour Therapy
  • Delivering Psychological Therapies to 'Hard to Reach' Groups
  • Forensic Mental Health

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of York

Sep 2013Jun 2017

Master, Durham University

Oct 2010Sep 2011

Bachelor, Durham University

Oct 2005Jun 2008

External positions

Senior Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner , Rethink Mental Illness

Mar 2015 → …

Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner , Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust

Jan 2013Mar 2015

Fellow , Higher Education Academy

Chartered Psychologist , The British Psychological Society


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