PhD Studentship in Psychology Parental factors in relation to child psychological adjustment following trauma

Supervisors:  Dr Cathy Creswell/Prof Lynne Murray (University of Reading), and Dr Sarah Halligan (external, University of Bath)

Project Overview:  We are seeking an outstanding, ambitious PhD student to work on a project examining parental influences on child psychological adjustment following trauma, with a particular focus on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Many children experience symptoms of PTSD following exposure to a traumatic event, yet relatively few will be referred for treatment. Consequently, in the months following trauma their parents are likely to be a primary source of support. Despite this, relatively little is known about the role that parents may play in providing this support and facilitating good psychological adjustment in their child.

The studentship will involve an initial exploration of ways in which parents respond to their child following exposure to trauma. This initial phase will be guided by theoretical models of PTSD, which identify particular disturbances in trauma memory, appraisals and behaviour that are key to the development of this disorder (Ehlers and Clark, 2000); but will also be informed by parental descriptions of their experiences and the strategies that they have implemented to support their child. Based on this, the student will develop measures to assess the range of parental responses reported, and will then use longitudinal methodology to examine inter-relations between parental behaviour and child adjustment following child trauma exposure. The final phase of the project will involve the development and piloting of guidelines for parents regarding ways in which they can support their child following trauma, informed by the research findings.

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The project will form part of a larger ESRC funded study based at the University of Bath, and the student may opt to spend a proportion of their research time located in Bath. 

The candidate must be willing and able to undertake travel to research participants at various locations within Southern England 

Eligibility:  Applicants should hold or expect to gain a minimum of a 2:1 Bachelor’s Degree in psychology or a related discipline. Due to restrictions on the funding this studentship is only open to candidates from the UK/EU. Computer literacy and experience in working with SPSS are all essential. Previous experience in working with children and/or conducting psychology research is desirable. A Master’s degree in Psychology is advantageous, but not essential.

Funding Details:  The studentship is funded by the ESRC for a period of 3-years, and includes payment of UK/EU level tuition fees and a maintenance allowance of £13,500 per annum. A start date of October 2013 is preferred but a Jan 2014 will also be considered.

How to apply:  To apply for this studentship please submit an application for a ‘PhD in Psychology’ to the University, using the title of the project as the title of your research proposal – see

Important note – Please quote the reference GS-70 in the ‘Scholarships applied for’ box which appears within the Funding Section of your on-line application.

Application Deadline:  Friday 23rd August, with interviews to be held in early September

Further Enquiries:  Cathy Creswell (; or Sarah Halligan (

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