PhD Studentship in Psychology

University of Reading - Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences

Project title: Increasing Access to Psychological Treatments for Children with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Supervisors: Professor Cathy Creswell, Dr Brynjar Halldorsson

Project Overview:

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by obsessions – persistent intrusive unwanted thoughts, urges or impulses that provoke anxiety and distress – and compulsions – repetitive, stereotyped, intentional acts carried out to neutralize the distress associated with obsessions (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Between 1% and 4% of children and adolescents suffer from OCD, making it one of the most common psychiatric problems in this age group (Douglass et al., 1995; Heyman et al., 2003).

Furthermore, half of all affected people will have first experienced OCD by pre-adolescence (Geller et al., 1998). As well as disrupting children’s social, emotional and academic development, if left untreated, OCD typically runs a chronic course and is associated with adverse long-term outcomes, including mood disorders, reduced quality of life and impaired work and social functioning (Lack et al., 2009; Rapaport et al., 2005). The detrimental effects of OCD are not limited to the child, as parents of children with OCD also frequently report high degrees of distress and impairment in their own daily functioning (Lack et al., 2009; Piacentini et al., 2003; Storch et al., 2007).

The research project covered by this studentship aims to: 

  • Establish the psychological maintenance mechanisms that need to be incorporated in to a therapist guided parent-delivered Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) approach to childhood OCD 
  • Identify the experiences and needs of parents of children with OCD and the children themselves in order to ensure treatment is acceptable, engaging and meets the needs of families
  • Develop a therapist guided parent-delivered CBT approach for parents of children with OCD
  • Undertake a preliminary evaluation of the CBT programme.

 Eligibility and further information: 

Studentship award details: 

  • This studentship may be taken as either a 1+3 year award (a one-year MSc followed by a three-year PhD), or a +3 award (a three-year PhD) 
  • It may be taken full-time or part-time 
  • The studentship award covers your university fees, and provides you with a stipend of £14,553 per year. You will also be able to apply for small amounts of additional funding via the SeNSS Research Training Support Grant.

How to apply:

  • To apply for this studentship please submit an application for a PhD in Psychology at
  • Quote the reference ‘GS18-024 SeNSS Collaborative Project’ in the ‘Scholarships applied for’ box which appears within the Funding Section of your on-line application. When you are prompted to upload a research proposal, omit this step or upload a Word document reading only ‘GS18-024 SeNSS Collaborative Project’.

Application Deadline: 

  • 21 January 2017

Further Enquiries:

  • For enquiries related to the studentship topic, please email Dr Brynjar Halldorrson at 
  • For enquiries related to your eligibility for this studentship, and the application process, please email 
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South East England