Dr Karen Kirby

Senior Lecturer

School of Psychology

Coleraine campus

Room H245,
Cromore Road,
Co. Londonderry,
BT52 1SA,

Psychology Research

Senior Lecturer

Dr Karen Kirby


Dr Karen Kirby (PhD, MSc, BSc, C.Psychol, AfBPS, SFHEA) has been employed by Ulster University as a Senior Lecturer of Counselling Psychology since 2015, and Lecturer since 2004. Dr Kirby’s current teaching disciplines are Applied Psychology Practice, in particular Clinical and Counselling Psychology (at undergraduate level), Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Family Therapy, and Childhood Mental Health and Developmental Trauma (at MSc level). She is also involved in the BPS accredited training of Psychological Well-being Practitioners.

She is a full member of the Psychology Research Institute at Ulster and the Institute of Mental Health Sciences, specialising in three key research areas. The first focuses on child and adolescent mental health examining prevalence rates and the various psychosocial predictors of these growing issues.

Dr Kirby introduced and evaluated the 'Hopeful Minds programme' for children 8-14 years in NI Primary Schools; a universal school based preventative mental health and coping skills programme.The second research area relates to understanding the correlates of developmental trauma and adverse childhood experiences. She was part of a team who were the first to evaluate a whole school 'Trauma informed compassionate Schools' study, exploring the impact on staff and pupils, making recommendations to the Dept of Education.

The third research area relates to understanding the psychosocial influences of people with Pre-Diabetes (Impaired Glucose Tolerance). She has approx. 100 peer reviewed publications and conference proceedings and one book chapter (medically unexplained symptoms and LI-CBT), and has also been involved in research grant awards, worth of over 1.5 million in total ( Our Generation- Growing Up Better Together- Peace NI, and Global Challenge research funds to evaluate Hopeful Minds in Malaysia, and Innovation fund to develop a 'Chatbot' to support self-esteem and resilience in children via Reading Rooms).

Dr Kirby is also a Registered Practitioner Psychologist with Health Care Professions Council (HCPC), and a full chartered member of the British Psychological Society. In her previous professional clinical practice work, Dr Kirby worked in the Clinical Health Psychology department (Western Trust) and provided consultancy sessional work to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, and the Paediatric Psychology Service ( Western Trust).

Dr Kirby has also trained to intermediate level as a systemic family practitioner and is currently completing training in Schema Therapy for childhood trauma. She has a small private practice, seeing children and adults and provides clinical supervision to other practitioners.

She is the current Chair of the Northern Ireland Division of Counselling Psychology, NIBPS.