Profile image of Dr Karen Kirby

Dr Karen Kirby

Senior Lecturer

Profile image of Dr Karen Kirby


Psychology Research


Room H245 Cromore Road Coleraine Co. Londonderry BT52 1SA



Dr Karen Kirby (PhD, MSc, BSc, C.Psychol, AfBPS, SFHEA) has been employed by Ulster University as Lecturer of Counselling Psychology since 2004.

Prior to this, she worked as a Counselling Psychologist, and in her very early career as a Registered Adult Nurse.

Dr Kirby’s current teaching disciplines are co-ordinating Counselling Psychology (at undergraduate level), Psychological therapies including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, and Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health (both at MSc level). Dr Kirby also supports Health Psychology as a module tutor (at undergraduate level).

She is a full member of the Psychology Research Institute, and specialises in three key research areas.

The first focuses on child, adolescent and family mental health, monitoring the local prevalence rates of common mental health issues facing young people today, such as self-harm, anxiety, and cyberbullying etc, whilst also determining the various psychosocial predictors of these growing issues. Dr Kirby also engages in piloting and evaluating preventative mental health approaches within the  Northern Ireland school curriculum, supporting the development of positive mental health and coping skills in young people.

The second research area relates to evaluating the effectiveness of Low Intensity CBT, delivered by Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (PWP’s). She is currently evaluating a large region wide, multi-site study on the use of this approach in treating mild/moderate mental health problems at the primary/community care level; whilst assessing the utility of this approach for other conditions such as medically unexplained symptoms etc.  

The third research area relates to chronic disease prevention, in particular Type 2 Diabetes/Stroke and understanding psychosocial influences, which was also the topic of her PhD (completed in 2013).

Dr Kirby is also a practicing Counselling and Health Psychologist, registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), and also 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), specialising in chronic disease, in particular providing psychological interventions to people with Diabetes Mellitus (Types 1 & 2).

She 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, associated with the Association of Family Therapy.