Dr Orla McDevitt-Petrovic

Lecturer in Psychology (Applied Psychology)

School of Psychology

Coleraine campus

Room H263,
Cromore Road,
Co. Londonderry,
BT52 1SA,

Psychology Research

Lecturer in Psychology (Applied Psychology)

Dr Orla McDevitt-Petrovic


Orla is a Lecturer in Applied Psychology at Ulster University, a British Psychological Society (BPS) accredited Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP) and clinical supervisor.  PWPs work with common mental difficulties including depression and anxiety, and use low intensity cognitive behavioural therapy (LICBT). At Ulster, Orla teaches on the final year of the BSc Hons Psychology programme and on the MSc Applied Psychology programme.

Orla has a BSc Hons degree in Psychology and MSc in Applied Psychology (Mental Health and Psychological Therapies) with BPS accreditation as a PWP. Orla completed her PhD at Ulster in 2019 and is also a fellow of the Higher Education Academy, completing her PgChep in Higher Education Practice in 2020.

Research Focus

  • Psychological wellbeing
  • Service improvement and access
  • Community wellbeing
  • Psychological interventions (including digital platforms) for depression and anxiety disorders.
  • Medically unexplained symptoms
  • Suicide bereavement

Research Interests

Orla is currently involved in a number of funded projects related to developing digital platforms for mental health in collaboration with Action Mental Health, and the evaluation of wellbeing projects in the community in collaboration with Action Mental Health. Details below:

  • YEW Project ( funded by The Community Foundation, MH Support Fund on behalf of the DoH). Total funding awarded to UU (£103, 490). Code 84348.
  • Knowledge Transfer Partnerships – Innovate UK – Collaboration between UU and Action MH. To develop a CREDIT (Counselling, Resilience Emotional Digital Innovation Transformation) digital platform offering accessible support services for companies supporting people with mental ill health requiring mental health interventions. This provides a USP for expanding business, provides economies of scale for service delivery and creates opportunities for profitability. Project Number: 10032542 KTP Reference: 13299 Total funding awarded to UU (£129172).
  • Project Ttle: Evaluating Taiko Drumming as a tool to improve mental health and wellbeing. Project ID: 476988
  • Project Title : Exploring how creative methods of ‘inner work’ can enhance the health locus of control - with Yellow Wood. Project ID: 8433

Orla is also a member of the Cystic Fibrosis Mental Health Working Research Group.. Orla has also carried out and published research relating to the prevalence of medically unexplained symptoms, and has recently completed a systematic review in this area which has been published as a book chapter. Orla is interested in qualitative research methods, and conducts research investigating the effectiveness of health services and the effects of suicide bereavement.

Research Awards

Orla has presented at several conferences and was awarded the NIBPS postgraduate prize in 2016 in relation to her work on suicide bereavement.


Orla teaches on the BSc Hons Psychology course. More specifically she takes several lectures on the final year Applied Psychology (Mental Health Practice) module . Orla mostly teaches on the MSc Applied Psychology course and is very involved in the training of PWPs. She co-ordinates the LICBT interventions module, and is also a clinical skills supervisor and placement tutor for PWP trainees. Orla contributes to several modules, PSY562, PSY866, PSY867, PSY871, PSY872, PSY873, PSY817, PSY819.

External examiner for PWP course at Uclan.

Research Supervision

Supervises undergraduate and postgraduate dissertation students. Has supervised and acted as advisor to PhD students.

Current PhD students

First supervisor for Oisin Harkin  commencing in Sept 2023 (An exploration of the human-digital interface in the application of LICBT in a primary care setting).

Recently Graduated PhD Students

On supervisory team for recent graduate Dr Ashling McCallion (Assessing and addressing psychosocial and physiological risk factors of Type 2 Diabetes, by combining a novel lifestyle modification programme with Low Intensity CBT)

Administrative Roles and Memberships

  • Fellow of the HEA
  • Recruitment co-ordinator for MSc Applied Psychology
  • UG ethics committee
  • Community Impact

Orla works very closely with a number of  local community organisations as a placement tutor and clinical skills supervisor for trainee PWPs, and also provides clinical case management supervision training to practitioner and service providers within community organisations each year.

She is involved in a number of funded community projects evaluating wellbeing programmes (as detailed above in research section). She has also collaborated with Developing Healthy Communities and the Public Health Agency in relation to increasing awareness about service access for minority communities.

Personal Information

I am huge fan of and season ticket holder at Derry City football club

I also love tennis, musical theatre and playing PlayStation to relax.

I am the mum of a neurodivergent child and passionate about advocating for the needs of the autistic/neurodivergent community.