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Having gained a thorough training in cognitive-experimental research on anxiety during her PhD in Cambridge, Dr Colette Hirsch focused on developing her cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) skills as part of her D.Clin.Psych. at King’s College London (KCL) and CBT training at The Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research, USA. Colette worked as a clinical psychologist in local and national CBT services, before returning to KCL to focus on clinical anxiety research during her fellowship. Colette was appointed as a Senior Lecture in the Psychology Department and is currently a Reader in Cognitive Clinical Psychology and Consultant Clinical Psychologist leading the Generalised Anxiety Disorder Service at the Centre for Anxiety Disorders and Trauma, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.   

Colette's research continues to focus on cognitive processes that maintain anxiety, depression and distress, both within clinical and sub-clinical populations, as well as at the interface between physical and mental health.  

Research Interests: 

  • Cognitive processes such as attentional control, attentional bias, verbal processing and imagery processes that maintain emotional disorders  
  • Interpretation bias and its transdiagnostic role in maintaining repetitive negative thinking 
  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder 
  • Repetitive negative thinking (RNT) such as worry and rumination 
  • Cognitive processes and RNT that contribute to perinatal mental health 
  • Cognitive processes that maintain psychological distress in physical health conditions (e.g. MS; Parkinson’s; Cancer survivorship) 
  • Social anxiety in Autism Spectrum Disorders 
  • Cognitive processes in Eating Disorders 
  • Clinical competence and clinical outcome of high-intensity IAPT trainees and at follow up in IAPT services 

Expertise and Public Engagement:

Colette has also worked on a King’s Cultural Institute Award with theatre makers on a production ‘Die or Run: Anxiety, Stigma & Policy’ for KCL students (October 2017) and the community (June, 2018; April 2019; May 2019). She was an anxiety consultant on ‘Wake’, a new play by Alex Froom (September 2017), and on a production of ‘Bellville’ at the Donmar Warehouse (December 2017). Colette helped the Mental Health Foundation develop theiShe is also part of the Science Gallery (KCL)’s curatorial advisory group ‘On Edge: Living in the Age of Anxiety’ season Autumn 2019. 

Through other public engagement events Colette has spoken about how research helps us develop and refine psychological interventions (e.g. ‘Department for Culture, Media and Sport’ in Whitehall on World Mental Health Day, October 2018; ‘Cheltenham Science Festival’ June 2018; ‘The Age of Anxiety’ March 2016). She have also contributed to panel discussions on mental health. For example, at a ‘Sad Girls’ London event in January 2018 which was attended by girls and young women who suffer from anxiety and depression.