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Dr. Alice McEleney

Biography

Dr Alice McEleney is a lecturer and researcher in psychology and a psychotherapist. Her research interests focus on mental health, wellbeing, resilience, and psychological growth. Alice completed her BA (First Class Honours) and PhD in psychology and was a Scholar at Trinity College Dublin. She carried out postdoctoral research in cognitive neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon University and the National Institutes of Health in the USA. She has worked as an international instructor in Thailand and Japan, and as a lecturer in psychology at Northumbria University, Mary Immaculate College and The Open University. Alice also practiced as a psychotherapist for several years, specialising in integrative approaches to trauma recovery, before joining the UL Department of Psychology in 2021.

Research Interests

My goal is to contribute to improving psychological wellbeing by increasing understanding of the processes involved in mental health, resilience, recovery and psychological growth. My experience as a psychotherapist specialising in trauma recovery has fuelled my interest in the psychological effects of adverse life events and circumstances. I am especially interested in how people maintain good mental health and wellbeing in the face of adversity; how people recover from potentially traumatic experiences; and the positive psychological changes that can sometimes occur as a result of life challenges. A specific focus of my research is how mental health and resilience are affected by socio-emotional factors, such as social support, attachment bonds in close relationships, and interpersonal emotion regulation processes. I am interested in these factors in the contexts of both personal relationships and processes of change in psychotherapy.

One current research project focuses on the relationship between childhood adversity and mental health in adolescence and adulthood. Most adolescents and adults have experienced at least one type of childhood adversity, such as loss, illness, or violence. High exposure to adverse events is a risk factor for the development of mental illness and is associated with poor health outcomes and decreased life satisfaction. However, prospective studies show that most people confronted with significant stressors are resilient, that is, they show either no psychological or functional impairment, or mild impairment followed by a quick recovery. This project aims to identify the factors and processes that affect the risk of mental illness following childhood adversity in a national longitudinal cohort study. The findings will contribute to theories of resilience and to the development of interventions to prevent stress-related disorders and improve mental health and well-being.

Teaching Interests

I am especially interested in teaching related to the psychology of mental health and wellbeing. I currently teach a module on psychotherapeutic assessment and intervention on the MSc in Psychological Science at UL. I also teach part of a module on developmental psychopathology to final year undergraduates, and I teach the psychology of personality to first year undergraduates. I supervise final year and postgraduate research projects on mental health, wellbeing, resilience and psychological growth, using both quantitative and qualitative methods.

I have extensive experience of teaching most areas of psychology. Until June 2021, I was an Associate Lecturer in Psychology at The Open University, where I taught a 30-credit course on the psychology of mental health. I also taught across the core domains of research methods, cognitive psychology, individual differences, social, biological, and developmental psychology. I previously held full time lecturing positions in psychology at Mary Immaculate College and Northumbria University. I led modules in research methods (at postgraduate level), cognitive psychology, social psychology, and historical and conceptual perspectives in psychology, and I taught biological psychology. I have consistently received positive evaluations of my teaching and I have received an award for excellence and innovation in teaching practice. I also have extensive experience of supervising student research. At the Open University, I supervised 15 final year projects each year and at Mary Immaculate College and Northumbria University, I supervised seven to ten final year projects each year. I was also the coordinator of the final year project in psychology at Mary Immaculate College.

Professional Activities

Association

  • Faculty Member, The Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science
  • Chartered Psychologist, The Psychological Society of Ireland
  • Accredited Member, The Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy

Publications

Book Chapters

2000

Counterfactual thinking about actions
Byrne, R.M.J. and McEleney, A.
(2000) Counterfactual thinking about actions
In Human reasoning: Logical and psychological perspectives; Cherubini, P.(Ed.) Padua, Italy : University of Padua pp. 283-291

1999

Counterfactual thinking and causal reasoning
McEleney, A. and Byrne, R.M.J.
(1999) Counterfactual thinking and causal reasoning
In Mental models in reasoning; García Madruga, J., Carriedo, N. and González-Labra, M.J.(Ed.) Madrid : UNED pp. 301-314

Peer Reviewed Journals

2006

An fMRI study of conditional reasoning
McEleney, A., Newman, S.D., Keller, T.A. and Just, M.A.
(2006) An fMRI study of conditional reasoning
In Journal Of Psychophysiology; pp. 328-328

2006

Spontaneous counterfactual thoughts and causal explanations
McEleney, A. and Byrne, R.M.J.
(2006) Spontaneous counterfactual thoughts and causal explanations
In Thinking & Reasoning; pp. 235-255
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13546780500317897

2004

Imagery in sentence comprehension: An fMRI study
Just, M.A., Newman, S.D., Keller, T.A., McEleney, A. and Carpenter, P.A.
(2004) Imagery in sentence comprehension: An fMRI study
In Neuroimage; pp. 112-124
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2003.08.042

2002

Strategies in deductive reasoning: A functional magnetic resonance imaging study
McEleney, A., Grafman, J., & Goel, V.
(2002) Strategies in deductive reasoning: A functional magnetic resonance imaging study
In Journal Of Cognitive Neuroscience; pp. S157-S157

2000

Counterfactual thinking about actions and failures to act.
Byrne, R.M.J. and McEleney, A.
(2000) Counterfactual thinking about actions and failures to act.
In Journal Of Experimental Psychology-Learning Memory And Cognition; pp. 1318-1331
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-7393.26.5.1318

Conference Publications

2005

27th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
McEleney, A.
(2005) 27th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
Bara, B.G., Barsalou, L. and Bucciarelli, M.(Ed.) pp. 1455-1460 Stresa, Italy

1999

European Conference on Cognitive Science '99
McEleney, A. and Byrne, R.M.J.
(1999) European Conference on Cognitive Science '99
Bagnara, S.(Ed.) pp. 199-205 Siena, Italy

1998

Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science '98
McEleney, A. and Byrne, R.M.J.
(1998) Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science '98
Dunnion, J., O'Hare, G., O' Nuallain, S., Reilly, R. and Smyth, B.(Ed.) pp. 205-210 Dublin, Ireland

1997

19th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
Byrne, R.M.J. and McEleney, A.
(1997) 19th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
Shafto, M. and Langley, P.(Ed.) pp. 73-78 Stanford University, CA, USA