BiographyDr. Alice McEleney is a lecturer and researcher in clinical psychology and a psychotherapist. Her research and teaching interests focus on mental health, well-being, resilience, and psychological growth. Alice was a Scholar at Trinity College Dublin, where she completed her BA (first class honours) and PhD in psychology. She completed her professional training in psychotherapy with the Tivoli Institute. She carried out postdoctoral research at Carnegie Mellon University and the National Institutes of Health in the USA. She 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 is an experienced psychotherapist, specialising in psychological development and well-being in young adults, and recovery and psychological growth following trauma and adversity. She joined the Department of Psychology at UL in 2021.
Research InterestsMy goal is to contribute to improving psychological well-being by increasing understanding of the processes involved in mental health, resilience 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 well-being in the face of adversity; how people recover from potentially traumatic experiences; and the positive psychological changes that may 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, and interpersonal emotion regulation processes. I am interested in how these factors operate in the contexts of both personal relationships and processes of change in psychotherapy.
One current research project focuses on the role of close relationships in resilience to childhood adversity in young adults. Early adulthood is the most common period for the onset of emotional disorders. High exposure to childhood adversity, such as loss, illness, or violence, is a risk factor for the development of mental illness and is associated with poor health outcomes and decreased life satisfaction. However, although most young adults have experienced at least one type of childhood adversity, the majority show no psychological or functional impairment. This project aims to identify the role of close relationships in young adults' resilience to childhood adversity, using data from a national longitudinal cohort study. The findings will contribute to theories of relationships and resilience, and inform the development of interventions to prevent stress-related disorders and improve mental health and well-being.
Another strand of research examines relationships in psychotherapy, from both clinicians' and clients' perspectives. One project, with Niamh Davoren, focuses on the role of the therapeutic relationship in interventions for refugees and asylum seekers who have experienced trauma. This research includes a systematic review of literature on therapists' experiences of therapeutic boundaries with refugee and asylum seeker clients, and a qualitative study of psychotherapists' and psychologists' perspectives on providing refugees with trauma therapy in Ireland. Another project, with Phelim Tierney, investigates clinicians' and clients' experiences of culturally adapted parenting interventions. This research includes a systematic review of international research on ethnic minority parents' perceptions of participating in culturally adapted parenting interventions, and a qualitative study of clinicians' and parents' experiences of engaging in a parenting intervention culturally adapted for Irish Travellers.
- Chartered Psychologist, The Psychological Society of Ireland
- Accredited Member, The Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
- Full Member, Society for Psychotherapy Research
- Faculty Member, Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science
- Full Member, International Association for Youth Mental Health