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Developing and evaluating a self-help intervention for adverse and/or potentially traumatic life experiences for adolescents and young adults

Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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Dr F Varese , Dr S Bucci Applications accepted all year round

About the Project

Exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) represent one of the most important factor influencing the risk of developing physical and mental health difficulties in adulthood. These experiences can range from relatively common, but nonetheless upsetting, life events (e.g. parental separation or divorce) to more severe and potentially traumatic experiences, including exposure to physical violence or sexual abuse.

Psychological interventions, such as ‘talking therapies’ can be beneficial to people who have experienced adverse and/or potentially traumatic life events in childhood. However, these potentially beneficial interventions are often available only to a minority of individuals who might benefit from them. For example, certain individuals might be feeling too ashamed to ask for help, or attending regular sessions with a psychologist might be perceived as too burdensome by some. Self-help interventions represents a useful treatment option for people exposed to potentially traumatic childhood experiences who, for various reasons, might not be able or be willing to access face-to-face therapy. Furthermore, they can represent a first line of intervention to signpost those most in need to more appropriate sources of support for their mental health and well-being needs.

This project will aim to develop a self-help intervention to support adolescents and young adults with a history of potentially traumatic life events. The intervention will be based on the principle of evidence-based interventions for treating the psychological sequelae of adverse life events (e.g. psychoeducation, cognitive-behavioural interventions, EMDR) and will be developed with involvement from people with lived experience of trauma to maximise acceptability and potential clinical value. The PhD will involve an early stage feasibility trial and qualitative evaluation of the intervention.

Training/techniques to be provided:
The project will be supervised by Dr Filippo Varese and Professor Sandra Bucci. Bucci and Varese are co-Directors of the Complex Trauma and Resilience Research Unit. The training provided will be functional to the specific needs of the PhD research conducted by the applicant. The research team is highly experienced in the development and evaluation of psychological interventions for mental health difficulties, including severe mental health problems brought about by trauma. The team has expertise in designing and conducting feasibility trials, qualitative research, experience sampling methodology, advanced statistical analysis, systematic reviews and meta-analysis, amongst other methodologies. Bespoke training will be available and successful applicants will be complemented by further academic skills training available through the University of Manchester Doctoral Academy.

Entry Requirements:
Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a related area / subject. Candidates with experience in clinical experience in trauma or with an interest in this clinical area are encouraged to apply.

For international students we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences. For more information please visit

Funding Notes

Applications are invited from self-funded students. This project has a Band 1 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website ( For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (

As an equal opportunities institution we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status. All appointments are made on merit.

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