Professor Susan McPherson

School of Health and Social Care
Professor Susan McPherson
  • Email

  • Telephone

    +44 (0) 1206 874143

  • Location

    2S2.5.22, Colchester Campus

  • Academic support hours

    By appointment only



Susan McPherson is Professor of Psychology and Sociology in the School of Health and Social Care at the University of Essex. From 1998-2007, she worked at the Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust in psychotherapy evaluation, routine outcome monitoring and as a research psychologist in the Psychotherapy Evaluation Research Unit co-ordinating the Tavistock Adult Depression Study (a randomised controlled trial of psychodynamic psychotherapy for treatment resistant depression). She has also previously worked as a researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and at Kings College London. Since 2006, she has been leading research training for the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Essex. Her research spans medical sociology, psychology and disciplines concerned with mental health and social welfare including critical approaches to diagnosis and evidence-based practice.


  • BSc Social Psychology, London School of Economics

  • MSc Health Psychology, University College London

  • PhD Medical Sociology: "Constructing Treatment Resistant Depression in Primary Care" Kings College London, (2007)

Research and professional activities

Research interests

Therapy outcomes and effectiveness

Social care, fostering and adoption

Chronic depression: long term psychotherapy, management in primary care, informal caring

Includes Tavistock Adult Depression Study: the first Randomised Controlled Trial in the NHS to establish if long term psychoanalytic psychotherapy provides relief for patients suffering from long-term depression not helped by other treatments. See lay summary:

Psychiatric labelling

Social history and history of health and care

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Clinical Research 1 (HS763)

  • Clinical Research 2 (HS773)

  • Clinical Applications 3 (HS782)

  • Clinical Research 3 (HS783)

Current supervision


Journal articles (56)

McPherson, SJ. and Speed, E., (2022). NICE rapid guidelines: exploring political influence on guidelines. BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine. 27 (3), 137-140

McPherson, S., Oute, J. and Speed, E., (2022). Quality-of-life measurement in depression trials: A consumerist relic. Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine, 136345932210748-136345932210748

McCormack, C., McPherson, S. and Blumenfeld, F., (2022). Diversity in clinical psychology training at the University of Essex. Clinical Psychology Forum. 352 (April 2022), 29-38

McPherson, S. and Senra, H., (2022). Psychological treatments for persistent depression: A systematic review and meta-analysis of quality of life and functioning outcomes.. Psychotherapy

McPherson, S. and Oute, J., (2021). Responsibilisation of caregivers in depression: the limitations of policy-based evidence. Social Theory and Health. 19 (4), 347-361

Senra, H. and McPherson, S., (2021). Depression in disabling medical conditions – current perspectives. International Review of Psychiatry. 33 (3), 312-325

Vyas, A., Wood, L. and McPherson, S., (2021). A qualitative exploration of stigma experiences of second-generation British South-Asian people using an early intervention in psychosis service. Psychosis: Psychological, Social and Integrative Approaches. 13 (4), 302-314

Cox, P., McPherson, S. and Blumenfeld, F., (2021). Protecting Children, Empowering Birth Parents: New Approaches in Family Justice. Societies. 11 (2), 32-32

McPherson, S. and Armstrong, D., (2021). Psychometric origins of depression. History of the Human Sciences, 095269512110090-095269512110090

McPherson, S., (2021). War of conscience: antivaccination and the battle for medical freedom during World War I. Medical Humanities. 47 (3), e7-e7

McPherson, S. and Oute, J., (2021). A proverbial double-edged sword: A qualitative metasynthesis of family involvement in depression from the perspective of people with depression. Tidsskrift for Forskning i Sygdom og Samfund. 18 (34)

McPherson, SJ., Rost, F., Sidhu, S. and Dennis, M., (2020). Non-strategic ignorance: Considering the potential for a paradigm shift in evidence-based mental health. Health. 24 (1), 3-20

McPherson, S. and Sunkin, M., (2020). The Dobson–Rawlins pact and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence: impact of political independence on scientific and legal accountability. The British Journal of Psychiatry. 216 (4), 231-234

McPherson, S., (2020). A NICE game of Minecraft: philosophical flaws underpinning UK depression guideline nosology. Medical Humanities. 46 (3), 162-165

Jovicic, A. and McPherson, S., (2020). To support and not to cure: general practitioner management of loneliness. Health and Social Care in the Community. 28 (2), 376-384

McPherson, S., (2020). Nice depression guidelines update: Cautious optimism?. Clinical Psychology Forum. 2020 (327), 2-6

McPherson, S., Wicks, C. and Tercelli, I., (2020). Patient experiences of psychological therapy for depression: a qualitative metasynthesis. BMC Psychiatry. 20 (1), 313-

Cox, P., McPherson, S., Mason, C., Ryan, M. and Baxter, V., (2020). Reducing Recurrent Care Proceedings: Building a Local Evidence Base in England. Societies. 10 (4), 88-88

Flintoff, A., Speed, E. and McPherson, SJ., (2019). Risk assessment practice within primary mental health care: A logics perspective. Health. 23 (6), 656-674

Doncaster, E., Hiskey, S., McPherson, S. and Andrews, L., (2019). “I'm Still Fighting for the Two of Us”: How Partners of UK Veterans Construct Their Experience of Living with Combat‐Related Trauma. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy. 45 (3), 464-479

McPherson, S. and Beresford, P., (2019). Semantics of patient choice: how the UK national guideline for depression silences patients. Disability and Society. 34 (3), 1-7

McPherson, S. and Hengartner, MP., (2019). Long-term outcomes of trials in the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence depression guideline. BJPsych Open. 5 (5), e81-

Priestley, J., McPherson, SJ. and Davies, F., (2018). Couples Disease: The Experience of Living with a Partner with Chronic Depression. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy. 17 (2), 128-145

Mcpherson, SJ., (2018). Old wine in new bottles? On the new NICE guidelines for depression. Clinical Psychology Forum. 303 (March 2018), 9-12

McPherson, SJ., Rost, F., Town, J. and Abbass, A., (2018). Epistemological flaws in NICE review methodology and its impact on recommendations for psychodynamic psychotherapies for complex and persistent depression. Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. 32 (2), 102-121

McPherson, S., Andrews, L., Taggart, D., Cox, P., Pratt, R., Smith, V. and Thandi, J., (2018). Evaluating integrative services in edge-of-care work. Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law. 40 (3), 299-320

Rost, F. and McPherson, S., (2018). Guidelines for Depression. New Associations. 27, 14-14

McPherson, S. and Rost, F., (2018). Guest editorial. Clinical Psychology Forum (308), 1-2

Rost, F. and McPherson, S., (2018). Stakeholder position statement on the NICE guideline for depression in adults. Clinical Psychology Forum (308), 3-10

Doherty, E., Walsh, R., Andrews, L. and McPherson, SJ., (2017). Measuring Emotional Intelligence Enhances the Psychological Evaluation of Chronic Pain. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings. 24 (3-4), 365-375

Thompson, H., McPherson, S. and Marsland, L., (2016). 'Am I damaging my own family?': Relational changes between foster carers and their birth children.. Clinical child psychology and psychiatry. 21 (1), 48-65

McPherson, S., Hiskey, S. and Alderson, Z., (2016). Distress in working on dementia wards - a threat to compassionate care: a grounded theory study. International Journal of Nursing Studies. 53, 95-104

Priestley, J. and McPherson, S., (2016). Experiences of adults providing care to a partner or relative with depression: A meta-ethnographic synthesis. Journal of Affective Disorders. 192, 41-49

Floris, J. and McPherson, S., (2015). Fighting the Whole System: Dissociative Identity Disorder, Labelling Theory and Iatrogenic Doubting. Journal of Trauma and Dissociation. 16 (4), 476-493

Fonagy, P., Rost, F., Carlyle, J., McPherson, S., Thomas, R., Pasco Fearon, RM., Goldberg, D. and Taylor, D., (2015). Pragmatic randomized controlled trial of long-term psychoanalytic psychotherapy for treatment-resistant depression: the Tavistock Adult Depression Study (TADS). World Psychiatry. 14 (3), 312-321

McPherson, S., Byng, R. and Oxley, D., (2014). Treatment resistant depression in primary care: Co-constructing difficult encounters. Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine. 18 (3), 261-278

McPherson, S., Clayton, S., Wood, H., Hiskey, S. and Andrews, L., (2013). The Role of Childhood Experiences in the Development of Sexual Compulsivity. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity. 20 (4), 259-278

Hiskey, S. and McPherson, S., (2013). That's just life: older adult constructs of trauma. Aging & Mental Health. 17 (6), 689-696

Hiskey, S. and McPherson, S., (2013). That's just life: older adult constructs of trauma. Faculty for the Psychology of Older People Newsletter. 124, 17-23

McPherson, S. and Armstrong, D., (2012). General Practitioner Management of Depression: A Systematic Review. Qualitative Health Research. 22 (8), 1150-1159

Taylor, D., Carlyle, J., McPherson, S., Rost, F., Thomas, R. and Fonagy, P., (2012). Tavistock Adult Depression Study (TADS): a randomised controlled trial of psychoanalytic psychotherapy for treatment-resistant/treatment-refractory forms of depression. BMC Psychiatry. 12 (1), 60-

Mcpherson, SJ. and McPherson, A., (2012). The private and political journey of Norah Dacre Fox, a suffragette turned fascist. Historica: women's history magazine. 69 (Summer 2012)

Sinclair, M., McPherson, S., Bor, R. and Orban, L., (2011). Another dragon in the kitchen: Psychological experiences of hepatitis C treatment among HIV-hepatitis C co-infected gay men. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research. 11 (3), 228-236

Thompson, H. and McPherson, S., (2011). The experience of living with a foster sibling, as described by the birth children of foster carers A thematic analysis of the literature. Adoption & Fostering Journal. 35 (2), 49-60

Pauley, G. and McPherson, S., (2010). The experience and meaning of compassion and self-compassion for individuals with depression or anxiety. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice. 83 (2), 129-143

McPherson, A. and Mcpherson, SJ., (2010). Norah Elam: a Feminist Fascist from Stillorgan. Journal of the Kilmacud-Stillorgan Local History Society (5)

McPherson, S., Evans, C. and Richardson, P., (2009). The NICE Depression Guidelines and the recovery model: Is there an evidence base for IAPT?. Journal of Mental Health. 18 (5), 405-414

McPherson, S. and Armstrong, D., (2009). Negotiating ?depression? in primary care: A qualitative study. Social Science & Medicine. 69 (8), 1137-1143

McPherson, S., Walker, C. and Carlyle, J-A., (2006). Primary care counsellors’ experiences of working with treatment resistant depression: A qualitative pilot study. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research. 6 (4), 250-257

McPherson, S. and Armstrong, D., (2006). Social determinants of diagnostic labels in depression. Social Science & Medicine. 62 (1), 50-58

McPherson, S. and Armstrong, D., (2006). Erratum to: “Social determinants of diagnostic labels in depression”. Social Science & Medicine. 62 (11), 2915-2915

McPherson, S., Cairns, P., Carlyle, J., Shapiro, DA., Richardson, P. and Taylor, D., (2005). The effectiveness of psychological treatments for treatment-resistant depression: a systematic review.. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. 111 (5), 331-340

McPherson, S., (2003). Stress and coping in accident and emergency senior house officers. Emergency Medicine Journal. 20 (3), 230-231

Di Ceglie, D., Freedman, D., McPherson, S. and Richardson, P., (2002). Children and Adolescents Referred to a Specialist Gender Identity Development Service: Clinical Features and Demographic Characteristics. International Journal of Transgenderism. 6 (1)

McPherson, S. and Wilkinson, M., (2001). Health informatics and the cultural divide: a UK perspective. Health Informatics Journal. 7 (2), 62-65

Wilkinson, M. and Mcpherson, SJ., (2001). NHS Direct Online and the Information Divide. Health Information on the Internet (22), 8-10

Books (2)

McPherson, S. and McPherson, A., (2010). Mosley's Old Suffragette: A Biography of Norah Dacre Fox. 9781446699676

McPherson, S., (2003). Clinical Effectiveness in Psychotherapy and Mental Health Strategies and Resources for Effective Clinical Governance. Karnac Books. 1855759020. 9781855759022

Book chapters (3)

McPherson, S., Rost, F., Town, J. and Abbass, A., (2020). Epistemological flaws in NICE review methodology and its impact on recommendations for psychodynamic psychotherapies for complex and persistent depression. In: The Social and Interpersonal Origins of Depression Today. Editors: Clarke, J., Cundy, P. and Yakeley, J., . Routledge. 0367458985. 9780367458980

Speed, E., McPherson, S. and Beresford, P., (2020). Questioning the Patient Participation Imperative. In: Health and Wellbeing: The University of Essex Reader. Editors: Boncori, I. and Loughran, T., . Editoriale Scientifica. 169- 186. 9788893916639

Taylor, D., Carlyle, J., Mcpherson, SJ. and Rost, F., (2013). Die Tavistock Adult Depression Study (TADS): Eine randomisiert kontrollierte Studie zur analytischen Psychotherapie therapieresistenter/therapierefraktarer Depressionen. In: Chronische Depression Verstehen – Behandeln – Erforschen. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. 268- 307. 3525451687. 9783525451687

Other (14)

McPherson, S., Beresford, P., Speed, E. and Taggart, D., Cost of Living blog: Beyond the academy - democratising user involvement in health & social care

McPherson, S., (2020).Cost of Living blog: We need rest not reflection: psychological support for the medical frontline

McPherson, S. and Oute, J., (2020).Cost of Living blog: In lockdown with depression: let’s not pass the buck onto families in the aftermath of COVID-19

McPherson, S., (2020).Cost of Living blog: Mistakes of the Masters: the problem with Chief Scientific Officers

McPherson, S., (2020).For COVID-19 vaccination programmes to be effective history shows gender equality in science is necessary,LSE Impact Blog

McPherson, S., (2019).BMJ Rapid Response: What's wrong with the NICE depression guideline?

McPherson, S., (2019).Cost of Living blog: Atalanta the Greek Amazon - revisioning gender equality in STEMM

Mcpherson, SJ., (2017).Guidelines for Depression: More Gourmet Nights from NICE. Clinical Psychology Forum(304),

Mcpherson, SJ., (2017).Response to NICE Draft Guideline on Depression in Adults,National Institute for Health Care and Excellence (NICE )

Mcpherson, SJ., (2017).Old wine in new bottles: on the new NICE guideline for depression. Clinical Psychology Forum(303),

Mcpherson, S., Rost, F., Taylor, D. and Fonagy, P., (2017).Leaflet: A lay summary of the Tavistock Adult Depression Study, a Randomised Controlled Trial of long term psychoanalytic psychotherapy for long-term depression.,Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust

Mcpherson, SJ., (2016).Psychodynamic therapy – there’s more to it than lying on a couch talking about your childhood,The Conversation

Mcpherson, SJ. and Hiskey, S., (2016).Is the NHS really suffering a crisis of compassion?,

Mcpherson, SJ., (2015).Suffragette: On 100 years of votes for women,

Grants and funding


NIHR CRN Eastern Social Care Research Readiness Project

National Institute for Health Research

NIHR CRN Eastern Social Care Research Readiness Project

National Institute for Health Research

Proposal to Evaluate the 'Step Together' Service run by Venus Charity, Sefton, Merseyside (Year 3 - Oct 2019 to Sept 2020; Year 4 - Oct 2020 to Sept 2021)

Venus Charity

Developing user-led evidence synthesis for people living with depression

University of Essex (ESRC IAA)

Proposal for Evaluation of Community Music project

Community Music Ltd

NIHR CRN Eastern Social Care Research Readiness Project

National Institute for Health Research


Stockport Comma Evaluation

Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Patient Outcomes Project

Alzheimer's Research UK

Edge of Care Service Evaluation

Family Action


Self care programme bid

Eastern Academic Health Science Network

IAA ECC Challenge Lab project - Improving employment rates for disabled people

Catalyst Project (HEFCE Funding)

IAA ECC Challenge Lab project - Improving employment rates for disabled people

University of Essex

Evaluation of Recurrent Court Proceedings

Venus Charity

Research in Practice. Evaluation tool's users guide for local authorities

The Dartington Hall Trust

+44 (0) 1206 874143


2S2.5.22, Colchester Campus

Academic support hours:

By appointment only