Dr Angela Sweeney is a post-doctoral research fellow in the Population Health Research Institute. She is a survivor researcher with an interest in:
- survivor controlled research and experiential knowledge;
- survivors' perspectives on and experiences of mental health services and treatments (particularly talking therapies and survivor controlled services);
- anti-psychiatry and alternatives to mainstream psychiatry;
- trauma and trauma-informed approaches;
- social approaches to mental distress;
- mad studies; and
- the sociology of mental health.
Dr Sweeney is currently undertaking a five year programme of research entitled understanding and improving Assessment Processes for Talking Therapies (APTT: NIHR 2014-2018).
She decided to research this area because experiential evidence from survivors suggests that talking therapy assessments are problematic, yet this hasn’t been subject to research scrutiny. Therefore, the APTT research programme will explore talking therapy assessments and seek to understand how these can be improved, with the goal of minimising harm to people undergoing assessment.
Study one will systematically review relevant international literature. In study two, pairs (or dyads) of assessors and service users will be interviewed and the convergence/divergence of accounts explored through thematic analysis. Additional in depth qualitative methods will be used to explore service users’ lived experiences. Finally, study three will use consensus methods to generate full clinical guidelines on talking therapy assessments.
Dr Angela Sweeney is a social scientist and survivor researcher (trauma survivor) and draws on these experiences, as well as those of survivor colleagues, in conducting research.
She is currently completing an NIHR Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship in the Institute of Population Health Research. The focus of the fellowship is assessment processes for talking therapies. Prior to this, she conducted research into therapeutic alliances in crisis houses and psychiatric wards at University College London. She has a PhD in medical sociology from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London in which she developed and psychometrically tested a user-defined outcome measure for continuity of care.
Dr Sweeney has edited a book with Jasna Russo about survivor controlled alternatives to psychiatry entitled Searching for a Rose Garden: Fostering Real Alternatives to Psychiatry. She previously co-edited This is Survivor Research (2009).
• Refocus on Recovery conference Scientific Advisory Board member, 2014.
• NCT 1,000 days study Parent Representative, 2013 onwards.
• McPin Foundation Advisory Board member, 2014 onwards.
• INVOLVE Inclusion Project Consultation and Review Group member (2012).
• New Economics Foundation, Budgets and Beyond project Reference Group member, 2010.
Awards and honours
Dr Angela Sweeney was awarded the first PhD from the Service User Research Enterprise, Institute of Psychiatry (2010). She received one of the top five marks in the country for Sociology A-level.
Sweeney A, Fahmy S, Nolan F, Morant N, Fox Z, Lloyd-Evans B, Osborn D, Burgess E, Gilburt H, McCabe R, Slade M and Johnson S The Relationship between Therapeutic Alliance and Service User Satisfaction in Mental Health Inpatient Wards and Crisis House Alternatives: A Cross-Sectional Study PLoS ONE 2014 9(7): e100153. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0100153
Sweeney A, Fahmy S, Nolan F, Morant N, Fox Z, Lloyd-Evans B, Osborn D, Burgess E, Gilburt H, McCabe R, and Johnson S. A mixed-methods study exploring therapeutic relationships and their association with service user satisfaction in acute psychiatric wards and crisis residential alternatives. Health Serv Deliv Res 2014;2(22).
Sweeney A & Clement S (2014) Stigma: A Patient’s View in Cultural Sociology of Mental Illness: An A-Z Guide. Scull A (Ed) Sage
Sweeney A (2013) Sociology and Survivor Research Chapter One in Mental Health Service Users in Research: critical sociological perspectives. Staddon P (Ed) Policy Press: Bristol
Sweeney A, Rose D, Clement S, Jichi F, Jones I, Burns T, Catty J, McLaren S and Wykes T Understanding service user-defined continuity of care and its relationship to health and social measures: a cross-sectional study. BMC Health Services Research 2012 12: 145-154
Sweeney A, Greenwood K, Williams S, Wykes T and Rose D Hearing the voices of service user researchers in collaborative qualitative data analysis: the case for multiple coding Health Expectations 2012 doi: 10.1111/j.1369-7625.2012.00810.x
Sweeney A, (2014) Are therapeutic relationships between staff and service users on psychiatric wards possible? My hope for engagement on equal terms. Published at UCL Psychiatry Blog
Sweeney A Beresford P, Faulkner A, Nettle M, & Rose D. (2009) This is Survivor Research. PCCS: Ross-on-Wye.
Wallcraft J, Read J and Sweeney A (2003) On Our Own Terms: Users and survivors of mental health services working together for support and change. The Centre for Mental Health
Dr Angela Sweeney works in Steve Gillard’s mental health research group alongside Kati Turner, Sarah Gibson and others.
Advisory Groups members for current research into assessment processes for talking therapies (APTT):
Sarah Gibson, St George’s, University of London
Mary Ion, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust
Jan 2014 – Dec 2019 National Institute for Health Research, Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship £285,348.