Dr Angela Sweeney is a postdoctoral 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).

Advisory roles

•    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.  


Recent publications

Sweeney A, Fahmy S, Nolan F et al (2014) The Relationship between Therapeutic Alliance and Service User Satisfaction in Mental Health Inpatient Wards and Crisis House Alternatives: A Cross-Sectional Study PLoS ONE 9(7): e100153. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0100153

Sweeney A, Gillard S, Wykes T & Rose D (2015) The role of fear in mental health service users’ experiences: a qualitative exploration Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 50:1079–1087.

Sweeney A, Davies J, Whittock M et al (2015) Defining continuity of care from the perspectives of mental health service users and professionals: an exploratory comparative study. Health Expectations doi: 10.1111/hex.12435

Christmas D and Sweeney A (2016) Service user, survivor, patient or client . . . has the time come to return to ‘patient’? British Journal of Psychiatry, 209 (1) 9-13; DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.115.167221

Key publications

Sweeney A, Clement S, Filson B, Kennedy A (2016) Trauma-informed mental healthcare in the UK: what is it and how can we further its development? Mental Health Review Journal Vol 21(3)

Russo, J. & Sweeney A (Eds) (2016). Searching for a Rose Garden. Challenging Psychiatry, Fostering Mad Studies. Monmouth: PCCS Books

Sweeney A (2016) Why Mad Studies needs survivor research and survivor research needs Mad Studies. Intersectionalities Vol 5(3)


Research group

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):

Vanessa Anenden

Katie Bogart

Sarah Carr

Jocelyn Catty

David Clark

Sarah Clement

Alison Faulkner

Sarah Gibson, St George’s, University of London

Mary Ion, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust

Jayasree Kalathil

Angela Kennedy

Gemma Kothari

Lana Samuels

Stephen Keeble


Jan 2014 – Dec 2019 National Institute for Health Research, Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship £285,348.

Last Updated: Tuesday, 07 November 2017 13:54