Clinical Research & Initiatives

Clinical Psychology is a psychological specialty that draws on research-based practice to provide comprehensive assessment and mental health care to people across the lifespan from diverse backgrounds, in a range of hospital and community settings. This branch of psychology integrates the science of psychology with the treatment of complex human problems. Clinical psychologists work with people who present with a wide range of health problems that include addiction, anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, psychosis, developmental and learning difficulties, and family and relationship issues. Their expertise lies in assessment, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the mental health challenges that people face in adjusting to these problems, and the significant life changes that they impose. To address these issues, Clinical Psychologists need to draw on a broad evidence-base that requires in-depth knowledge of behavior, memory, learning, emotions, motivations, and human development. Despite this wide remit, clinical psychologists share the same fundamental goal of working to reduce psychological distress and enhancing psychological well-being.

SIGN’s research in clinical psychology addresses this same goal with a particular emphasis on the role of social identity processes in understanding and managing addictions, depression, chronic mental health problems and cognitive health in aging. Below we provide a brief description of the scope of the research and a key paper relevant to each area.


This work has drawn on the social identity approach to understand how people’s social networks influence trajectories of recovery and relapse.

Best, D., Beckwith, M., Haslam, C., Haslam, S.A., Jetten, J., Mawson, E., & Lubman, D. I. (in press). Overcoming drug and alcohol addiction as a process of social identity transition: The Social Identity Model of Recovery (SIMOR). Addiction, Research and Theory, EARLY ONLINE: 1–13. [Full Text]

Chronic Mental Illness

Drawing on the Recovery model of mental health and social identity, this work focuses on understanding how people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other chronic conditions are benefitted by their participation in group based programs such as Reclink and the School of Hard Knocks institute.

Dingle, GA., Brander, C., Ballantyne, J., & Baker, F. (2013) “To Be Heard” – the social and mental health benefits of choir singing for disadvantaged adults. Psychology of Music, 41, 4: 405–421.



In this domain SIGN researchers have demonstrated how fundamental social group relationships are to the presentation, prevention and treatment of depression.

Cruwys, T., Haslam, S.A., Dingle, G.A., Haslam, C., & Jetten, J. (2014). Depression and social identity: An integrative review. Personality and Social Psychology Review 18(3), 215-238. [Full Text]


Cognitive Health in Ageing

We know that older people who are more socially active are less vulnerable to cognitive decline. This research has focused on understanding the mechanisms underlying this effect and the types of social ties (notably, group-based ties) that are especially protective.

Haslam, C., Cruwys, T., & Haslam, S.A. (2014). “The we’s have it”: Evidence for the distinctive benefits of group engagement in enhancing cognitive health in ageing. Social Science and Medicine, 120, 57-66. [Full Text]