Staff Profile


Dr John McGowan

Academic Director

School: School of Psychology and Life Sciences

Campus: Salomons

Tel: 01227 927107

Profile summary

Dr John McGowan  is the Academic Director of the Clinical Psychology Training Scheme.

John completed his degree in psychology from Strathclyde University in 1990. and a PhD University of Wales (Cardiff) in 1995. His research area was failures in skilled performance and attentional mechanisms. This was followed by two years as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Sussex. He completed the clinical psychology training at Salomons in 2000.

Since qualifying he has worked in the NHS in Kent and Sussex, predominantly as a psychologist attached to inpatient mental health wards. His interests include presentations labelled as 'personality disorders', suicide and self-harm, formulation in complex care, the role of psychological practitioners in multi-disciplinary teams and the role of psychological thinking in inpatient environments. He has also published work considering aspects of cognitive-behaviour therapy for psychosis. His clinical orientation is primarily psychodynamic and he has had further training in cognitive-analytic therapy, psychoanalytic psychotherapy and mentalisation-based therapy.

John also has a strong interest in public engagement is the editor of, and a frequent contributor to, the Salomons Institute blog Discursive of Tunbridge Wells. John also contributes to a range of journalistic outlets. 

Click links for a full archive of all pieces on Discursive of Tunbridge WellsThe Conversation and Spiked

Research and knowledge exchange

Current activities include research on: suicide, 'personality disorders' and the role of psychology in medical settings.

Recent grants include an award from the British Psychological Society Psychology for the production of a review document encompassing recent advances in the treatment of depression

Selected shorter articles

McGowan, J., (2018, July, 4). Froome case suggests it’s time to rethink the WADA code. VeloNews. Retrieved from

McGowan, J., (2018, January, 19). Trump: Bad not mad. Spiked. Retrieved from

McGowan. J., Terry, R., @TheAgentApsley., & Griffiths, M. (2017, November, 14). Roundtable: What should we do with the Mental Health Act? Discursive of Tunbridge Wells Blog. Retrieved from

McGowan, J. (2017, July 18). Saying Donald Trump is mentally ill is unethical, inaccurate and unhelpful. Discursive of Tunbridge Wells Blog. Retrieved from

Cooke, A., Gilchrist, A. & McGowan J. (2014, August, 18). Robin Williams, depression and the complex causes of suicide. The Guardian, August. Retrieved from

McGowan, J. (2014, February, 19). Jury out over forced home treatment for mental illness. The Conversation. Retrieved from

Selected recent podcasts

McGowan, J., Cooke, A., & Terry, R. (2018, February 8).  Shit happens and it drives us crazy.  Podcast retrieved from

McGowan, J. (2018, January 22). Zero suicide: An idea whose time has not (and should not) come. Podcast retrieved from

McGowan, J. Conn, H., Cooke, A., Gilchrist., A, Lea, L., May, R., & Terry, R. (2017, October 2). Can mental health Workers be service users? Podcast retrieved from

McGowan, J., Cooke, A., Gilchrist, A, & Terry, R. (2017, May 17). Against Your Will – Compulsory Powers in the Mental Health System. Podcast retrieved from

McGowan, J., Cooke, A., Gilchrist, A, & Terry, R. (2016, December 18).  Does poverty harm your mental health?  Podcast retrieved from

Teaching and subject expertise

  • Introduction to engagement and assessment.
  • Psychodynamic thinking and practice.
  • Consideration of risk in suicide and self-harm.
  • Personality disorders.
  • Integrative therapies.
  • Media engagement for clinicians

External activities

Recent conferences and presentations

McGowan, J,. (2018). Are we sicker than we think? Paper presented at The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (Sussex) Mental Health Day. March, Brighton.

McGowan, J., & Cooke, A. (2017). Changing the public conversation about suicide:  A call to action. Paper presented at Critical Suicidology 2.0, June, Canterbury.

McGowan, J,. & Cooke, A. (2017). Is Life a Disease? Paper presented at The Role of Diagnosis in Clinical Psychology: Continuing the Dialogue Conference, June, London.

McGowan, J. (2017). Engaging with the Media: A Threat or an Opportunity? Symposium organised at Sussex Partnership Psychology and Psychological Therapies Conference. January, Gatwick Airport

McGowan, J. (2016). Social Recovery. Paper presented at the Recovery Research Network Conference, November, Brighton.

McGowan, J. (2016). Psychos: Madness in the Movies and popular culture. Paper presented at the BPS History and Philosophy Section & UK Critical Psychiatry Network Joint conference, 22nd and 23rd March, Leeds.

McGowan J. and Cooke, A. (2015). A call to arms: psychology and public engagement. Symposium organised at The British Psychological Society, Division of Clinical Psychology Conference. December, London.

McGowan, J. F. (2015) Blogs and social media: free attention. Paper presented at The British Psychological Society, Division of Clinical Psychology Conference. December, London.

McGowan, J. (2015). Psychos, Cuckoo's Nests and Silver Linings: Madness in the Movies. Paper Presenter to the London School of Economic Literary Festival, February, London. Recordings available here.

Cooke, A., & McGowan, J. (2014). Is Life a Disease? Paper Presented to the British Psychological Society, Division of Clinical Psychology Conference, December, Glasgow. Versions of this talk have been presented in a number of public settings around the UK. An audio slideshow is available here.

McGowan, J., & Hickey, L. (2013). Who’s responsibility? Suicide, risk and being sued. Poster presented to the world Congress on Suicide, September, Montreal. (Link for full text)

McGowan, J & Hickey, L. (2012). Responding to suicidal risks: Bridging between research and clinical practice. Paper Presented to the 14th European Symposium of Suicide and Suicidal Behaviour, September, Tel-Aviv. Audio slideshow available here.

And a couple of oldies…

McGowan, J. F. (2009). Corner shops, NICE Guidelines and mothers of invention: clinical psychology and public policy. Paper presented to the annual British Psychological society Division of Clinical Psychology Conference , December, London.

McGowan J. F. (2007). Doing research in the acute environment. Paper presented to the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies Annual Conference, University of Sussex. (Link to full text)

Publications and research outputs

Selected recent journal publications

Barazzone, N., Santos, I., McGowan, J., & Donaghay-Spire, E. (in press). The links between adult attachment and post-traumatic stress: a systematic review. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

Bradley, C., McGowan, J., & Michelson, D.(2017) How does homelessness affect parenting behaviour? A systematic critical review and thematic synthesis of qualitative research. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 1-15.

Coleman, B., Ellis-Caird, H., McGowan, J. & Benjamin, M. (2016). How sickle cell disease patients experience, understand and explain their pain: An interpretative phenomenological analysis study.British Journal of Health Psychology, 21, 190-203

Donaghay-Spire, E. G., McGowan, J., Griffiths, K. & Barazzone, N. (2016) Exploring narratives of psychological input in the acute inpatient setting. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice. 89, 464-482.

Urbanek M., Harvey M., McGowan J., Agrawal N.. (2014). Regulation of emotions in psychogenic nonepileptic seizures. Epilepsy and Behaviour, 37, 110-115

Hart, N., McGowan, J., Minati, L., & Critchley, H. D. (2012). Emotional regulation and bodily sensation: interoceptive awareness is intact in borderline personality disorder. Journal of Personality Disorders, 27, 506-18

And a (hopefully still relevant) oldie…

McGowan, J. F., Lavender, A., & Garety, P. A. (2005). Factors in outcome of cognitive-behavioural therapy for psychosis: Users’ and clinicians’ views. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 78, 4, 513-529. (Link for Full text)

Selected other pieces

McGowan, J. (2014). The Scottish question. The Psychologist,27,398-401. June. 

McGowan, J. (2010). Do We Need to be Hearing this? Service User Involvement in the NHS. Health Service Journal, 27 May. 14-15.

McGowan J. F.  (2008). Working with personality disorders in an acute environment. Clarke, I. & Wilson, H. (Eds.) Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Acute Psychiatric Inpatient Unit: Working with Clients, Staff and the Milieu. London: Routledge. (Link for full text)


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Last edited: 05/12/2017 03:57:00