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Dr Tim O'Brien
  • Honorary Senior Lecturer
  • IOE - Social Science
  • UCL Institute of Education

Honorary Senior Lecturer and Visiting Fellow in Psychology and Human Development at UCL, Institute of Education.  

Former Senior Lecturer, Westminster College, Oxford. 

Former Lecturer in Psychology, Learning and Human Development [specialising in Emotional and Behavioural needs] at the Institute of Education, University of London.


Tim was the first person to be awarded The Fulton Fellowship. 
The Hines Page Scholarship (UK/USA).

Work in the field of Psychology, Human Development and Wellbeing includes:
First Team Psychologist/Club Psychologist for three English Premier League Teams. This included over 10 years as First Team Psychologist at Arsenal Football Club. Tim left Arsenal FC three years ago to return to academic work.

Coaching individuals and teams in a range of global businesses. Tim has applied Grounded Theory as an analytic methodology for insight into, and development of, higher performance in business teams in multiple business sectors. 

Consulting to National Health Service executive teams across the UK. 

Tim worked in mainstream and special education...

Mainstream education: Secondary, Comprehensive (11-16) 
Special education: Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties ( age 4-16); 
Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD, primary) [Advanced Diploma in Psychology and SLD].

He was a judge in the first debating competition in the UK to take place inside a prison between prisoners. He has also been a judge for the national TES School Awards.

Tim delivers Keynote presentations nationally and internationally. 


Tim's first book 'Promoting Positive Behaviour' was published in 1998. 
His most recent book, 'Inner Story: Understand Your Mind. Change Your World', was published in 2016. 

He has co-written, edited and contributed to books in the field of psychology and human development, inclusion and pedagogy since 1998
Examples include ...
O'Brien, T. (2001) Enabling Inclusion: Blue Skies...Dark Clouds? London: The Stationery Office.
O'Brien, T. and Guiney, D. (2001) Differentiation in Teaching and Learning: principles and practice. London: Continuum.
O'Brien, T. and Garner, P. (eds) (2001) Untold Stories: Learning Support Assistants and their work. Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham.
Benton, P. and O'Brien, T. (eds) (2001) Special Needs and the Beginning Teacher. London: Continuum
O'Brien, T. (2002) 'As Chaotic as a Box of Frogs' in B.Rogers (ed) Leadership and Behaviour Management. London: Paul Chapman
O'Brien, T. and Guiney, D. (2004) 'The Problem is not the Problem: Hard Cases in Modernist Systems' in P. Garner, P. Clough, T. Pardeck and F. Yuen (eds) Handbook of Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties. London: Sage
O'Brien, T. (2005) 'Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties' in Lewis, A and Norwich, B. (eds) Special Teaching for Special Children? Pedagogies for Inclusion.  Milton Keynes: Open University Press.
O'Brien, T. (2017) 'Psychology and... ' [ a collection of psychology-related contributions ] in McGill, R. (2017) Mark. Plan. Teach. London: Bloomsbury. 
O'Brien, T. and Guiney, D. (2019) Staff Wellbeing in Higher Education. London: Education Support Partnership. 

Member of the British Psychological Society.
Peer Reviewer for The British Journal of Music Education. 

Research Summary

PhD [2003]: Empirical Field: Psychology; Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties. 

Empirical Setting: Psychological constructions  
[including, constructions of reality; constructions of pedagogy].

Theoretical Framework: Psychology, Phenomenology, Philosophy. Conceptual Pluralism.

Methodological Framework: Qualitative. Grounded Theory. 

Current Research:

Tim's main research focus relates to dimensions of wellbeing in multiple contexts (children and young people, teachers in all settings and staff in Higher Education) and to children and young people who experience social, emotional and mental health needs [SEMH].

- Designed and co-led, with Dr. Dennis Guiney, the Teacher Wellbeing programme for The Chartered College of Teaching. This programme incorporates both psychology and phenomenology, has a practical focus and took place in Government Opportunity Areas across the UK.The focus is on improving teacher wellbeing through action research based upon the lived experience of teachers and what wellbeing means in their own schools.  

- In 2017/2018 co-led, with Dr. Amelia Roberts, a ten month research and knowledge exchange programme (Supporting Wellbeing, Emotional Resilience and Learning: SWERL) in the area of children's wellbeing, resilience and learning in primary schools with a particular focus on young children who experience SEMH. 

In 2018/2019 the SWERL programme is taking place with 15 schools in one of the government Opportunity areas [Suffolk] starting in February 2019.

SWERL research is being conducted through the UCL Centre for Inclusive Education and the UCL Department of Psychology and Human Development.

Tim recently completed the 'Staff wellbeing in Higher Education' research project for The Education Support Partnership - the only charity in the UK to offer wellbeing and mental health services to education staff and organisations. The research applies an a posteriori inductive analytic methodology and is a signposting study for future large scale research. Outcomes will be reported nationally in May 2019 - see 'publications', O'Brien and Guiney (2019).


Teaching Summary

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