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Prof Peter Fonagy
Room 541
Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology
1-19 Torrington Place
  • Head of the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences
  • Clinical, Edu & Hlth Psychology
  • Div of Psychology & Lang Sciences
  • Faculty of Brain Sciences
Head of Department

Professor Peter Fonagy OBE FMedSci FBA PhD

Peter Fonagy is Head of the Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology at UCL; Chief Executive of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, London; Consultant to the Child and Family Programme at the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine; and holds visiting professorships at Yale and Harvard Medical Schools.

He is Programme Director of the UCLPartners Integrated Mental Health programme and a member of the UCLPartners Academic Board, National Clinical Advisor of the Department of Health/NHS England Children and Young People’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (CYP IAPT) programme, and a member of the Programme Board for IAPT. He is leader of the Mental Health theme in the North Thames CLAHRC and a Senior Investigator for the National Institute of Health Research. He has occupied a number of key national leadership positions including Chair of the Outcomes Measurement Reference Group at the Department of Health, Chair of two NICE Guideline Development Groups, and Chair of the Strategy Group for National Occupational Standards for Psychological Therapies. He currently co-chairs the Department of Health's Expert Reference Group on Vulnerable Children.

His clinical interests centre on issues of early attachment relationships, social cognition, borderline personality disorder and violence. A major focus of Professor Fonagy’s contribution has been an innovative research-based dynamic therapeutic approach, called Mentalization-Based Treatment, which was developed in collaboration with a number of clinical sites both in this country and in the US. He is currently PI or Co-PI on research grants worth in excess of £15 million. He has published over 450 scientific papers and 250 chapters, and has authored or co-authored 17 books. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, the Academy of Medical Sciences, and the American Association for Psychological Science, and was elected to Honorary Fellowship by the American College of Psychiatrists. He has received Lifetime Achievement Awards from several national and international professional associations including the British Academy, the British Psychological Society and the World Association for Infant Mental Health.

Research Summary

My research work has largely focused on the integration of psychodynamic theoretical and clinical work with empirical research strategies in the areas of early emotional development and psychosocial treatment research, engaging specifically with severe personality pathology. "Mentalization based treatment" or MBT is an innnovative research-based dynamic therapeutic approach developed by the Psychoanalysis Unit in collaboration with a number of clinical sites both in this country (the Anna Freud Centre, the Halliwick Psychotherapy Service, the Marlborough Family Service, the Brandon Centre, Islington CAMHS) and in the US (the Menninger Clinic and the Yale Child Study Center). It is based on a developmental research relevant to a theory of personality disorder reported in a frequently cited 1991 paper (Maternal representations of attachment during pregnancy predict the organization of infant-mother attachment at one year of age) and a number of books from our group (Attachment Theory and Psychoanalysis + Other Press; Affect Regulation, Mentalization and the Development of the Self + Other Press). I am also engaged in a major collaborative programme exploring developmental psychopathology from an attachment-mentalization perspective. A longstanding collaboration with the Child and Family Program of the Menninger Clinic has been extended to include the Yale Child Study Center. This international collaboration has yielded a number of cutting-edge research programs funded from the Menninger Child and Family Center endowment and other extra-mural sources. In previous studies our laboratory has found close relationships between the development of social cognition (mentalizing) and the quality of early attachment relationships.

Teaching Summary

I have a leadership role in the development and ongoing growth of clinical psychology within UCL and the teaching of psychoanalysis. There was no clinical psychology at UCL when I joined the staff in 1977. In 2007 we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Clinical Psychology Professional training programme which I established at UCL and which I was proud to co-Direct until September 2011.

It took 10 years (1977 to 1986) for us to be able to establish a programme by first developing undergraduate clinical courses, then a diploma course and finally a Masters programme accredited by the Professional body (the BPS). The course has ultimately become the most popular and respected doctoral programme in the UK. When cuts were imposed on almost all other UK-based courses in 2007, UCL retained all its 42 new commissions (126 in total), which indicates the esteem in which this course is held by the Strategic Health Authority. In 2010, with many courses experiencing substantial cuts, UCL had only a 5% cut in its contracted 2011 intake which it made up from training psychologists intending to practice oversees.  Current indicated ‘quality adjusted’ training numbers 2012 (adjusted for quality) for next year are 43, and international applications from fully foreign state funded applicants massively exceed the places we can offer. It remains the most popular program in the country in terms of number of applications (1,300 this year). I have overseen a successful major expansion of the programme (intake increasing from 5 to 42) associated with staff expansion (from 4 to 24), change of degree status (MSc to Doctoral degree), pay scale and workload reallocation negotiations, introduction of new examination procedures and a new team-based internal administrative structure. We have successfully negotiated several major QAA reviews, an HPC review and five BPS quinquennial reviews, the last of which identified UCL as housing a ‘beacon programme’. While these developments represent an extraordinary team effort I feel proud of the robust health of the clinical programme and its capacity to retain its leadership position through massive changes in the NHS, the profession and the university.

01-OCT-2016 Prof. of Contemporary Psychoanalysis & Developmental Science   University College London, United Kingdom
2015 Director of Research and Development   North East London Foundation Trust, United Kingdom
2011 – 2015 Visiting Professor   Harvard University, United States
2011 – 2016 National Clinical Lead IAPT for Children & Young People Department of Health, United Kingdom
2011 Senior Investigator   National Institute for Health Research, United Kingdom
2011 Honorary Principal Investigator   Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust, United Kingdom
2011 National Clinical Lead Children and Young People's Improving Access to Psychological Therapies Programme Department of Health/NHS England, United Kingdom
2010 Programme Director Mental Health and Wellbeing Theme UCL Partners, United Kingdom
2008 Head of Department Res Dept Clin, Edu & Health Psychology University College London, United Kingdom
2005 Clinical Professor of Psychiatry School of Medicine Yale University, United States
2003 Consultant, Child and Family Program Menninger Dept of Psychiatry Baylor College of Medicine, United States
2003 Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry   Baylor College of Medicine, United States
2003 Chief Executive Officer   Anna Freud Centre, United Kingdom
1999 – 2003 Marie & Scott S. Smith Chair in Child Development   The Karl Menninger School of Psych & MH Sciences, United States
1995 – 2003 Coordinator Child and Family Center Menninger Clinic, United States
1995 – 2002 Adjunct Professor of Clinical Psychology   Kansas University, United States
1995 – 2007 Director Sub-Department of Clinical Health Psychology University College London, United Kingdom
1995 Training and Supervising Psychoanalyst   British Psychoanalytic Society, United Kingdom
1992 – 30-SEP-2016 Freud Memorial Professor of Psychoanalysis   University College London, United Kingdom
1989 – 2003 Director of Research   Anna Freud Centre, United Kingdom
1988 – 1992 Senior Lecturer in Clinical Psychology   University College London, United Kingdom
1986 – 1989 Consultant to Research   Anna Freud Centre, United Kingdom
1980 – 1985 Honorary Senior Clinical Psychologist   Royal Free Hospital, London, United Kingdom
1977 – 1980 Trainee Clinical Psychology   North East Thames Regional Health, United Kingdom
1977 – 1987 Lecturer in Psychology   University College London, United Kingdom
Academic Background
1980 Dip. Diploma – Clinical Psychology British Psychological Society
1980 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Psychology University College London
1974 BSc Hons Bachelor of Science (Honours) – Psychology University College London
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