Dr Vilas Sawrikar

Lecturer in Clinical Psychology

Contact details



Medical Quad
Teviot Place
Doorway 6, Rm 1.M8

Post code


I am a Lecturer of Clinical Psychology in the School of Health and Social Sciences and a registered psychologist. I completed my postgraduate studies at the University of New South Wales, Australia, where I completed a combined Masters/Phd in in Clincial Psychology, with specialisation in clinical child psychology. I have also previously worked as a Health Economist implementing components of National Health Reform, including optimisation of hospital funding systems and resource allocation into practice.


PhD in Clinical Psychology

Ms in Clinical Psychology

Graduate/Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology

Ms Applied Statitistics

B Economics

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Research summary

My area of interest is translational research in clinical child psychology ('from research to practice towards public health impact') informed by precision behavioural science, prevention science, and health service research. The main thrust of the work is translating research into evidence-based interventions and service delivery systems in line with the 'Triple Aim' of quality healthcare: improve client outcomes, improve population health, and improve cost efficiency. I am particularly interested in these aspects of research in the development and translation of psychological interventions for externalising and affective disorders among children and young people. Key words: Child mental health, clinical child psychology, health service research, externalising/disruptive disorders, emotional health, affective disorders, parenting interventions

Key issues addressed within themes include:

Precision behavioural science: The aim is to determine how best to design treatments in ways that are sensitive to, and capitilise on, individual differences in developmental pathways to mental illness and responses to psychological interventions. I explore novel approaches to optimising treatment outcomes through theory-driven developments in precision-based psychotherapy practice and treatment formats. 

Prevention science: The work focuses on reducing the occurrence of mental ill health, through population health-oriented systems of care which address wider determinants of mental health (e.g., individual, social and economic, environment). Areas of interest include optimal health service delivery, preventive interventions in mental health care, as well as system-, economic- and individual-level factors associated with inequality in mental health and mental health care for children and young people.

Health service research: With a focus on optimal service delivery, I examine the management of limited public health resources to deliver evidence-based interventions efficiently while being effective and accessible. The work also focuses on service delivery factors associated with inequality in mental health care

Current research projects:

  • Transdiagnostic and dimensional conceptualisation of child and adolescent mental health.
  • Precision behavioural science examining methods of personalising psychological interventions for children and young people.
  • Data driven approaches to health and service innovation.
  • Life course study of longitudinal processes linking early-onset mental health problems to adult mental health

Please see projects below for information about specific research conducted

Past research interests

Health cost and funding systems to determine allocation of economic resources

Project activity

I invite prospective students to contact me if they are interested in any of the research projects. There are several lines of research being undertaken within the main research themes: 

Precision behavioural science

1. Optimising parenting interventions for child behavioural and emotional problems: This is pursued through examining child- and parent-level correlates of child behavioural and emotional problems relevant to predicting and moderating outcomes. Areas of research include (i) conduct problem subtypes, (ii) transdiagnostic conceptualisation of behavioural and emotional problems (e.g., paediatric irratibility), and (iii) parenting processes (parental attributions, expressed emotion) potentially worthy of focus in parenting interventions.

Example references:

Vidal-Ribas, P., Brotman, M. A., Valdivieso, I., Leibenluft, E., & Stringaris, A. (2016). The status of irritability in psychiatry: a conceptual and quantitative review. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 55(7), 556-570.

Blair, R. J. R. (2013). The neurobiology of psychopathic traits in youths. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 14(11), 786-799.

Sawrikar, V., & Dadds, M. (2018). What role for parental attributions in parenting interventions for child conduct problems? Advances from research into practice. Clinical child and family psychology review, 21(1), 41-56.

2. Stage appropriate psychotherapy interventions for depression. This research is focused on examining heterogeneity in depressive disorders with specific reference to individual differences in cognitive, emotion, and behavioural deficits across different stages of the depression course. The research aims to optimise psychotherapy outcomes for depression by personalising therapy according to individual characteristics of where the individual sits along a continuum representing depression course. 


Guidi, J., Tomba, E., Cosci, F., Park, S. K., & Fava, G. A. (2017). The role of staging in planning psychotherapeutic interventions in depression. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 78(4), 456-463.

Prevention science research

1. Longitudinal trajectories of childhood-onset mental illness: With half of all lifetime disorders emerging in childhood, intervening in these early years is important to succesful early intervention. In line with this, I am interested in understanding individual differences in the course of mental illness through transitions in early stages of life, beginning from behavioural-emotional problems in childhood to later onset of mood and affective problems. I am particularly interested in transdiagnostic conceptualisation of behavioural and emotional problems (e.g., affective dysregulation).

Example reference:

Leibenluft, E., Cohen, P., Gorrindo, T., Brook, J. S., & Pine, D. S. (2006). Chronic Versus Episodic Irritability in Youth: ACommunity-Based, Longitudinal Study of Clinical and Diagnostic Associations. Journal of Child & Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 16(4), 456-466.

Health service research

1. Engaging fathers in early intervention programs. Fathers are significantly underrepresented in CAMHS services. This project is part of ongoing research involving implementation of practitioner training for increasing practitioner skills in working with fathers within the CAMHS service context. 


Burn, M., Tully, L. A., Jiang, Y., Piotrowska, P. J., Collins, D. A. J., Sargeant, K., ... & Anderson, V. (2019). Evaluating Practitioner Training to Improve Competencies and Organizational Practices for Engaging Fathers in Parenting Interventions. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 50(2), 230-244. 

Tully, L. A., Collins, D. A., Piotrowska, P. J., Mairet, K. S., Hawes, D. J., Moul, C., ... & Dadds, M. R. (2018). Examining practitioner competencies, organizational support and barriers to engaging fathers in parenting interventions. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 49(1), 109-122. 

2. Social-economic and health service determinants of service utilisation. The 'treatment gap' represents the difference between the demand and supply for mental health services. The research is interested in access to and service utilisation of mental health care in this context, especially among children and young people.

Example references:

Harrison, M. E., McKay, M. M., & Bannon, W. M. (2004). Inner-city child mental health service use: The real question is why youth and families do not use services. Community mental health journal, 40(2), 119-131.

Zimmerman, F. J. (2005). Social and economic determinants of disparities in professional help‐seeking for child mental health problems: Evidence from a national sample. Health services research, 40(5p1), 1514-1533.

3. Stage-based care in mental health.  There is ongoing need for innovation in service delivery to ensure mental health services deliver high-quality treatment and prevention in the population. This research proposes the adoption of ‘staged care’ as a population health-oriented service delivery model for packages of integrated services to ensure primary aims of treatment and secondary prevention are achieved. The work involves operationalising various aspects of staged care.

Example reference:

Hickie, I. B., Scott, E. M., Cross, S. P., Iorfino, F., Davenport, T. A., Guastella, A. J., ... & Hermens, D. F. (2019). Right care, first time: a highly personalised and measurement‐based care model to manage youth mental health. Medical Journal of Australia, 211, S3-S46.

Sawrikar, V., Stewart, E., LaMonica, H., Iorfino, F., Davenport, T., Cross, S., Scott, E., Naismith, S., Mowszowski, L., Guastella, A. & Hickie, I. (Accepted/In Press). Using staged care to get people with common affective disorders right care first time. Psychiatric Services.

4. Service innovation for tackling social inequality in mental health care. The purpose of the project is to discover and map available national mental health care dataset for examining the impacts of COVID on social inequality in mental health care. 

No example references

View all 10 publications on Research Explorer