Dr Mark Hoelterhoff (PhD)

Lecturer in Clinical Psychology

  • Centre for Data Culture and Society
  • Edinburgh Futures Institute
  • Curriculum Transformation Board

Contact details



School of Health in Social Science
Medical School, Doorway 6
Teviot Place

Post code


  • Please contact via email


I have been in the field of mental well-being for over 25 years. As a counselling psychologist, my experience includes working alongside people in both private practise and third sector organisations around the world. I’ve provided psychoeducation, individual and family psychotherapy to clients who have wide-ranging experiences. I tend to focus on agentic strengths-based approaches for engaging protective factors to facilitate resilience in the face of adversity. My clinical, teaching and research focus is on thriving through intrapersonal development and interpersonal transformation. I base my work on positive psychology to enable people to find meaningful purpose, develop potential and lead fulfilling lives. In addition to health care settings, I’ve worked at several higher education institutions before coming to the University of Edinburgh.


PhD Psychology at University of Plymouth

MA Psychology at Alliant University

MA Counselling Psychology at Trinity International University

BA Psychology at University of Dayton

Responsibilities & affiliations

British Psychological Society Chartered Psychologist

Health and Care Professioal Council Registered Practitioner Psychologist (Counselling Psychology)

Higher Education Academy Senior Fellow

Undergraduate teaching

Psychological Therapies for the BSc in Psychology

Postgraduate teaching

Learning and Resilience for Edinburgh Futures Institute

Psychological Therapies for the MSc in Psychology of Mental Health

Trauma Across the Lifespan for the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I am unable to accept any new PhD students due to a secondment. However, there is information/application guidance here https://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/postgraduate/degrees/index.php?r=site/view&id=397 

Research summary

I am interested in flourishing and thriving through intrapersonal development and inter-personal transformation. Specifically, how can we promote thriving using data-driven agentic strengths-based education strategies among young people at risk of vulnerability in a global context? This includes students and new career professionals in demanding environments and young people in low and middle-income countries/communities (LMIC).

  • Exploring the interplay of learning and resilience through data-driven intrapersonal development
  • Applying intrapersonal assets to real-world interpersonal and societal issues
  • Learning how individual resilience can contribute to thriving academic communities
  • Identifying and recognising one's own purpose, values and strengths, and use these to develop strategies for intra-personal and inter-personal transformation

My research interests are in examining these asset-based approaches to support personal flexibility and adaptability in the hopes this will lead to creative solutions to global issues. By applying  “self-data” to intra-personal development can we help people to recognise their capacity for agency while empowering organisations and communities to foster greater resilience?

I will supervise and collaborate with projects dealing with...

  • Promoting psychological capital (hope, efficacy, optimism, resilience) to encourage thriving in the academic community; both students and staff.
  • Developing flourishing and preventing languishing in higher education students through agentic strengths-based strategies.
  • Positive neuroscience; understanding the underlying brain mechanisms for PERMA (Positive Emotion, Engagement, Positive Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishments).

Before contacting me about supervision, please review the PhD application information/application guidance  https://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/postgraduate/degrees/index.php?r=site/view&id=397

Recent research projects

  1. Flourishing in the academic community; the role of hope, efficacy, optimism, resilience (HERO) in intra-personal and inter-personal transformation
  2. Understanding the role of PsyCap as a protective factor that enables positive re-settlement and thriving among refugees.
  3. The role of resilience and meaningful engagement in careers with high burn-out.
  4. Agentic protective factors that contribute to greater posttraumatic growth.
  5. Well-being literacy for young people in low and middle-income countries/communities (LMIC).

Current research interests

I am the research cluster lead for Data-Driven Thriving in the Academic Community as part of the Centre for Data, Culture and Society. We aim to provide leadership and empower capacity for thriving in academic communities by developing data-driven asset-based education strategies in a global context for societal transformation. We aim to foster interdisciplinary research collaboration and networking among academic, support and professional services to promote positive education and well-being in the academic community. This research cluster will: 1. Develop projects that are committed to openness in research, inclusivity and representative of the entire academic community 2. Explore the interplay of well-being, learning and resilience in the higher education curriculum through data-driven action-orientated research 3. Strategise educational programmes that apply intrapersonal assets to real-world interpersonal and societal issues 4. Create a network of academic, support and professional services leaders committed to fostering evidence-based strategies of resilience in tertiary education 5. Innovate future-facing, digital technologies aimed at supporting well-being in curricular and extra-curricular activities

Knowledge exchange

I founded THRIVE which seeks to network researchers across higher education who are exploring student, staff and academic community wellbeing. This network is now open to members across the higher education and wellbeing sector. For more information please contact cdcs@ed.ac.uk or read more at https://www.cdcs.ed.ac.uk/research-clusters/data-driven-thriving-academic-community

Past project grants

2020-2021 Principal’s Teaching Award Scheme (£14,931) – Regular Grant Award (PI)
Project Title: Personal Values in Postgraduate University Student Engagement: a Creative Participatory Action Research Project

2020 (£15,000) Cara Syria Programme Larger Grant
Project title: The effect of electricity shortage on social well-being in people living in northern Syria (Principal Investigator).

2018-2020. Erasmus+ KA2 – Strategic partnership for innovation in the adult field
Project: Support well-being among potential entrepreneurs with a migrant/refugee background to start and develop business initiatives in the Blue Growth economy on behalf of the Scottish Islands Federation (Consultant).

2019 (£80,500) College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences SFC Official Development Assistance Global Challenges Internal Fund
Project Title: Leadership in Ethics, Integrity and Research Conduct in Complex LMIC-UK partnership projects (Co-Investigator).

2019 (£50,000) College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences SFC Official Development Assistance Global Challenges Internal Fund
Project Title: Strong minds, strong lives: Building enduring partnerships through co-design of a rural mental health service and research strategy in Malawi (Co-Investigator).

2018 (£14,981) The Global Academies and Edinburgh Global Research and Partnership Fund (LMIC).
Project: Growing strong kids in Malawi: A collaborative needs analysis between a Scottish research team and MamaLita School in Namwera, Malawi (Co-Investigator).

2018 (£9123). The College of Radiographers
Project: Studying resilience among newly qualified radiographers (Co-Investigator).

2016 (£5,000) University of Cumbria Research and Development Funding
Project: Exploring the role of social capital in the Storm Desmond flood (Co-Investigator).

2012 (£1200) University of Cumbria Research and Development Funding
Project: The impact of sustainable development activities on health and well-being in a Senegalese population (Principal Investigator).

2005-2010 (£21,075) University of Plymouth PhD Scholarship funding

2006 ($25,000) Lions Club International Start Up Grant
Project: Lions Quest well-being pilot programme for Lithuanian primary school children (Co-Investigator).

View all 28 publications on Research Explorer

Invited speaker