Stella Chan (DPhil, DClinPsy, CPsychol, FBPsS)

Reader in Clinical Psychology


I grew up in a fire station because my father was a fireman. Upon completing my first degree in Psychology in Hong Kong, I came to Britain for my postgraduate studies. Between 2003 and 2008 I was at the University of Oxford, where I obtained a MSc in Research Methods in Psychology (supervised by Prof Mark Williams), followed by a DPhil in Experimental Psychology at the Psychopharmacology and Emotion Research Laboratory (supervised by Prof Catherine Harmer). In 2007-8, I was College Lecturer in Psychology at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford, where I taught and provided pastoral care for undergraduate students. After that, I held two brief postdoctoral research positions at the Institute of Psychiatry and University of Cambridge. Between 2009 and 2012, I undertook a professional doctorate  in Clinical Psychology and qualified as clinical psychologist. In 2012, I moved to the University of Edinburgh to start my new appointment as a Chancellor's Fellow. I am currently Lecturer in Clinical Psychology. I am also honorary clinical psychologist at NHS Lothian Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, as well as Co-Chair of The Royal Society of Edinburgh's Young Academy of Scotland. Outside work, I am a keen life member of the National Trust and enjoy being inspired by beautiful landscapes and historical places.


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2009-2012         Professional Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, University of East Anglia, UK

2004-2008         DPhil (PhD) in Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, UK

2003-2004         MSc in Research Methods in Psychology (Distinction), University of Oxford, UK

1999-2003         BSSc in Psychology, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

2001-2002         International study programme as HSBC Scholar, University of Chicago, USA

Professional Registration

2013-                Registered Clinical Psychologist with the Health & Care Professions Council

Undergraduate teaching

  • MA Psychology (Hons) - Clinical Psychological Problems in Context
  • MA Health, Science and Society (Hons) - Psychological Perspectives on Health and Care

Postgraduate teaching

  • MSc in Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Psychological Practice - Parenting: Theory and Practice; dissertation supervision
  • MSc  Psychological of Mental Health (Conversion) - Clinical Psychological Problems in Context; dissertation supervision
  • PhD / MSc by Research
  • Doctoral Programme in Clinical Psychology - thesis supervision

The most memorable of my teaching experiences was the creation and delivery of the very innovative teaching approach – Massive Open Online Course (MOOC): The Clinical Psychology of Children and Young People. This was run for two years (2014, 2015) and has recently been converted to ‘on demand’. We have engaged >88,000 learners from >190 countries.

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Current PhD students supervised


  • Eilidh Smith: Emotional Processing Biases and Low Mood in Adolescents (Principal Supervisor)
  • Somia Imran: Secondary Attachment and Mental Health in Adolescents - Cross-cultural Study in Pakistan and UK (Principal Supervisor)
  • Antonia Klases: Self-Compassion and Mental Health in Adolescents (Principal Supervisor)
  • IIayda Turk: Attentional Biases and Anxiety in Children and Adolescents (Co- Supervisor)
  • Karim Mitha: Faith identity as mediating the response of acculturative stress and psychopathology amongst British Muslims (Co-Supervisor)
  • Yuqing Yang: Cross-cultural Adaptation and Validation of the Core Psychometric Instruments Used in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): Assessing the Validity and Reliability of ACT Measures in the Chinese Populations (Second Supervisor)
  • Jingni Ma:

    Community-Based Interventions to Enhance Wellbeing via Facilitation of Present-Moment Awareness and Valued Living (Second Supervisor)

Doctorate in Clinical Psychology

  • Caroline Jones: Self-compassion in carers of older adults with a diagnosis of dementia.
  • Vera Schroeter: The mental wellbeing of parents with chronically ill children: testing the accessibility and feasibility of an online intervention to improve mental health and quality of life.
  • Kerry Robson: Self-compassion and substance use.


Past PhD students supervised


  • Lauren Navrady: Quantifying psychological resilience and elucidating its mechanisms using multivariate modelling (Second Supervisor)
  • Joao Santos: Voluntary and Involuntary Mental Time Travels in Depression: Characteristics and Mechanisms (Co-Supervisor)
  • Ho Nam Cheung: Depression among pregnant women in China (Co-Supervisor)
  • Sonia Madrid: Interpersonal Functioning in Bipolar Disorder (Second Supervisor)
  • Sabahat Haqqani: Self harming behaviours in adolecence a cross cultural perspective (Second Supervisor)
  • Amna Khalid: Depression in adolescence a cross culteral perspective (Second Supervisor)

Doctorate in Clinical Psychology

  • Julie Graham: Does self-compassion or self-esteem mediate the relationship between attachment and depression and/or anxiety in a clinical adolescent population?
  • Katie Davis: Self-compassion in the emergency services in relation to presentation of symptoms of trauma
  • Kim Campbell: Exploring the role of Self-Compassion and Perfectionism in the prediction of Psychological Distress, Stress Reactivity and Psychological Well-Being
  • Kate Mackintosh: The relationship between self-compassion, attachment and interpersonal problems in patients attending an adult psychological therapies service
  • Ciara Gill: The relationship between self-compassion and social anxiety in adolescents
  • Liane Scarlett: Fears of falling in adults over 65

Research summary

As a broad outline, my research seeks to build a holistic biopsychosocial model to understand vulnerability and resilience to depression, with the ultimate goal to improve prevention and early intervention strategies.  Much of my work involves scientific investigations into the basic psychosocial and neural-cognitive mechanisms underpinning our emotional experiences; hence my research spans across the disciplines of Clinical Psychology, Neuroscience, and Psychiatry.

Our Centre for Applied Developmental Psychology has a specific focus on applying developmental psychological models to understand mental helth and wellbeing; my specific research expertise lies in adolescent depression. Adolescence is a tricky developmental stage; it is the time when we see an alarming increase in emotional difficulties, while rapid neural-cognitive maturation also offers hope that young people may have greater capacity to build resilience. My work focuses on examining how young people at risk of depression process emotional information across attention, interpretation and memory, using both behavioural and brain imaging experiments.

I currently leading as Principal Investigator two Wellcome Trust funded projects developing new digital tools for assessing cognitive biases in adolescents with low mood, as well as establishing feasibility of conducting a future longitudinal study on adolescent depression.

I am also part of the multidisciplinary teams collaborating on a number of Scottish cohort longitudinal studies, including the Scottish Bipolar Family Study, the Generation Scotland Study, and the Stratifying Resilience and Depression Longitudinally (STRADL) Study. You can watch our video on the Wellcome Trust funded STRADL project examining risk and resilience to depression here

I am also interested in the role of culture in the development of depression and mental health difficulties. Funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, I have built an international collaboration partnership with one of China's State Neuroscience Laboratories based at the University of Hong Kong. I have also hosted collaboration visits from scholars in Spain and Pakistan. I have supervised PhD projects looking at depression across countries and cultural groups, including China, Pakistan, Portugal.

My recent research interests also expand into the role of self-compassion in psychopathology. Amongst my many research projects, I am particularly excited about our Project Soothe. This is a unique project combining research and public engagement, inviting people from the general public to send in images that make them feel soothed. Please look up our website and take part in it!


Knowledge exchange

  • As an Honorary Clinical Psychologist in NHS Lothian CAMHS, I remain clinically active. I led a series of Knowledge Exchange Project in partnership with The City of Edinburgh Council and NHS Lothian CAMHS to engage educational professionals and professionals working in support services for young people. I am very keen in developing knowledge exchange and public engagement activities.
  • I have instigated and led Project Soothe, a hybrid research and public engagement project, which has attracted major media coverage including The Scotsman, Edinburgh Evening News and STV News. Follow us on Twitter @ProjectSoothe
  • I am leading the Knowledge Exchange initiatives of the Wellcome Trust funded STRADL project (PI: Prof Andrew McIntosh), successfully delivered a public engagement event in the Midlothian Science Festival 2016 ‘Untangling Resilience to Depression’. Our public engagement video also has >500 online views.
  • I am part of the team in The Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Young Academy of Scotland maintaining a blog Researching The Headlines, which aims to help the general public to understand how research findings are portrayed (or sometimes mis-represented) by media. I am one of the judges for British Academy funded Rewrite the Headlines competition aiming to boost children’s understanding of how research findings could be misrepresented by media.
  • I gave an expert interview to South China Morning Post Young Post.
  • I was selected through a highly competitive process for the University of Edinburgh’s MediaTalent@Ed programme.
  • I was part of the core team in the Pinkie Resilience Project working in partnership with a primary school in East Lothian to develop strategies to boost psychological resilience.
  • I am part of an intercollegiate team that produced a film called Beyond Discipline that was featured in UNESCO World Science Day 2016.

Affiliated research centres

Research activities

View all 7 activities on Research Explorer

Current project grants

As Principal Investigator

2017 Mental Health Research UK Children and Young People PhD Scholarship (supervisor-led)
In Search of bio-psycho-social markers for the recurrence of adolescent depression.

2017 University of Edinburgh CCACE Development Award (as Co-PI)
Divergence of biological ageing trajectories in adolescent depression: A pilot study of saliva-based measures (Co-PI: Heather Whalley, Toni Clarke)

2016 Wellcome Trust Seeds Award in Science.
In Search of Vulnerability Mechanisms for Adolescent Depression (Collaborators: Heather Whalley, Andrew McIntosh)

2016 British Academy / Leverhulme Trust Small Research Grant
Project Soothe: A Proof-of-Concept Study Developing Soothing Images for Use in Psychotherapy (Co-I: Matthias Schwannauer; Collaborator: Fiona Ashworth)

2016 University of Edinburgh CAHSS Knowledge Exchange Fund,
Project Soothe (Co-I: Matthias Schwannauer)

2015 Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund
In Search of Vulnerability Markers for Clinical Depression: Development of Efficient Screening Tools (Co-I: Heather Whalley)

2015 British Psychological Society Research Seminars Competition Award
Adolescent depression: building a holistic theoretical model to improve clinical intervention (Co-I's: Shirley Reynolds, Laura Pass, Andrew Gumley)

As Co-Investigator

2017 MRC Mental Health Data Pathfinder Grant
Leveraging routinely collected and linked research data to study the causes and consequences of common mental disorders (PI: Andrew McIntosh)

2016 University of Edinburgh Innovation Initiative Grant
Too close to home? Student support in mental health teaching (PI: Katie Cebula)

2016 The Scottish Crucible Collaborative Project Grant
Crowd sourcing the aural identifies of places by evolutionary optimisation (PI: Alexander Brownlee)

2016 University of Edinburgh CAHSS Challenge Investment Fund
The dynamic flow of research-based information: The case of mental health treatments for young people (PI: Ken Fordyce)

Past project grants

As Principal Investigator

2015 Royal Society of Edinburgh Research Visitors to Scotland Grant
Host collaboration visit of M J Portella, Institut d’Investigació Biomèdica - Sant Pau, Spain

2015 Royal Society of Edinburgh Research Visitor to Scotland Grant
Host collaboration visit of Amna Khalid, Fatima Jinnah Women University, Pakistan

2014 University of Edinburgh Moray Endowment Fund
Cognitive Characteristics of Adolescent Depression (Collaborator: Shirley Reynolds)

2014 University of Edinburgh CAHSS Challenge Investment Fund
A Bank of Visual Images Created for and Created by the Public: An Innovative Research Project (Collaborators: Matthias Schwannauer, Fiona Ashworth)

2014 University of Edinburgh CAHSS Knowledge Exchange Grant
Engaging Local Schools in Research: Building a Novel and Essential Knowledge Exchange Network

2013 University of Edinburgh CAHSS Challenge Investment Fund
Cross-Cultural Differences in Emotional Processing between the UK and Chinese Depressed Patients – A Pilot Study (Collaborator: Tatia Lee)

2013 Royal Society of Edinburgh International Programme Award
Collaboration Visit to State Laboratory of Neuropsychology, University of Hong Kong, China

2012 University of Edinburgh Moray Endowment Fund
Developing Cognitive Bias Modification as a Preventive Measure for Adolescents at Risk for Depression: A Pilot Study

As Co-Investigator

2015 University of Edinburgh CHSS Stramash
Upstream / Downstream: Young people, mental wellbeing and the dynamic flow of evidence-based information (PI: Angus MacBeth)

2015 Scottish Universities Insights Institute Knowledge Exchange Grant
The Pinkie Resilience Project: Enhancing Equality, Boosting Well-Being and Realising Potential in Scottish Schools (PI: Matt Smith)

2015 University of Edinburgh Academic Networking Fund
Building Bridges Between University of Edinburgh Schools (PI: A Kagansky)

View all 27 publications on Research Explorer

Invited Keynote Speakers: International Conference on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology 2017; Scottish Mental Health Research Network Annual Scientific Meeting 2015; in addition to 15 other invitations to speak in academic and non-academic institutions including 3 overseas universities.

Royal Society of Edinburgh's Young Academy of Scotland (RSE YAS): I was elected member in 2014, subsequently appointed Co-Chair in 2015, Member of International Committee at RSE, Trustee of RSE Scotland SCIO, and represented RSE at Voice of the Future 2016 in the UK Parliament. I was also featured in the Royal Society of Edinburgh Young Academy of Scotland’s Academic Women Now: Experiences of Mid-Career Academic Women in Scotland.

New Researcher Excellence Award by British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies 2009, in recognition of contribution translating basic scientific research to practice.

Scottish Crucible: Selected for this prestigious leadership programme for early career researchers in 2016, subsequently appointed to management committee of Scottish Crucible 2017.

British Psychological Society: Elected Fellow of BPS, BPS Public Engagement and Media Award 2017