Simona Di Folco

Postdoctoral Fellow in Clinical Psychology


I am a clinical developmental psychologist with an active research interest in child development, health, and education.  I am active in the area of the importance of social relations, especially attachment relationships, for learning and health. I am currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Health in Social Science, at the University of Edinburgh, in the area of Clinical Psychology.

In 2007 I received a BSc in Science and Psychological Techniques for clinical assessment and counselling at Sapienza, University of Rome, Italy. During the internship at the Child Neuropsychiatric Unit, I developed a deep interest in methodology and assessment of parent-child attachment relationships, thus I decided to attend short courses at the Anna Freud Center to gain skills for the assessment of attachment in infancy and middle childhood.

I then applied for the MSc program in Clinical and Dynamic Psychology for Children, Adolescents, and Families, and two years later, in 2009 I graduated. During these two years, I had the opportunity to learn skills of developmental psychopathology and clinical assessment with families and children and to join ongoing research about how attachment to parents may contribute to the perception of well-being and illness in school-aged children. My thesis was based on this study and was then recognized as the best contribution to a prize in memory of the Italian psychiatrist Sante de Sanctis.

After the registration exam as a chartered psychologist in 2010, I applied for the Ph.D. in Dynamic, Clinical, and Developmental Psychology at Sapienza University in Rome and was awarded a fully funded scholarship.

Before the Ph.D. viva, I joined Lund University, first as a visiting scholar and then as a Research Assistant, working in the Department of Psychology and within the area of Developmental Psychology.

I obtained my Ph.D. in 2014, working on a project about the contribution of parental attachment to children’s development of emotional competence and self-perception in middle childhood.

During the Ph.D. program, I had the opportunity to be trained in the administration and coding of widely known methods to assess parent-child attachment relationships in the lifespan: the Strange Situation Procedure, The Manchester Child Attachment Story Task, the Story Stem Assessment Profile, the Child Attachment Interview, the Adult Attachment Interview, and the Reaction to Diagnosis Interview.

In 2014 I joined the University of Cagliari (Italy) as a Postdoctoral Fellow to work on a longitudinal project about the prevention of maternal post-partum depression in first-time expectant parents.

During my research experience, I have worked with children in clinical and nonclinical samples (late adopted children and children suffering from idiopathic epilepsy) and with different age groups: from early infancy to middle childhood and adolescence and with parents and couples in transition to parenthood (both biological and adoptive parenthood) and those coping with the elaboration of the diagnosis of having a child affected by a medical problem, as epilepsy.

In addition to the research background, I trained as a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist with a particular interest and focus on working with children and young people who experienced trauma and/or who live in care settings.


Ph.D. Dynamic, Clinical, and Developmental Psychology, Excellent with honors

Department of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology, Faculty of Medicine and Psychology, Sapienza, University of Rome Rome (Italy), 2014/06/26

Recipient of a Full Funded Scholarship (1st November 2010-31st  October 2013) in Dynamic Clinical and Developmental Psychology, Department of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology, Faculty of Medicine and Psychology, “Sapienza”, University of Rome

MASTER OF SCIENCE DEGREE in Dynamic and Clinical Psychology for Infancy, Adolescence, and Family, magna cum laude

Faculty of Psychology, Sapienza, University of Rome, Rome (Italy), 2009/07/02

BACHELOR OF SCIENCE DEGREE in Science and Psychological Techniques for clinical assessment and counseling,  magna cum laude

Faculty of Psychology 1, Sapienza, University of Rome Rome (Italy), 2007/02/28

VISITING Ph.D. Developmental Psychology, Lund University, Department of Psychology Lund, Sweden, 5th  September 2013-31st December 2013

Supervisor: Professor Elia Psouni, Associate Professor of Developmental Psychology and Psychobiology.



  • Brazelton Newborn Behavioral Observation, Brazelton Centre UK, 20th and 21st of July 2021.
  • Administration and coding training for the Reaction to Diagnosis Interview (RDI), held by Prof. Robert Marvin, Pre-conference, 6th International Attachment Conference IAC, Pavia, 27th -29th August 2013.
  • Administration and coding training for the Conflict in the Interparental System Coding Scale (Cummings et al., 2006), held by Kathleen Patricia McCoy, Ph.D. at the University of Rome “Sapienza”.
  • Administration and coding training for the Secure Base Script Test (Psouni, Apetroaia, 2009), held at the University of Lund, Sweden, by Professor Elia Psouni, 20th -21st March 2012.
  • Administration and coding training for the Strange Situation, held by Professor Judith Solomon at the Anna Freud Centre, London (UK),12th -21st  July 2010.
  • Administration and coding training for the Attachment Interview (Main, Goldwyn, 1985), held by Professor Nino Dazzi and Professor Deborah Jacobvitz at the L. U. M. S. A. University, Rome,9th -20th June 2009.
  • Administration and coding training for the Manchester Child Attachment Story Task MCAST (Green et al., 2000), held by Professor Jonathan Green at the University of Manchester, UK, 14th -16th April 2009.
  • Administration and coding training for the Story Stem Assessment Profile (SSAP) (Hodges, Hillman, Steele, 2007), held by Jill Hodges at the Anna Freud Centre, London, UK, October 2007- March 2008.
  • Administration and coding training for the Child Attachment Interview (CAI) (Shmueli-Goetz, Target, Fonagy, Datta, 2004), held by Yael-Shmueli Goetz at the Anna Freud Centre, London, UK,28th November- 1st  December 2005.


  • Associate Member of the AIP (Italian Association of Psychology) since 2011, Division of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology.
  • Professional Membership as Chartered Psychologist, Ordine degli Psicologi del Lazio (Italy) since the 1st of March 2010 to present (Registration Number 17537).
  • MBACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy 392068)


Responsibilities & affiliations

Since May 16th, 2018 Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy UK for supporting teaching and learning.

Postgraduate teaching

Tutor- Trauma and Resilience in a Developmental Context, 2016-2017, 2017-2018, and 2018-2019

Tutor- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Children and Young People - Supervised Practice, 2016-2017, 2017-2018, and 2018-2019

Current project grants

2016- What does ‘terrorism’ mean to young people? A qualitative art project. University of Edinburgh, Innovation Initiative Grant, Autumn 2016. PI: Simona Di Folco, Co-PI: Karen Cooper. Fundings awarded: £3.404,80.

Past project grants

• Travel GRANT, Italian Association of Psychology (AIP) to attend the WAIMH (Edinburgh 2014). Euros 2.000,00.
• Three years funded PhD fellowship (1st November 2010-31st October 2013) in Dynamic Clinical and Developmental Psychology, Department of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology, Faculty of Medicine and Psychology, “Sapienza”, University of Rome.

View all 31 publications on Research Explorer

  • "Continuità vs. discontinuità dell'attaccamento nella transizione alla seconda infanzia: uno studio longitudinale" (Continuity vs. discontinuity of attachment in transition to middle childhood: a longitudinal study) first ex aequo prize funded by the Trust Saulo Sirigatti for studies and research in psychology for the best contribution presented at the XVI National Congress of the Italian Association of Psychology (AIP), Division of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology, Pisa, Italy,  September 19th-21st, 2014. Euros 500,00.
  • Winner of the VII edition of the scientific award in Psychology and Psychiatry “Sante de Sanctis”2010, for the Division “dissertations”, “Opera Sante de Sanctis Onlus”, 2nd October 2010, Parrano (Tr), Italy. Euros 1,000.

2016-Volunteer Research Assistant, HarmonyChoir Project, University of Edinburgh, PI: Liesbeth Tip. 

Choir and Stigma- Investigating how singing in a choir could reduce mental health stigma. Project funded by the Innovation Initiative Grant, Autumn 2015.