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Dr Linda Corbally

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I obtained an MA in Psychology from the University of Dundee in 1999 and an MSc in Health Psychology from the University of Bath in 2002. Following working in assistant psychologist roles with older adults and people with learning disabilities, I began the Counselling Psychology doctorate at Teesside University, and completed in 2009. Following qualifying, I worked in mental and physical health, primarily in NHS settings. I completed additional training in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, and Mindfulness-Base Interventions. Prior to coming to Sunderland, I worked as an associate lecturer at The Open University. My clinical experience is in primary, secondary, and tertiary healthcare services, including IAPT, pain management, obstetrics and gynaecology, and veterans.

I'm originally from Ireland, but have made my home in the north east. I have personally found that being physically active and outdoors is an important part of wellbeing, so I get to the lakes and coast regularly. I find rock climbing, surfing, and running outdoors to be naturally mindful activities, and have developed a research interest in how outdoor sports affect resilience and mental health. I have published in the area of application of mindfulness in running and mindfulness and pregnancy. 

In working in physical health settings, I focused on loss and trauma, the role of relationships, and meaning-making. My doctoral research used an IPA approach to understanding therapist's experience of working with clients with eating disorders. I have continued to build experience in the diversity of qualitative research methods.

Teaching and supervision

I teach across undergraduate and postgraduate Psychology courses.

Research interests for potential research students

I have a research interest in the relationship between outdoor sports, mental health, wellbeing, and resilience. This has specifically focused on resilience, coping strategies, mindfulness, and running. I’m also interested in mental health in pregnancy and childbirth. I have specifically focused on mindfulness in the perinatal period, but I am open to supervising other aspects of pregnancy, childbirth, and adjustment to parenthood.

I am open to research in student engagement in higher education, specifically mindfulness and student engagement in higher education.


Resilience and outdoor sports

Resilience is an important part of managing setbacks and challenges in outdoor sports. Athletes are exposed to various psychological and physiological stressors, such as losing matches and physical duress. Qualitative interviews can be used to understand the thoughts and beliefs of athletes who have successfully overcome adversity, and I am actively using this approach in fell running. Understanding the interaction between outdoor sports and resilience can inform our understanding of how athletes manage stress. Qualitative approaches in this area can also deepen our understanding of the role of outdoor spaces and in the wellbeing of athletes.

  • Siefken, K., Junge, A., & Laemmle, L. (2019). How Does Sport Affect Mental Health? An Investigation into the Relationship of Leisure-Time Physical Activity with Depression and Anxiety. Human Movement, 20(1), 62–74.

Mindfulness and pregnancy and mental health

Pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period are a time of significant adjustment for women and their partners, with substantial social, psychological, and physiological changes. As a major transition it can be a time of immense joy and a time of immense challenge, with women being vulnerable to mental health issues at this time (Howard and Khalifeh, 2020). Depression, anxiety, stress, and sleep complaints tend to increase in perinatal women (Mahendran et al., 2019Shorey et al., 2018Dennis et al., 2017, Falah-Hassani et al., 2017Stone et al., 2015, Sedov et al., 2018Yang et al., 2020).

Within the UK, perinatal mortality disproportionately impacts Black, Asian and minority ethnic women, and in particular migrant women. Although the explanation for this remains unclear, it is thought to be multi-dimensional. Improving perinatal mortality is reliant upon raising awareness of stillbirth and its associated risk factors, as well as improving maternity services (Stacey, 2021). Research has identified stress as an important factor affecting preterm birth and infant mortality in Black women (Collins et al., 2004; Dominguez, 2011). Braveman et al, (2017) found that chronic worry about racism and discrimination is related to preterm birth and that African–American women in higher socioeconomic categories have higher levels of chronic worry. Collins et al (2021) found that Perinatal support professionals played a key role in easing pregnant Black women’s transitions to motherhood, for both first-time and mothers welcoming an additional baby through reducing uncertainty, social isolation, and stress, providing women with resources, and increasing knowledge and skills. There is scope for exploring the experience of the perinatal period, including stressors, perceived support and engagement with NHS services. It would also be interesting to explore the role of culture and/or community on the experience of pregnancy.

Mindfulness in higher education

Mindfulness training has been widely used as a mental health strategy with university students (Kuyken et al., 2017). Lancet paper found MBIs with university students improve distress and state anxiety compared with active control groups. Stress and Mindfulness can be assessed through anonymous online surveys using measures such as the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire and the Perceived Stress Scale, with Maher (2021) finding a significant negative correlation between students’ scores on these measures. The effects of the Headspace Mindfulness App with students also found that participants who more frequently used the app reported improvements in psychological distress and college adjustment (Flett et al, 2020). There has been some recent research interest in the interaction between mindfulness and academic performance. Azila-Gbettor et al (2021) found that hope and mindfulness positively predict student academic, peer and intellectual engagements. They also found that mindfulness positively mediated the effect of hope on academic, peer and intellectual engagements. The interaction between mindfulness and academic achievement has also been explored by Vorontsova-Wenger et al (2021), finding that students’ mindfulness facets were positively correlated with academic performance. Boo et al (2020) focused on students' perceptions of the impact of mindfulness on their academic performance, concluding that differences in students' psychological distress and study habits may determine the differing initial impact of mindfulness on academic performance. Tunney et al (2018) have used Thematic Analysis to explore the experience of children’s experience of face-to-face and technology-delivered mindfulness, with themes of relaxation, engagement, awareness, thinking, practice and directing attention from both arms of focus groups. There has been research into the effectiveness of mindfulness apps but little focus on the experience of adults using these apps.

Relevant publications

  • Qualitative research
  • Mental health and psychological interventions
  • Women's mental health, including pregnancy and the post-natal period
  • Resilience and outdoor sports
  • Applications of Mindfulness-Based interventions

Last updated 28 February 2024