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Oxford cognitive approaches to psychosis (O-CAP) logo.  A link for the main o-cap page is provided below.

Bryony Sheaves

DPhil, DClinPsy, BSc, CPsychol

Research Clinical Psychologist

The overall aim of my research is to improve psychological treatments for people experiencing severe mental health problems, with particular focus on distressing voices and sleep disruption. 

My doctoral fellowship developed a new cognitive framework to explain why derogatory and threatening voices can be so believable and difficult to ignore. My current NIHR development and skills enhancement award will use this framework and take the first steps in designing a cognitive behavioural treatment for people distressed by derogatory and threatening voices. 

Much of my work to date has focused on the association between sleep disturbance and psychotic experiences, working as part of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute (SCNi). I have worked on a range of studies which have demonstrated that sleep disruption is one contributory cause of mental health problems, including paranoia and hallucinatory experiences (e.g. the OASIS trial). Applying this knowledge to an inpatient setting, I have conducted a pilot randomised controlled trial of insomnia treatment on an acute ward (OWLS), which showed that it is possible to treat insomnia, and there are promising reductions in the length of inpatient admission as a result of treatment. One common but under-recognised cause of sleep disruption for people experiencing severe mental health problems is nightmares. Our research has highlighted novel psychological mechanisms associated with the occurrence of nightmares and I have used this to inform a brief CBT treatment for nightmares for patients experiencing high levels of paranoia (The Nightmare Intervention Study, NIteS).  

I am committed to sharing the learnings from our research with the general public. For example we have created an animation on the challenges and opportunities of being around people whilst hearing derogatory and threatening voices.  My hope is that it is a tool that aids the understanding of, and conversations about voice hearing experiences.

I am an HCPC registered Clinical Psychologist. I completed by DPhil at the University of Oxford and  clinical training at the Institute of Psychiatry.  

Coping with voices: being with people

Hearing voices can come in many forms – some voices are friendly, helpful, insightful and inspiring whilst others are scary, critical or commanding. This animation shares the stories of people who hear one type of voices: those which threaten them or criticise them. Our hope is that this animation inspires more conversations about voices, because nobody should be hearing nasty voices alone.