Complex Trauma and Resilience Research Unit (C-TRU)

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A collaboration between The University of Manchester and Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust to help the NHS better recognise, understand and support people who have experienced trauma.

Our ambition is to conduct high-quality and cutting-edge research to improve the recovery, resilience and wellbeing of people who have experienced trauma.

Trauma is a term used to describe several psychological and emotional responses to events that are very stressful, frightening or distressing. These life experiences can happen at any age and, amongst many others, include physical, emotional or sexual abuse, neglect, exposure to war, and loss or separation from a loved one.

While everyone has a different reaction to trauma, in some people it can cause long-lasting difficulties.

Who we are

Established in 2018, we are a team of clinicians, researchers and people with lived experience of distressing life events and mental health difficulties.

We work with a wide range of NHS and voluntary sector services, commissioners and policy makers to design, deliver and maximise the impact of our research.

Meet the team

Filippo Varese (Director)

I am a Clinical Senior Professor in Psychology at The University of Manchester and an Honorary Consultant Clinical Psychologist in Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH).

My research focuses on the impact of adverse life experiences on the risk of developing severe mental difficulties and the psychological mechanisms that might account for these associations.

My work also includes the development and evaluation of psychological interventions for severe mental health problems and trauma-related difficulties.

I am involved in projects funded by the NIHR looking at the feasibility and efficacy of trauma-focused therapies for people with psychosis and people who are at ultra-high risk for psychosis, the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health and social care key workers, and other aspects related to trauma and complex trauma assessment and support in NHS settings.

View research profile

Sandra Bucci (Co-Director)

I am an NIHR Research Professor and Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Manchester. I am also an Honorary Consultant Clinical Psychologist in GMMH.

My professorship focuses on developing digital care pathways and using digital remote monitoring and intervention methods to improve detection and treatment of severe mental health problems. I am involved in research projects funded by all the major UK research funders. Our current focus is on delivering the CONNECT study. CONNECT is a ground-breaking Wellcome Trust funded study across six UK universities. The aim of the study is to develop and validate a personalised risk prediction algorithm for psychosis relapse. In the future, we hope to be able to use the digital data capture platform we develop in this study to help service users in a timely manner.

I am also interested in understanding the psychological and social causes involved in the development and maintenance of psychotic experiences. Along with Professor Katherine Berry, I am Editor of the British Psychological Society journal Psychology and Psychotherapy, Theory, Research and Practice.

View research profile

Katherine Berry (Co-Director)

I am a Professor in Clinical Psychology at The University of Manchester. My research interests include the role of insecure attachment (a common consequence of adverse life experiences) in those with complex mental health difficulties.

I have carried out extensive research into the psychological and social causes of psychosis and have published a large body of work on attachment theory and therapeutic relationships.

This includes editing three books on attachment theory (Danquah, A. & Berry, K. 2013. Attachment theory and adult mental health: A clinical guide; Berry, K, Bucci, S., & Danquah, A. 2019. Attachment theory in psychosis. Current perspectives and future directions and O’Shaughnessy, R., Berry, K., Dallos, R., & Bateson, K. (2023). Attachment Theory: The Basics. Taylor & Francis.).

My research also focuses on the development, evaluation and delivery of psychological interventions to improve the wellbeing of people with psychosis and severe mental health needs.

Along with Professor Sandra Bucci, I am Editor of the British Psychological Society journal Psychology and Psychotherapy, Theory, Research and Practice. 

View research profile

Eleanor Longden (Co-Director)

I am a lived experience researcher and mental health activist and a previous NIHR Postdoctoral Research Fellow. I currently work as a Service-User Research Manager at the Psychosis Research Unit in GMMH and am an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Manchester.

I draw on my own experiences of recovery from trauma and psychosis to promote person-centred approaches to complex mental health problems that emphasise the lived experience and expertise of service-users.  My research interests are the relationships between voice hearing, trauma, and dissociation, and I have published and lectured internationally on these issues. Along with Dr Charlie Heriot-Maitland, I am the co-author of Relating to Voices Using Compassion Focussed Therapy: A Self-Help Companion, and am currently joint Chief Investigator of the Talking With Voices II trial, in addition to PPI collaborator on the Study of Trauma and Recovery (STAR) trial and the Avatar-Mediated Therapy for Hallucinations Superiority (AMETHYST) trial.

Amanda Larkin (Research Clinical Psychologist)

I am a research clinical psychologist. I support the day to day running of specific projects, as well as providing clinical support.  

I currently work on i-Minds, an NIHR funded feasibility clinical trial of an app based intervention to support young people who have had distressing sexual experiences online; and RESTART, a project looking at the feasibility and acceptability of trauma focussed interventions for people at high risk of developing psychosis.  

My previous clinical work focussed on working on delivering new therapies for people experiencing psychosis, or at risk of developing psychosis or bipolar disorder as part of clinical trials. I have also worked in hospital-based settings with people experiencing complex and enduring mental health difficulties.  

Hannah Ball (Research Clinical Psychologist)

I am a Research Clinical Psychologist in GMMH. I provide clinical and operational support for specific projects at C-TRU, primarily the CONNECT study. CONNECT aims to use digital tools to develop and validate a personalised risk prediction algorithm for psychosis relapse. I am also currently undertaking a NIHR funded PhD at the University of Manchester. My PhD focuses on investigating the factors that influence the implementation of digital innovations in clinical services for people experiencing severe mental health problems.

Previously, I have worked as Therapy Coordinator on a Wellcome Trust funded multi-site research trial investigating the effectiveness of a novel, digitally assisted therapy (AVATAR therapy) for people who hear distressing voices. I have also worked clinically in secondary care mental health services and have delivered training and supervision for NHS clinicians on a range of psychological and psychosocial interventions for people experiencing psychosis.

Kate Allsopp (Research Fellow)

I am a Research Fellow within C-TRU, and I support the day-to-day running of the unit. My research interests include non-diagnostic ways of understanding mental distress, trauma-informed care, psychological interventions for trauma-related difficulties, supporting the psychological wellbeing of health and social care staff, and qualitative research. As a member of the LGBTQI+ community, I am passionate about supporting equity, diversity, and inclusion, with the aim of helping our research to be as accessible and meaningful as possible to people from a diverse range of communities. I am also a Freedom to Speak Up champion within our NHS Trust.

I am currently project manager for the Staff TIME study, which is an interview study exploring how best to support staff working on acute mental health inpatient wards, following distressing and traumatic incidents, which has a particular focus on how to improve support for staff following experiences of racism and other types of discrimination. I am also working with the wider health and care system to inform ways of better supporting health and social care staff more broadly, following the Resilience Hubs Evaluation which explored services set up to support staff affected by their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kim Cartwright (Research Associate)

I am a post-doctoral researcher with C-TRU. I support the day-to-day running of the research unit, including the coordination of our Lived Experience Advisory Panel.

My research interests include the development, evaluation and delivery of psychological interventions to help improve the wellbeing of children and young people, and their families, in particular those affected by trauma. 

Previously, I worked on developing and evaluating parenting support interventions aimed at reducing post-traumatic stress and emotional and behavioural difficulties in children affected by displacement and war. My current work focuses on managing the i-Minds project.

This project aims to develop and evaluate a digital intervention to improve the mental health of young people who have experienced online sexual abuse and help them stay safe on the internet.

Within this project, I am also the patient and public involvement lead which includes setting up and running the young person lived experience advisory panel with whom the intervention will be co-produced.

Alice Newton (Research Assistant)

I am a Research Assistant working within C-TRU on a number of projects. I assist with the day-to-day running of the research unit and the coordination of our Lived Experience Advisory Panel and other patient and public involvement activities relevant to the unit.

Prior to this post, I worked within a substance use treatment facility. My time in that role as a complex case worker was both enlightening and inspiring.

I want to ensure that those who have felt unheard are listened to and feel included, I am passionate about ensuring underrepresented voices get heard.

Peter Panayi (Research Assistant)

I am a senior research assistant within C-TRU, and I support the day-to-day running of the unit, including supervising our research interns. My research interests include psychological interventions for psychosis, trauma-informed care and conceptualising trauma-related difficulties (e.g., identifying complex versus core post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD]).

I am also a PhD student at the University of Manchester, funded by the ESRC supervised by Filippo Varese. My PhD looks at how complex PTSD affects people with psychosis using specialist research methods, including mobile phone and neuroimaging technologies. I am currently in the process of writing up my PhD findings.

I have also worked on clinical trials within the unit (e.g., the Study of Trauma and Recovery testing a trauma-focussed psychosis intervention) and outside the unit (e.g., the Culturally-Adapted Family Intervention study testing a behavioural family intervention for Black Caribbean and Sub-Saharan African families affected by psychosis).

Adele Beinaraviciute (Research Assistant)

I am an Assistant Clinical Research Practitioner for C-TRU as well as the Youth Mental Health Research Unit. I assist with the recruitment of trial participants to RESTART and ChUSE, supporting clinical teams to familiarise themselves with our studies and communicate our research to service users.

Prior to this post, I worked part-time as a research assistant on the TULIPS project, doing qualitative work that was coordinated with my MSc dissertation at the University of Manchester. Before coming to the UK to pursue my postgraduate education and career in mental health research, I worked as an honorary research assistant at the Amsterdam Interdisciplinary Centre for Emotion on a study examining the facial expression of emotion.

Alongside my academic interest in psychology, my own mental health and life experiences have provided me with profound empathy for our study participants. In my work as a first source of information and contact to clinical services and their users, I aim to ensure that their experiences with the research and academic field is as positive and inspiring as possible.


Sarah Sarah (Research Assistant)

I am an Assistant Clinical Research Practitioner working with C-TRU and the Psychosis Research Unit, where my responsibilities include participant recruitment for the CONNECT and Talking with Voices trials. I collaborate closely with clinical teams to ensure they are well-versed in our studies and effectively communicate our research objectives to service users.

Prior to my current role, I worked as an honorary assistant psychologist within a community mental health team while pursuing my MSc in Clinical Psychology. My dissertation explored the causal pathways of anxiety and depression from an existential terror management perspective. My current research interests include pragmatic approaches to trauma informed care and understanding complex PTSD in persecuted minority ethnic groups.

Hannah Allen (Research Intern)

I am a psychology student at the University of Manchester currently working for C-TRU as part of my placement year. I support research trials by assisting with a variety of research tasks. I believe this role will give me valuable experience to aid my pursuit of becoming a clinical psychologist.

I have previously volunteered at the Moodswings mental health charity, which specialises in supporting people with complex mental health difficulties such as mood disorders and psychosis. I supported people both in a 1-to-1 and group setting to improve their mood and aid recovery. This role equipped me with a better understanding of the needs of this population, allowing me to bring useful insight into my current research tasks. In addition, I have previously worked at TIME Specialist supporting children with various neurodiversities and intellectual disabilities.

As well as practical experience, I aim bring more awareness to issue surrounding neurodiversity, trauma and mental health to my role as research assistant. I want to advocate for research to be more inclusive for those who are often underrepresented in mental health research.

Faduma Bana (Research Intern)

I am a placement student from the University of Manchester currently working for C-TRU. My role includes assisting in research projects in a variety of ways. I am also the organiser of a peer support group for University of Manchester placement students who are currently interns under Research and Innovation (R&I).

Previously, I worked as a research intern for the University of Manchester to help improve healthcare services for Manchester residents who have lived experience with sickle cell disease through community engagement. I have also worked as a peer mentor for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds by helping them develop their confidence and resilience. My past roles allowed me to develop valuable skills and experiences that I plan to use during my year at C-TRU.

My goal is to advocate for people from BAME communities who have trauma and make sure are able to access the mental health support they need. I plan to use my voice during my time at C-TRU to help inform research choices that are inclusive of people from these backgrounds.

What we do

We use a wide range of research methods to understand more about the kinds of difficulties that people who experience trauma face, what their needs are and how these could be met.

We use this information to develop new or adapt existing approaches to recognise and treat difficulties resulting from distressing life events, and make sure these approaches are acceptable, usable, safe and sustainable within NHS services.

Distressing and potentially traumatic life events are common among people who experience mental health difficulties. For this reason, a growing number of mental health services are aiming to become more ‘trauma-informed’.

This is an approach to care where health services are designed to better recognise, understand, and respond to the effects of distressing life events.

We want people who experience trauma and mental health difficulties to have better access to and choice over support that meets their needs in a way that is meaningful to them.

We use our research to help improve care planning and provision within NHS services so that people have greater choice over and access to the care they need to pursue their goals and maintain good long-term mental health.

Working with and learning from lived experience

Patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE) is central to our work. We actively involve people with lived experience of distressing life events and mental health difficulties brought about by these experiences in our research.

For example:

  • Eleanor Longden, a lived experience researcher, is a Co-Director of our Unit.
  • Our activities are guided by consultations with a Lived Experience Advisory Panel (LEAP), comprising people with personal experience of distressing life experiences and mental health difficulties and other PPIE groups we have set up for specific research projects.

  • We recently welcomed our Lived Experience Research Assistant to the team to support the Unit in preparing research funding applications, delivering and publicising our projects and assisting with the day-to-day running of the Unit.

Lived experience in research is essential because it acts as a bridge between the academic world and the ‘real world’, provides opportunities for people to shared lived experiences with each other in a safe place, and empowers people with lived experience to influence decision-making in healthcare.

The following sections explain the role of our lived experience advisory panel in their own words.

Introducing the LEAP

We are a group of people with personal experience of distressing life events and mental health difficulties.

Our ultimate aim is to directly influence research aimed at helping to improve NHS services offered to people affected by distressing life experiences and mental health difficulties.

This is to ensure the needs of people experiencing these difficulties are adequately met and their wellbeing and recovery are enhanced. In addition to bringing the voices of lived experience to the day-to-day tasks required, our fundamental role is to work together with the researchers to ensure the Unit’s research is relevant, worthwhile, and rooted in the needs of the community.

We meet bi-monthly to offer essential feedback and advice from a lived experience perspective on research projects at an early stage (such as when the Unit is applying for funding for new projects) to end stage (when the results of research projects are publicised).

Through appropriate training, we are involved as co-applicants and/or researchers on research projects and in data analysis and interpretation of project findings to ensure our views have a genuine and continuing impact throughout the entire research process.

We also guide further lived experience engagement and priority setting activities to identify valued targets for future research conducted by the Unit.

What it means to be a LEAP member

We wanted to get involved and have remained involved because:

  • We want to help research that can ultimately improve services and the wellbeing of people who use services.
  • We believe in the research the Unit is conducting.
  • What we say makes a difference and we can see changes made based on our feedback.
  • The work gives us hope.
How the LEAP influences C-TRU’s research

We contribute significantly to a number of activities including:

  • The preparation of research project funding applications to make projects more meaningful, valuable and of potential benefit to those they are intended for.
  • The delivery of research projects, such as supporting the training of new research assistants, facilitating recruitment and meaningful engagement of research participants and helping C-TRU staff to resolve ethical and other sensitive issues.  
  • The development of guidelines for researchers on how they should sensitively ask research project participants about distressing life events as part of research project assessments and how they should respond to disclosures compassionately and safely.
  • The promotion of PPIE in mental health services in the NHS by presenting at the research unit’s conferences.
  • The recruitment of new staff to the research unit.
Get involved

If you are interested in becoming a member of LEAP, please contact Alice Newton and Alison Branitsky.


Alice and Alison will arrange for you to meet with a member of C-TRU staff and a member of the LEAP to find out more and have any questions you might have answered. We are keen to hear from underrepresented groups.

Our LEAP roles, responsibilities and expectations document has been co-produced with the LEAP and researchers, outline the role and responsibilities of members and the practicalities and expectations of being involved.

Other ways to be involved

There may be times when we need to consult additional people with specific experience on particular issues and we would welcome your help and input.

If you are interested in becoming involved in this capacity, without becoming a member of the LEAP, please get in touch.

Events and News

Our unit director Filippo Varese has won the May Davidson Award - September 2022

The May Davidson Award is given by the British Psychological Society for clinical psychologists who have made an outstanding contribution to the development of clinical psychology within the first 10 years of their work as a qualified clinical psychologist. The award is given in honour of the late May Davidson

You can read more about this here: 

The Sexual Violence Priority Setting Partnership has identified the 10 priority areas for sexual violence/abuse research

In June 2022, we completed the Sexual Violence Priority Setting Partnership in collaboration with the James Lind Alliance and St Mary’s SARC. Researchers, professionals and survivors linked to the project organised a national webinar to disseminate the ‘top 10 priorities’ in this neglected area of research and clinical work, which can be accessed in the project page on the James Lind Alliance website  

'EMDR for Psychosis Conference' - 13 July 2022

In July 2022, in collaboration with Lancashire & South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust and colleagues at the Lancashire Traumatic Stress Service, we organised a conference in Manchester to disseminate the findings of the recently completed EASE trial, the first clinical trial of EMDR in trauma survivors with early psychosis.  

'Implementing Trauma Informed Care' - 21 February 2020

Presented a series of expert clinician and lived experience talks and discussion on how to implement and sustain trauma informed ways of working in mental health services.

'Towards Trauma Informed Care' - 30 July 2018

We launched our research unit and presented the latest research on how best to support people who have concerns about their mental health following distressing life events.

If you would like to be added to our mailing list to find out about future events, please email

Contact us

If you would like further information, please get in touch.

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