Dr Debora Antoniotti de Vasconcelos e Sa

Senior Lecturer

Faculty:Faculty of Science and Engineering

School:Psychology and Sport Science

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Applied, Social and Health Psychology

Research Supervision:Yes

Debora is a chartered psychologist and senior lecturer in psychology. Her research focuses on family carers’/relatives’ mental health and well-being. She is particularly keen to understand how family carers/relatives can best support someone experiencing mental health distress; and how looking after someone can have an impact on their psychological well-being. Debora is also interested in clinical interventions for family carers/relatives of people experiencing mental and physical conditions.



Debora's research focuses on the quality of interactions between the relative/carer and their family member/client. She looks at Expressed Emotion, attributions and behavioural control and how these variables impact on the relative/carer’s and family member/client’s outcome and recovery. Debora uses qualitative and quantitative methods and Experience Sampling Methodology (ESM).

Before joining ARU in September 2017, Debora worked as a postdoctoral trial coordinator of a mindfulness-based intervention project for people with Parkinson’s disease at City, University of London. Her PhD explored the role of behavioural control, controllability and self-blame attributions in high and low-Expressed Emotion relatives of clients experiencing psychosis, and examined the impact of these beliefs and behaviours on clients’ and relatives’ outcomes.

Before moving to the UK, Debora joined the Depression and Anxiety Disorders Research Programme (Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she coordinated clinical psychiatry research trials with individuals with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders.

Spoken Languages

  • Portuguese
  • Spanish
  • German

Research interests

  • Mental health distress (psychosis, eating and obsessive-compulsive related disorders) and physical health (acquired brain injuries and coeliac disease)
  • Interpersonal/family interactions - Expressed Emotion (EE), attributions and behavioural control
  • Family and clinical interventions
  • Experience Sampling Methodology (ESM)/Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA)

Areas of research supervision

See research interests.



Module leader

  • Mental Health and Distress
  • Clinical Formulation and Treatment
  • Diagnosis and Formulation in Mental Health

Currently teaching

  • Introduction to Clinical and Health Psychology
  • Diagnosis and Formulation in Mental Health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychological Therapies
  • Mental Health and Distress
  • Clinical Formulation and Treatment
  • Diagnosis and Treatment in Clinical Child Psychology
  • Topics in Clinical Child Psychology


  • PhD in Clinical Psychology, University of Manchester, 2014
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Systemic family therapy, Autonoma University of Lisbon, 2003
  • BSc (Hons) in Psychology (clinical cognitive-behavioural and systemic therapy), University of Lisbon, 2001

Memberships, editorial boards

British Psychological Society (BPS)

  •  Graduate member of the (MBPsS)
  • Chartered psychologist (# 237718)
  • General Member of the Division of Clinical Psychology

Portuguese Board of Psychologists (OPP)

  • Chartered psychologist and effective member (# 23511)

Selected recent publications

Vasconcelos e Sa, D., Barrowclough, C., Hartley, S. and Wearden, A., 2017. Self‐blame attributions in relatives of people with recent‐onset psychosis: Associations with relatives’ distress and behavioural control. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 56(2), pp. 172-188.

Bogosian, A., Hurt, C. S., e Sa, D. V., Hindle, J. V., McCracken, L. and Cubi-Molla, P., 2017. Distant delivery of a mindfulness-based intervention for people with Parkinson’s disease: the study protocol of a randomised pilot trial. Pilot and Feasibility Studies, 3(1), p. 4.

Vasconcelos e Sa, D., Wearden, A., Hartley, S., Emsley, R. and Barrowclough, C., 2016. Expressed Emotion and behaviourally controlling interactions in the daily life of dyads experiencing psychosis. Psychiatry Research, 245, pp. 406-413.

Hartley, S., Haddock, G., Vasconcelos e Sa, D., Emsley, R. and Barrowclough, C., 2015. The influence of thought control on the experience of persecutory delusions and auditory hallucinations in daily life. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 65, pp. 1-4.

Hartley, S., Haddock, G., e Sa, D. V., Emsley, R. and Barrowclough, C., 2014. An experience sampling study of worry and rumination in psychosis. Psychological Medicine, 44(8), pp. 1605-1614.

Hartley, S., Varese, F., Vasconcelos e Sa, D., Udachina, A., Barrowclough, C., Bentall, R. P., Lewis, S. W., Dunn, G., Haddock, G. and Palmier-Claus, J., 2014. Compliance in experience sampling methodology: the role of demographic and clinical characteristics. Psychosis, 6(1), pp. 70-73.

Vasconcelos e Sa, D., Wearden, A. and Barrowclough, C., 2013. Expressed emotion, types of behavioural control and controllability attributions in relatives of people with recent-onset psychosis. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 48(9), pp. 1377-1388.

Berry, K., Gregg, L., e Sa, D. V., Haddock, G. and Barrowclough, C., 2012. Staff–patient relationships and outcomes in schizophrenia: The role of staff attributions. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 50(3), pp. 210-214.