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Professor Glynis Murphy

Professor of Clinical Psychology & Disability


Glynis Murphy studied PPP at Oxford University, where she obtained a first, and she then undertook her clinical psychology training at Birmingham University, where she was awarded the Crothalls prize. Following this, she was employed as a clinical psychologist in Hilda Lewis House at the Bethlem Royal Hospital and completed her PhD at the Institute of Psychiatry, London. Since that time, she has worked at the Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital, London; the Tizard Centre, University of Kent; and she was academic director on the DClinPsy course in Lancaster University.

Prof Murphy has now returned to the Tizard Centre and currently holds a joint Chair of Clinical Psychology and Disability at the Tizard Centre, University of Kent. She was co-editor of the Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disability until 2014, is a fellow of the British Psychological Society, and was President of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disability between 2008 and 2012. Prof Murphy was awarded the British Psychological Society's MB Shapiro prize for contributions to clinical psychology in 2013. She was an Associate Director for the School of Social Care and Research (up until April 2014) and was elected to the Academy of Social Sciences in March 2014.Prof Murphy also chaired the Guideline Development Group on challenging behaviour and learning disabilities for NICE (2013-2015).

All Glynis Murphy’s posts have involved teaching. She has taught undergraduate students on mainstream Psychology degrees, and on the Tizard Certificate and Diploma courses. She has taught postgraduate students on clinical psychology courses at the Institute of Psychiatry, Salamons, UEA and Lancaster University. She developed and convened the Tizard MSc in Analysis and Intervention in Learning Disabilities, which is now the Postgraduate course in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.  Her teaching is generally very highly rated – averaging around 4.9 on student feedback (on a 1 to 5 scale) in 2011/2012. She has supervised dissertations for numerous MSc students, clinical psychology doctorate students, and 15 PhD students . She has acted as external examiner for a number of programmes and examined PhD theses and Clinical Psychology doctorates at the Universities of Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, London, Cambridge, Nottingham, Lancaster and East Anglia. Prof Murphy has held over £1 million of research grants and has over 120 publications. She also conducts consultancy including advice to NHS-E on learning disabilities and forensic issues.

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Professor Murphy has conducted numerous research projects over the years (see publications tab) latterly managing large and multi-centre grants. Most of her research has been in the field of challenging behaviour and learning disabilities. She has held over £1million in grant funding from Bethlem Royal Hospital, Department of Health (several), Mental Health Foundation (several), Nuffield Foundation, British Institute of Learning Disabilities, Wellcome, Bailey Thomas Fund, NIHR and SSCR.

Current Projects:

Effectiveness for CBT for people with Asperger syndrome and social anxiety. This is an NIHR funded double blind randomised crossover trial of the effectiveness of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) for people with Asperger Syndrome (AS) and high functioning autism, who have problems with anxiety (led by Peter Langdon). Many adults with AS have problems with anxiety but there have been no studies which have tried to find out whether or not CBT can help. We want to find out whether or not psychological treatments for anxiety can be adapted and used to successfully treat the anxiety experienced by adults with AS. All participants will be assessed at baseline (time1). Participants will then be randomly assigned to a treatment group or a waiting list group.Those in the treatment group will receive 24 weeks of CBT at which point all participants will be re-assessed (time2).Those in the waiting group will then receive the 24 weeks of treatment and finally all participants will be reassessed (time 3). Measures of anxiety, general functioning, cost will be taken at the three time points in order to examine whether or not treatment has had any effect. The study will help to determine whether or not CBT will be effective at improving anxiety amongst adults with AS and whether it represents good value for money. It may help us to improve satisfaction with the NHS for people with autistic spectrum disorders who have mental health problems but do not receive treatment.

Effectiveness of social care for ex-offenders with learning disabilities. This new project is funded by the School for Social Care Research. Rachel Forrester-Jones, Nick Gore and Jeni Beecham are co-grant holders. The study will select people screened positive for learning disabilities in prison and follow them up in the Community to assess their progress and to evaluate the effectiveness of social care input.

Effectiveness of cognitive-behavioural treatment for men at risk of sexual offending. This was a three year Department of Health funded project (later granted a one year extension). Neil Sinclair (Clinical Psychologist) was a co-grant holder. The project is evaluating group cognitive behavioural treatment for men with learning disabilities who have sexually abusive behaviour (these men have mostly been excluded from prison and probation treatment groups in the past). The treatment groups are run by clinical psychologists and nurses at a number of sites in England (including Hampshire, Surrey, Kent Yorkshire, Norfolk, the North East and the South West). The data collection and provision of treatment is coordinated by SOTSEC-ID (Sex Offender Treatment Services Collaborative - Intellectual Disabilities). See the SOTSEC web site for further information.

Recently completed projects:

The effectiveness of treatment for people with untreated Phenylketonuria (PKU)This was a four year project funded by Wellcome and SHS. Our collaborative partners were Dr Philip Lee at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, Dr Brian Fitzgerald (psychiatrist) and Eleanor Weetch (National Society for PKU).The project involved a randomised crossover trial of low phenylalanine diet for 36 people with untreated PKU and severe learning disabilities, scattered across England. The dietary products were being provided by SHS International. there were two research workers on the project Allayne Amos & Lesley Robertson.

Symptoms of abuse for people with severe learning disabilities. This project was funded by the Department of Health. Dr Isobel Clare in Cambridge University was the co-grant holder and Ali O'Callaghan was the research worker.The project found that people with severe learning disabilities suffered very long term symptoms following abuse (including classical symptoms of PTSD). The effects both on the survivors themselves and their families was often devastating. There was little consistent treatment available for people and their families and services often did not support families at all well when abuse was discovered. A number of recommendations for improvements to services were made. Copies of the final report can be obtained by emailing Glynis Murphy.

Capacity to consent to sexual relationships. This project was funded by the Nuffield Foundation. Ali O'Callaghan was the research worker on the project. The background to the study was that adults with learning disabilities were presumed competent in law to consent to sexual relationships but this was often questioned in court, especially following allegations of abuse. This project examined the social networks, sexual knowledge and understanding of abuse of adults with learning disabilities and compared them to mainstream non-disabled 16 year old students (who had reached the age of consent and were routinely presumed competent). Adults with learning disabilities frequently knew little about sex and most appeared very vulnerable to abuse. Those who had had sex education did much better than those who had not. The implications for defining capacity to consent to sexual relations were considered. Copies of the final report (with the measures used) can be obtained by emailing Glyns Murphy.

Moral development and people with learning disabilities. As a Phd student, Peter Langdon undertook a series of studies on the moral development of people with learning disabilities, alongside Glynis Murphy and Isabel Clare. They showed that people with learning disabilities did lag behind their peers in moral development and there appeared to be a curvilinear relationship with criminal offending, those with the lowest level of moral development not offending. A brief test of an intervention programme suggested it was possible to promote people's moral development by a form of group CBT.

Follow-up of first total population survey of SIB. The first total population survey of SIB in children and adults with learning disability took place in the 1980's (by Glynis Murphy and Chris Oliver). Recently MSc student Lorne Taylor completed a follow-up of the original survey in a sample of three South London boroughs. For reports contact Glynis Murphy.

Effectiveness of early intervention in autism. This pilot project, partly funded by the British Academy, has just been completed with Dr Julie Beadle-Brown and Hannah Dorey, University of Kent. The project aimed to examine the effect of early interventions on the social relationships of children with autism. The outcome for children receiving ABA interventions was compared to that for children receiving Sonrise interventions and that for children whose parents chose no special intervention. It is hoped to extend this project to include larger groups of children in the south east and north west.


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All of Glynis Murphy’s posts have involved consultancy or clinical work, as well as teaching and research. Over the years she has provided clinical psychology services to a specialist community-based unit for children with severe learning disabilities and challenging behaviour, a specialist service for children with physical and/or learning disabilities, a semi-secure service for people with mild learning disabilities at risk of offending, several community learning disability teams, and an assessment and treatment unit for adults with learning disabilities.

She has also conducted consultancy projects, including both service level planning and individual work. For example, she advised the Fife health and social services departments on the setting up of forensic learning disabilities services; completed assessments for court, mainly assessments of suspects, victims and parents with learning disabilities; provided training for services, including Croydon CLDT; provided 1 day per fortnight consultancy to a specialist intensive support team in Cumbria; led a project for the North West Training and Development Team developing a forensic LD strategy for the NW (Breaking the Cycle - see Glynis Murphy currently acts as forensic LD lead for the Oxleas NHS Trust (2 days per week).

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Tizard Centre, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7LR

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Last Updated: 01/09/2016