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Professor Max Birchwood





WMS - Mental Health and Wellbeing
University of Warwick

Research Interests

My interests include prevention and early intervention in severe mental health problems, particularly as they emerge in young people: 1.Application of the the early intervention in psychosis model across the spectrum of youth mental health. 2.Affective dysregulation in psychosis including depression, social anxiety and PTSD. 3.Developing and testing the cognitive model of voices. My recent trial of CBt to reduce harmful compliance with commanding hallucinations was published in Lancet Psychiatry and is available here (copy and paste into browser): 4.Developing collaborative care between primary and secondary care in the management of severe mental illness. 5. School-based early detection and intervention in emerging mental health problems in adolescence.


Max Birchwood worked for many years as clinical director of youth mental health services and director of research and innovation in Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust. He pioneered the concept and practice of early intervention in psychosis in the UK and internationally and opened the UK's first Early Intervention in Psychosis service in 1994, informed by his concept of the 'critical period' in psychosis, which he translated into the mental health policy framework for the UK government as part of the NHS 'National Plan'. The service has been replicated with over 140 teams across the country and many internationally. He leads the national evaluation of these services through the NIHR National EDEN and SUPEREDEN programme grants. Max was given the Richard Wyatt award for 'outstanding contribution to early psychosis research and treatment', by the IEPA ( ). He has undertaken leading edge research into the application of CBT to psychosis: his RCTs in acute psychosis (1996; 2000), in reducing harmful compliance with command hallucinations (2004,2013) and collaborative RCTs in high risk psychosis (2012), are regarded as breakthrough trials and have been incorporated into UK NICE guidelines for schizophrenia. He has also undertaken extensive work developing the cognitive model of 'voices' , particularly the role of appraisals of voices' power and their role in driving affective dysregulation and compliance with command hallucinations. Max heads the mental health theme of the NIHR BBC CLAHRC (2008-2013) and NIHR CLAHRC West Midlands (2014-2019). As clinical director, he developed the 'Youthspace' youth mental health programme for Birmingham and Solihull NHS Foundation Trust ( ) and is developing this further to embrace public youth mental health in Birmingham, promoting the early identification of emerging mental health problems in adolescence. Max is a member of the NICE guideline development group for schizophrenia in children and young people (2013) and adults (2014).

Research Projects

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