My core research interests are in envisioning, designing, and evaluating new technology-enabled interventions that support social-emotional (SE) skills development, especially for children and youth. This is an interdisciplinary area that has—so far—not received enough attention from HCI researchers; but also one with substantial real-world impact on the well-known challenges faced by mental health intervention providers.
Over the next 4-7 years, the research in my group will primarily focus on understanding how innovative technologies can enable a shift towards a new model of `situated interventions': i.e., interventions, where the users are empowered to learn SE skills directly in the everyday moments when SE competencies are needed, rather than through the currently predominant workshop and classroom-based approaches.
In doing so, my team and I will focus on unpacking a number of fundamental research questions across the technical (e.g. How do available technological capabilities map to key psychological concepts in existing evidence-based interventions?), psychological (e.g., How can the psychological mechanisms underpinning current programs be re-conceptualised and delivered in a situated manner through digital technology?), and socio-technical (e.g., How can we balance designing for acceptability and immediate users’ needs with the psychological intervention goals of leading to long-term effects?) research areas.
Specifically, we are developing interventions for two case study contexts — emotion regulation and positive parenting — that have been selected as two fundamental protective factors of child mental health; e.g., emotion regulation is emerging as one of the few possible transdiagnostic treatments across mental health disorders. The aim is to both develop innovative design patterns and intervention mechanisms that are exciting for HCI, but at the same time also develop robust intervention toolkits that can be deployed in real-world preventative as well as clinical contexts, enabling the medium-to-large scale RCT trials necessary to validate psychological efficacy of proposed mechanisms.
Methodologically, the work of our group is deeply rooted within user-centred design and design thinking approaches, with the understanding of the different but equally crucial bodies of knowledge brought by all stakeholders (e.g., children, parents, clinicians). We deliberately engage with interventions across mental health promotion, prevention, as well as clinical interventions to take advantage of the respective pros and cons (e.g., well defined mechanisms of change in clinical settings vs. ability to innovate and explore socio-technical designs in preventative contexts).
On-going research projects associated with the `smart toys' research agenda
On-going research projects examining the potential of IoT technologies to transform existing parenting interventions
On-going research projects led by other researchers