Sally O'Keeffe

Mental Health Research Fellow


Sally’s research seeks to develop interventions for youth mental health problems and test their effectiveness. She has a particular interest in interventions for self-harm and suicide prevention in young people. She is Co-Investigator on the Support Adolescents with Self-Harm (SASH) trial which is testing Therapeutic Assessment, Safety Planning and Solution Focused Follow-up Sessions for adolescents presenting to A&E with self-harm ( She is also working on the Support Systems for Self-harm and Suicide (4S) project which is investigating how secondary schools, colleges and governing bodies of youth organisations deliver self-harm and suicide prevention, intervention and postvention (

Before joining the ARC, she worked at City, University of London as Programme Manager on a £2.7 million NIHR programme grant, ‘ASsuRED: Improving outcomes in patients who self-harm – Adapting and evaluating a brief pSychological inteRvention in Emergency Departments’ (Assured). Prior to that, she worked at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families on the ‘Improving Mood with Psychoanalytic and Cognitive Therapies’ (IMPACT) trial and the qualitative sibling study, IMPACT-My Experience (IMPACT-ME). She undertook her PhD at University College London as part of the IMPACT and IMPACT-ME studies, which investigated treatment dropout for young people receiving therapy for depression.

Sally has developed a particular interest in mixed-methods research, including ideal-type analysis which is a qualitative approach to constructing typologies. She has co-authored a book on ideal-type analysis, published as part of a qualitative methods series by the American Psychological Association.

Areas of interest 

  • Children and young people’s mental health
  • Suicide prevention
  • Qualitative and mixed methods
  • Ideal type analysis

Recent publications

Currie, C.C., Walburn, J., Hackett, K., McCabe, R., Sniehotta, F.F., O’Keeffe, S., Beerlage-de Jong, N, & Araújo-Soares, V. (2021). Intervention Development for Health Behavior Change: Integrating Evidence and the Perspectives of Users and Stakeholders. In: Reference Module in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Psychology.

Dunn, V., O’Keeffe, S., Stapley, E. & Midgley, N. (2018) Facing Shadows: Working with young people to coproduce a short film about depression. Research Involvement and Engagement, 4, 46.

Fonagy, P., Lemma, A., Target, M., O’Keeffe, S., Constantinou, M., Ventura Wurman, T., Luyten, P., Allison, L., Roth, T., Cape, J. & Pilling., S. (2020). Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy for moderate to severe depression: A pilot randomized controlled and feasibility trial. Psychological Medicine, 50(6), 1010-1019.

Grossfeld, M., Calderon, A., O’Keeffe, S., Green, V., & Midgley, N. (2019). Short-term psychoanalytic psychotherapy with a depressed adolescent with Borderline Personality Disorder: an empirical, single case study. Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 45(2), 209-228.

Meier, J., O’Keeffe, S., Thackeray, L. & Midgley, N. (in press). The therapy process with depressed adolescents who drop out of therapy: An empirical case study. Journal of Child Psychotherapy.

Midgley, N., Holmes, J., Parkinson, S., Stapley, E., Eatough, V., & Target, M. (2016). “Just like talking to someone about like shit in your life and stuff, and they help you”: hopes and expectations for therapy among depressed adolescents. Psychotherapy Research, 26(1), 11–21.

Midgley, N., Parkinson, S., Holmes, J., Stapley, E., Eatough, V., & Target, M. (2015). Beyond a diagnosis: The experience of depression among clinically-referred adolescents. Journal of Adolescence, 44, 269–279.

Midgley, N., O’Keeffe, S., French, L., & Kennedy, E. (2017). Psychodynamic psychotherapy for children and adolescents: an updated critical review of the evidence-base. Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 43(3), 307-329.

Midgley, N., Parkinson, S., Holmes, J., Stapley, E., Eatough, V., & Target, M. (2017). “Did I bring it on myself?” An exploratory study of the beliefs that adolescents referred to mental health services have about the causes of their depression. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 26(1), 25-34.

Midgley, N., Reynolds, S., Kelvin, R., Loades, M., Calderon, A., Martin, P., IMPACT Consortium & O’Keeffe, S. (2018), Therapists’ techniques in the treatment of adolescent depression. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 28(4), 413-428.

O’Keeffe, S., Martin, P., Goodyer, I., Kelvin, R., Dubicka, B., IMPACT Consortium, & Midgley, N. (2019). Prognostic implications for depressed adolescents who drop out of psychological treatment during a randomised controlled trial. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 58(10), 983-992.

O’Keeffe, S., Martin, P., Goodyer, I., Wilkinson, P., IMPACT Consortium, & Midgley, N. (2018). Predicting dropout in adolescents receiving therapy for depression. Psychotherapy Research, 28(5), 708-721.

O’Keeffe, S., Martin, P., & Midgley, N. (2020). When adolescents stop psychological therapy: Rupture–repair in the therapeutic alliance and association with therapy ending. Psychotherapy, 57(4), 471.

O’Keeffe, S., Martin, P., Target, M., & Midgley, N. (2019). ‘I just stopped going’: A mixed methods investigation into types of therapy dropout in adolescents with depression. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 75.

O’Keeffe, S., Midgley, N. (2021). A commentary on ‘Dropout from randomised controlled trials of psychological treatments for depression in children and youth: a systematic review and meta-analyses’. Journal of Affective Disorders, 299, 142-143.

O’Keeffe, S., Suzuki, M., Ryan, M., Hunter, J., & McCabe, R. (2021). Experiences of care for self-harm in the Emergency Department: a comparison of perspectives of patients, carers and practitioners. BJPsych Open, 7(5), e175.

O’Keeffe, S., Weitkamp, K., Isaacs, D., Target, M., Eatough, V., & Midgley, N. (2020). A qualitative study of parents’ understanding and motivation to take part in a randomised controlled trial in the field of adolescent mental health. Trials, 21, 952.

Parkinson, S., Midgley, N., Holmes, J., Stapley, E., & Eatough, V. (2016). Framework Analysis: A worked example of a study exploring young people’s experiences of depression. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 13(2), 109–129.

Stapley, E., O’Keeffe, S. & Midgley, N. (2022). Developing typologies in qualitative research: The use of ideal-type analysis. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 21, 1-9.

Stapley, E., O’Keeffe, S., & Midgley, N. (2021). Essentials of Ideal-Type Analysis: A Qualitative Approach to Constructing Typologies. Essentials of Qualitative Methods Series. American Psychological Association.


Get in touch

Email:  Sally.O’[email protected]
ORCID ID: 0000-0002-6713-2898