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Palwinder Athwal- Kooner

Principal Lecturer

School of Social Sciences

Staff Group(s)


Dr Athwal is the Course Leader MSc Forensic Psychology Programme, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, BPS Chartered & HCPC Registered Forensic Psychologist & ACAT accredited Cognitive Analytic Therapist. She is the course leader for our BPS accredited MSc in Forensic Psychology Programme. She is also a module leader for the MSc Forensic Mental Health course, and the 3rd year option module: Criminological Psychology for the undergraduate programme. She lectures on both the undergraduate and postgraduate psychology courses. She provides tutorial and research supervision (UG & PG). She is also engaging in knowledge exchange activities with Circles and Cygnet Hospital.

Career overview

Dr Athwal-Kooner was previously the course developer and Director of the Msc in Forensic Psychology programme and Senior Lecturer in Forensic Psychology at the University of Winchester for about 3 years. She is a BPS Chartered and HCPC registered Forensic Psychologist, and ACAT accredited Cognitive Analytic Therapist. She worked within a forensic mental health hospital setting between 2007 and 2013 with men with various clinical disorders and forensic problems. In particular, she provided clinical and forensic assessments, treatment and therapy to individuals with Psychosis, Personality Disorder, Learning Disability and Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). She has been involved in the field of mental health since 2001 and has various roles within forensic institutions since 2003 including the court service, the police, probation service and the NHS.

She became interested in Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT) in 2011, particularly its applicability to various clinical and forensic populations, subsequently she trained as a CAT therapist and has been providing CAT therapy since in various settings.

She has vast experience in team consultancy and training. In particular, she has been trained as a trainer for the following risk assessments: HCR-20, START and RSVP; she has provided training on these assessments to various professionals. She has also provided awareness training regarding clinical presentations such as Personality Disorder, Psychosis and ASD. She has facilitated training on the use of CAT in forensic settings to teams of mental health professionals and provided workshops on this matter as part of the British Psychological Society CPD programme. She has been trained to deliver the Knowledge and Understanding Framework for Personality Disorder for the Department of Health, Institute of Mental Health and the Ministry of Justice. She has specialist training in the diagnosis of Psychopathy and ASD, and is trained in Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) Psychotherapy.

Research areas

Dr Athwal-Kooner is currently evaluating the benefits of the Circles Southeast Mentoring Intervention. She is also collaborating with Cygnet Hospital, Stevenage; she is currently leading a review of the effectiveness of a CAT informed relational training approach in staff teams working within a forensic hospital.

External activity

Research & Knowledge Transfer:

2016: CAT in Forensic Settings Workshop for the BPS CPD Programme 2016

2015: CAT in Forensic Settings Workshop for the BPS CPD Programme 2015

2014: CAT for Teams Training, Cygnet Hospital, Stevenage

2014: CAT in Forensic Settings Workshop for the BPS CPD Programme 2014

2014: CAT with ASD Populations Workshop, St Andrew’s Healthcare, Northampton

2013: CAT for Teams Workshop, St Andrew’s Healthcare, Northampton

2013: Good Lives Model, St Andrew’s Healthcare, Northampton

2010: RSVP Training, St Andrew’s Healthcare, Northampton

Sponsors and collaborators

Dr Athwal-Kooner is currently evaluating the benefits of the Circles Southeast Mentoring Intervention. She is also collaborating with Cygnet Hospital evaluating a CAT informed staff training programme.


Athwal-Kooner, P. (2017) Report: The Benefits of the Circles Mentoring Scheme with a group of male sexual offenders in a community setting, Nottingham Trent University.

Athwal-Kooner, P., Bream, D., Wachter, T., Vallentine, V. and Withers, J. (2017) The Effectiveness of CAT Informed Relational Training in a Secure Forensic Hospital, Poster for 7th International CAT Conference, Nottingham University

Athwal, P. (2009) An Evaluation of Interventions offered to Nursing staff working in Learning Disability Psychiatric Settings to reduce the psychological impact of patient aggression, Doctoral Thesis, University of Birmingham.

Athwal, P. (2007) The impact of nurse training on reducing the prevalence of violence from patients, Presentation at The Division of Forensic Psychology Annual Conference, The University of York, UK.

Athwal, P., Evans, S., Wheatley, M. (2010) Psychological Services within the Autistic Spectrum Disorder Pathway, Poster for ASD Services Open Day, St Andrew’s Healthcare, Northampton, UK

Frowd, C. D., Underwood, S., Athwal, P., Lampinen, J. M. Erickson, W. B., Mahony, G., and Marsh, J. E. (in press).  Facial stereotypes and perceived mental illness. In A. Stoica, et al. (Eds.) IEEE Proceedings of 2015 Sixth International Conference on Emerging Security Technologies, 3-5 September 2015, Technische Universitaet Braunschweig, Germany, IEEE Press.

Fodarella, C., Wilcock, R., Palwinder, A., Marsh, J. E., & Frowd, C. D. (2016). The impact of mental reinstatement of context and holistic interviewing on the production of facial composites.  Presentation at BPS Cognitive Section Conference, Barcelona, September.

Press expertise

Forensic Mental Health