Matthew Rushworth, Head of the Department of Experimental Psychology, said: "The Professorship of Psychology is one of the most important appointments in the Department of Experimental Psychology. It has been held by a series of leading psychologists including Larry Weiskrantz, Sue Iversen, Ol Braddick and David Clark, who have all had a major influence on psychology in Oxford and far beyond.
"I am delighted that Daniel Freeman is the new Professor. His exciting research programme and the impact that it has in the clinic made him the ideal candidate and we're looking forward to him taking up the post towards the end of the term."
Professor Freeman said: "It's an honour to be appointed to Oxford's Chair of Psychology. The outstanding achievements of David M Clark in the professorship sets the bar extremely high. It's a wonderful department in which psychological research, practice, and teaching noticeably flourish. The team and I are looking forward to joining very soon."
Daniel is a consultant clinical psychologist in Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, an NIHR Senior Investigator, a Fellow of the British Academy, a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, and the scientific founder of Oxford VR, a University of Oxford spin-out company. He has published over 300 research papers and 10 books and presented the BBC Radio 4 series A History of Delusions.
The aim of Daniel's work is to help improve the lives of people with mental health conditions by developing, testing, and implementing new cognitive-behavioural interventions. These interventions are based on robust experimental psychology and close working with people with lived experience. Over the past decade he developed the most effective psychological therapy for persecutory delusions: the Feeling Safe programme. Such delusions are a common and distressing feature of psychiatric diagnoses such as schizophrenia.
Daniel has also been a pioneer of the use of virtual reality (VR) to assess, understand, and treat mental health conditions. In recent years he has been automating the delivery of psychological therapy within VR by use of a virtual coach. This means a therapist is not required to provide the treatment, thereby facilitating widespread adoption. The most recent example is gameChange, which is starting to be used in mental health services in the UK and USA.
Belinda Lennox, Head of the Department of Psychiatry, said:
“Warm congratulations to Daniel on his new role. We will miss him in Psychiatry, where his pioneering, world-leading research has made a huge impact and improved outcomes for people with severe mental health conditions.
“We wish him all the very best as he moves to the Department of Experimental Psychology, but look forward to continuing to collaborate in the future.”
Daniel's team - the Oxford Cognitive Approaches to Psychosis (O-CAP) research group - comprises clinical psychologists, computer scientists, trial co-ordinators, research assistants, and peer researchers. New work to be conducted by the team in the Experimental Psychology Department includes: developing and testing a more accessible version of the Feeling Safe programme for persecutory delusions; developing and testing a new automated VR therapy for needle fears; conducting a clinical trial of a new automated VR therapy for young patients with psychosis (Phoenix); running a large multi-centre clinical trial testing the effects of treating sleep difficulties in patients with psychosis; and carrying out new psychological studies of paranoia, grandiose delusions, and hallucinations.