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Why was ERICCA established, and what are its aims?

We need to improve the effectiveness, acceptability and cost effectiveness of psychological interventions for people with severe and complex mental health problems. Our understanding of complex conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other severe mental health problems remains limited, and we lack effective interventions to improve important outcomes such as service-user defined recovery, autonomy and empowerment. We need much more rigorous research focused on understanding the psychological and social causes of these disabling conditions, and much more research and development of effective therapies.

Due to increasing demands on existing psychological services, there are currently very significant challenges to providing psychologically orientated care and associated therapies to this client group. We therefore recognise that there is a need to respond to this demand and trial novel, more responsive therapeutic methods of working, such that patients can access psychological care and therapies from the point of entry to our services, through to discharge and ongoing recovery.


To achieve these goals, Dr Sean Harper (NHS Lothian), Associate Professor Paul Hutton (Edinburgh Napier University & NHS Lothian) and Professor Thanos Karatzias (Edinburgh Napier University & NHS Lothian), established an NHS Lothian-based clinical research centre called the ‘Edinburgh Research and Innovation Centre for Complex and Acute mental health problems’ (ERICCA).

ERICCA began in 2017 and is a joint NHS Lothian and Edinburgh Napier University initiative. ERICCA members organise their research activity around psychological therapy service developments, aiming to improve our understanding of the psychosocial causes and maintaining factors in severe mental health problems.  ERICCA is characterised by an overarching commitment to involving patients, carers, partner agencies and NHS clinicians closely in the design and implementation of novel psychological approaches to care, reflected in high quality psychological research, all of which will be focused on understanding and supporting recovery from severe and complex mental health problems. As a self-sustaining Centre of Excellence, ERICCA aims to raise the profile of clinical psychological research in Scotland, bringing in significant funding, and attracting the best and brightest researchers and clinicians to work in Edinburgh.


The specific goals of ERICCA are:


  • To apply rigorous research methodology to the evaluation of clinical service developments for severe and complex mental health problems across the severe and complex mental health psychological pathway.

  • To improve our understanding of how psychological and social factors contribute to the onset and maintenance of severe and complex mental health problems.

  • To improve the effectiveness, acceptability and safety of psychological interventions for promoting recovery from severe and complex mental health problems.

  • To involve service-users, clinicians and carers as key partners in the design and implementation of ERICCA-led research, and to further support and enhance service-user led research.

  • To raise the profile of both NHS Lothian and ENU in relation to the production of high-quality psychological research into severe and complex mental health problems.

  • To attract significant financial investment in psychological research in Scotland.

ERICCA Directors
Sean Harper_edited.jpg
Dr Sean Harper, Director

Dr Sean Harper is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist in NHS Lothian, and has over 16 years experience working across the range of adult mental health problems.

Sean is Director of the Inpatient Applied Psychology Research Unit

Dr Paul Hutton, Associate Director

Dr Paul Hutton is Associate Professor of Therapeutic Interventions in Edinburgh Napier's School of Health and Social Care, and Honorary Consultant Clinical Psychologist at NHS Lothian.

Paul is Director of the Psychosis, Autonomy & Recovery Research Unit.

Professor Thanos Karatzias, Associate Director

Professor Karatzias is Professor of Mental Health at Edinburgh Napier University and a Clinical & Health Psychologist in the NHS Lothian Rivers Centre for Traumatic Stress.

Thanos is Director of the Trauma & Complex Mental Health Problems Research Unit.

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