Dr Emma Černis BA, MSc, DClinPsy, DPhil

Dr Emma Černis

School of Psychology
Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology

Dr Emma Černis is a clinical psychologist with expertise in complex mental health difficulties. Her research focuses on understanding dissociative experiences from a cognitive-behavioural perspective.

Pronunciation: “Chur-niss”.




DPhil Biomedical & Clinical Sciences, Oriel College, University of Oxford

DClinPsy Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford

MSc Mental Health Studies, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London

BA Experimental Psychology, St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford


Before taking up the post of Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Birmingham, Dr Emma Černis spent ten years in various roles in Professor Daniel Freeman’s ‘Cognitive Approaches to Psychosis’ research team at the University of Oxford. As a result, Emma has experience of translational and applied psychological research including co-ordinating clinical trials, and delivering trial-standard therapy, including cutting edge CBT interventions for adults with psychosis and young people with At Risk Mental State. 

Emma’s research focuses on dissociation: chronic subjective sensations of ‘strangeness’ or detachment that can cause significant distress and impairment, but which remain largely under-recognised in clinical settings. In her Wellcome Trust-funded Clinical Doctoral Fellowship programme of research, Emma defined a discrete subset of dissociative experiences (‘felt sense of anomaly’ (FSA) dissociation), demonstrated its links with common mental health problems and psychotic experiences, and began identifying its underlying psychological factors. Emma intends to build on this work by developing a cognitive model of FSA-dissociation and piloting a psychological intervention. She is also interested in exploring dissociation transdiagnostically, within adolescents, and determining the role dissociation may play in emerging mental health problems.

Clinically, Emma’s practice and supervision style is primarily influenced by CBT and related ‘third-wave’ approaches. She has expertise in working with psychotic symptoms across the lifespan, and with children, young people and families affected by sexual harm.


Dr Černis contributes to teaching and supervision across the undergraduate and postgraduate, and applied doctoral courses within the School of Psychology and Centre for Applied Psychology.

Postgraduate supervision

Dr Černis is open to co-supervising PhD research that falls within the areas of her expertise and research interests.

Please enquire by contacting the Postgraduate Research (PGR) Programme Administrator at the School of Psychology, or the Institute Operations Officer at the Institute of Mental Health.


I am currently undertaking an online survey study of the causes of dissociation in young people (aged 16 to 25 years): The “Sources of Stress” (SOS) Study. This will be advertised via social media in late 2022 and early 2023. Please email dissociation@contacts.bham.ac.uk for more information.


  • Dissociation:
    • Psychosocial causal and maintenance factors
    • Dissociative experiences in adolescence
    • Transdiagnostically
    • As a risk factor for other mental health problems
    • Evaluation of plausible intervention techniques
    • Experimental paradigms and methods related to elucidating its mechanisms


  • Complex mental health, particularly psychosis and trauma.
  • Preventative interventions and early intervention.

Other activities

Committees, networks & advisory groups:

  • National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Mental Health Incubator for careers in mental health research: member of advisory group (2020 – 2023)
  • DIS.connected: international network for early careers researchers in the field of dissociation: co-founder (2019 – 2023); Chair (2023 – present)

Public engagement and non-academic writing:

Please see entries on UoB Pure: https://research.birmingham.ac.uk/en/persons/emma-cernis


Highlight publications

Černis, E, Ehlers, A & Freeman, D 2022, 'Psychological mechanisms connected to dissociation: generating hypotheses using network analyses', Journal of Psychiatric Research, vol. 148, pp. 165-173. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2022.01.049

Černis, E, Molodynski, A, Ehlers, A & Freeman, D 2022, 'Dissociation in patients with non-affective psychosis: prevalence, symptom associations, and maintenance factors', Schizophrenia Research, vol. 239, pp. 11-18. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.schres.2021.11.008

Černis, E, Evans, R, Ehlers, A & Freeman, D 2021, 'Dissociation in relation to other mental health conditions: an exploration using network analysis', Journal of Psychiatric Research, vol. 136, pp. 460-467. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2020.08.023

Černis, E, Beierl, E, Molodynski, A, Ehlers, A & Freeman, D 2021, 'A new perspective and assessment measure for common dissociative experiences: ‘Felt Sense of Anomaly’', PLOS One, vol. 16, no. 2, e0247037. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0247037

Černis, E, Freeman, D & Ehlers, A 2020, 'Describing the indescribable: A qualitative study of dissociative experiences in psychosis', PLOS One. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0229091

Recent publications


Lofthouse, MK, Waite, P & Černis, E 2023, 'Developing an understanding of the relationship between anxiety and dissociation in adolescence', Psychiatry Research, vol. 324, 115219. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2023.115219

Rosebrock, L, Černis, E, Lambe, S, Waite, F, Rek, S, Petit, A, Ehlers, A, Clark, DM & Freeman, D 2021, 'Catastrophic cognitions about coronavirus: the Oxford psychological investigation of coronavirus questionnaire [TOPIC-Q]', Psychological Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291721000283

Černis, E, Bird, JC, Molodynski, A, Ehlers, A & Freeman, D 2021, 'Cognitive appraisals of dissociation in psychosis: a new brief measure', Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, vol. 49, no. 4, pp. 472-484. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1352465820000958

Oxford Cognitive Approaches to Psychosis Trial Study Group & Černis, E 2021, 'Comparison of a theoretically driven cognitive therapy (the Feeling Safe Programme) with befriending for the treatment of persistent persecutory delusions: a parallel, single-blind, randomised controlled trial', The Lancet Psychiatry, vol. 8, no. 8, pp. 696-707. https://doi.org/10.1016/s2215-0366(21)00158-9

Sheaves, B, Johns, L, Černis, E, Griffith, L & Freeman, D 2021, 'The challenges and opportunities of social connection when hearing derogatory and threatening voices: a thematic analysis with patients experiencing psychosis', Psychology and Psychotherapy, vol. 94, no. 2, pp. 341-356. https://doi.org/10.1111/papt.12303

Freeman, D, Bird, JC, Loe, BS, Kingdon, D, Startup, H, Clark, DM, Ehlers, A, Černis, E, Wingham, G, Evans, N, Lister, R, Pugh, K, Cordwell, J & Dunn, G 2020, 'The Dunn worry questionnaire and the paranoia worries questionnaire: New assessments of worry', Psychological Medicine, vol. 50, no. 5, pp. 771-780. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291719000588

Waite, F, Kabir, T, Johns, L, Mollison, J, Tsiachristas, A, Petit, A, Cernis, E, Maughan, D & Freeman, D 2020, 'Treating sleep problems in young people at ultra-high-risk of psychosis: Study protocol for a single-blind parallel group randomised controlled feasibility trial (SleepWell)', BMJ open, vol. 10, no. 11. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-045235

Freeman, D, Bold, E, Chadwick, E, Taylor, KM, Collett, N, Diamond, R, Černis, E, Bird, JC, Isham, L, Forkert, A, Carr, L, Causier, C & Waite, F 2019, 'Suicidal ideation and behaviour in patients with persecutory delusions: Prevalence, symptom associations, and psychological correlates', Comprehensive Psychiatry, vol. 93, pp. 41-47. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.comppsych.2019.07.001

Waite, F, Diamond, R, Collett, N, Chadwick, E, Bold, E, Teale, AL, Taylor, KM, Kirkham, M, Twivy, E, Causier, C, Carr, L, Bird, JC, Černis, E, Isham, L & Freeman, D 2019, 'The comments of voices on the appearance of patients with psychosis: 'the voices tell me that I am ugly'.', BJPsych Open, vol. 5, no. 5. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjo.2019.66

Freeman, D, Morrison, A, Bird, JC, Chadwick, E, Bold, E, Taylor, KM, Diamond, R, Collett, N, Černis, E, Isham, L, Lister, R, Kirkham, M, Teale, AL, Twivy, E & Waite, F 2019, 'The weeks before 100 persecutory delusions: the presence of many potential contributory causal factors.', BJPsych Open, vol. 5, no. 5. https://doi.org/10.1192/bjo.2019.67

Černis, E, Chan, C & Cooper, M 2019, 'What is the relationship between dissociation and self‐harming behaviour in adolescents?', Clinical psychology & psychotherapy, vol. 26, no. 3, pp. 328-338. https://doi.org/10.1002/cpp.2354

Černis, E, Cooper, M & Chan, C 2018, 'Developing a new measure of dissociation: The Dissociative Experiences Measure, Oxford (DEMO)', Psychiatry Research, vol. 269, pp. 229-236. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2018.08.060

Atherton, S, Antley, A, Evans, N, Cernis, E, Lister, R, Dunn, G, Slater, M & Freeman, D 2016, 'Self-Confidence and Paranoia: An Experimental Study Using an Immersive Virtual Reality Social Situation.', Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, vol. 44, no. 1. https://doi.org/10.1017/s1352465814000496

Freeman, D, Bradley, J, Waite, F, Sheaves, B, DeWeever, N, Bourke, E, McInerney, J, Evans, N, Černis, E, Lister, R, Garety, P & Dunn, G 2016, 'Targeting Recovery in Persistent Persecutory Delusions: A Proof of Principle Study of a New Translational Psychological Treatment (the Feeling Safe Programme).', Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, vol. 44, no. 5. https://doi.org/10.1017/s1352465816000060

Černis, E, Dunn, G, Startup, H, Kingdon, D, Wingham, G, Evans, N, Lister, R, Pugh, K, Cordwell, J, Mander, H & Freeman, D 2016, 'The perseverative thinking questionnaire in patients with persecutory delusions', Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, vol. 44, no. 4, pp. 472-481. https://doi.org/10.1017/s1352465815000533

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