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About Prof Essau


Cecilia A. Essau is Professor of Developmental Psychopathology and the Director of Centre for Applied Research and Assessment in Child and Adolescent Wellbeing at the University of Roehampton, UK. She is also Visiting Professor at the University of Adelaide, Australia and a Scientific Advisor at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on the development and dissemination of a “Treatnet Family Intervention”, an evidence-based training package for adolescents with drug use disorders.

Professor Essau was born and raised in the tropical jungle of Borneo Island (in Sarawak). She received her early education in Abang Aing Primary School and then in Simanggang Secondary School in Sri Aman. After completing her Senior Cambridge examination, she went to Canada where she did her Highschool Diploma at Hillcrest Highschool in Thunder Bay, Ontario.


She obtained her BA (Hons) and MA in Clinical Psychology from Lakehead University (Canada), her PhD in Developmental and Cross-Cultural Psychology from the University of Konstanz (Germany), and her “Habilitation” in Developmental Psychopathology (qualification for tenure-track professorships in Germany) from the University of Bremen (Germany).

She is the first Iban woman to have received a PhD.

Cecilia has held a number of academic positions in Canadian (Lakehead University), Austrian (Karl-Franzens University Graz), and German (Max-Planck Institute of Psychiatry, University of Konstanz, University of Bremen, Technical University Braunschweig, University of Muenster) universities before joining the University of Roehampton in May 2004 as a Professor of Developmental Psychopathology.

Professor Essau is a recipient of the Norman Munn Distinguished Visiting Scholar from Flinders University (Australia), Distinguished Visiting Professorship from De La Salle University (Philippines), and the Florey Medical Research Foundation Mental Health Visiting Professorship from the University of Adelaide (Australia). She had visiting chairs at Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz (Austria), Universiti Malaysia Sabah (Malaysia), and Uniwersytet Opolski (Poland).  She also serves as an International Scientific Advisor at numerous European, Middle Eastern, and Asian universities. In August 2019, she was Singapore’s Ministry of Health HMDP (Health Manpower Development Plan) Visiting Expert in Young Children with emotional and/or behavioural problems. 


In 2011, she was made Fellow of the British Psychological Society in recognition of her contribution to the field of Psychology. She is also Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.


Her research focuses on understanding factors that can lead young people to have serious emotional and behavioural problems and using this research to (a) enhance the assessment of childhood and adolescent psychopathology and (b) design more effective interventions to prevent and treat such problems.

She is the author of 265 articles, and is the author/editor of 22 books in the area of youth mental health, focusing on anxiety disorders, adolescent depression and evidence based psychological interventions.

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