Staff profile

Dr Kirsten McEwan

Associate Professor

Kirsten McEwan in a nature environment


College of Health, Psychology and Social Care

Research centre

Health and Social Care Research Centre





I am a Research Psychologist with 18 years of experience in developing and evaluating health and wellbeing treatments. I have project-managed evaluations of treatments in NHS, Clinical Trials, and University settings, producing over 60 published projects. I provided the evidence-base for talking therapies, such as Compassion-Focused Therapy-CFT (for patients) and Compassionate Mind Training-CMT (for public).  

I am happiest spending time in nature and was really pleased to be able to bring together my passion for the outdoors and health and wellbeing research by becoming a Forest Bathing practitioner and researcher. Working closely with The Forest Bathing Institute, I conducted the first UK research into a social prescription called Forest Bathing (mindful walking in nature). Following this research, Forest Bathing received Government funding and is a social prescription across Surrey. My current project working with science communicator Vanessa Potter, examines urban Forest Bathing called 'ParkBathe.' 

Over the following years, I aim to bring my research in 1. Compassion interventions, 2. Public health interventions, and 3. Forest Bathing together, to provide the evidence-base for Forest Bathing and bring it to a wider UK audience as a social prescription, with a special focus on health inequalities. I will also use Forest Bathing as means to bring compassion towards the environment to foster sustainability and climate change resilience. 

Teaching responsibilities

I teach on BSc Psychology (Nature Connections) and MSc Behaviour Change modules. I also supervise PhD students and am currently supervising Jaskaran Basran who is researching compassion in business organisations, and Simone Farris who is researching how increasing the biodiversity of urban parks can improve health and wellbeing.

Research interests

  • Green social prescribing
  • Forest Bathing
  • Compassion-based interventions
  • Sustainable urban landscapes

Recent publications

  • Clarke, F.J., Kotera, Y. & McEwan, K. (2021).  A qualitative study comparing mindfulness and shinrin-yoku (forest bathing): Practitioners’ perspectives. Sustainability
  • Matos, M.., McEwan, K., Kanovský, M., Halamová, J., Steindl, S.R. et al., (2021). Fears of compassion magnify the harmful effects of threat of COVID-19 on mental health and social safeness across 21 countries. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy
  • McEwan, K., Giles, D., Clarke, F.J., Kotera, Y., Evans, G., Terebenina, O., Minou, L., Teeling, C. & Wood, W. (2021). A pragmatic controlled trial of Forest Bathing compared with Compassionate Mind Training in a UK population: impacts on self-reported wellbeing and heart rate variability. Sustainability
  • Leboeuf, I. McEwan, K., Rusinek, S., Andreotti, E. & Antoine, P. (2021). Can Compassion Focused Imagery be used as an Attention Bias Modification Treatment? Current Psychology
  • McEwan, K., Richardson, R., Sheffield, D., Ferguson, F. & Brindley, P. (2021). Assessing the feasibility of public engagement in a smartphone app to: improve wellbeing through nature connection and map wellbeing across urban green spaces. Psyecology
  • Dobson, J., Brindley, P., Birch, J., Henneberry, J., McEwan, K., Mears, M., Richardson, M. (2020). The magic of the mundane: the vulnerable web of connections between urban nature and wellbeing. Cities.
  • Hopkinson, J., King, A., Young, L., Hydon, K., Elliott, F., Muthukrishnana, S., McEwan, K., Tope, R., Howells, C., Williams, A., Hoskins, M. (2020). Crisis management for someone with dementia living at home: mixed-methods case study research to investigate critical factors for successful home treatment. Journal of Health & Social Care in the Community
  • Gobat, N., Littlecott, H., Williams, A., McEwan, K., Stanton, H., Robling, M., Rollnick, S., Murphy, S., Evans, R., (2021). Developing a whole-school mental health and wellbeing intervention through pragmatic formative process evaluation: A case-study of innovative local practice within the School Health Research Network. BMC Public Health, 21, 154,  doi: 10.21203/rs.2.20004/v1
  • Allen, D., Spencer, G., McEwan, K., Catarino, F., Evans, R. & Gilbert, P. (2020). The Schwartz Center Rounds: supporting mental health workers with the emotional impact of their work. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing.
  • McEwan, K., Minou, L., Moore, H., & Gilbert, P. (2020).  Engaging with Distress: Training in the Compassionate Approach. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
  • Cameron, R.W.F., Brindley, P., Mears, M., McEwan, K., Ferguson, F., Sheffield, D., Jorgensen, A., Riley, J., Goodrick, J., Ballard, L., & Richardson, M. (2020). Where the wild things are! Do urban green spaces with greater avian biodiversity promote more positive emotions in humans?  Urban Ecosystems, 23, 301-317
  • Hales, C., Taylor, P., Channons, S., McEwan, K. et al (2019). Controlled Antenatal Thyroid Screening II: effect of treating maternal suboptimal thyroid function on child behavior. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
  • McEwan, K., Ferguson, F.J., Richardson, M., & Cameron, R. (2019). The good things in urban nature: A thematic framework for optimising urban planning for nature connectedness. Landscape and Urban Planning. 194
  • McEwan, K., Richardson, M., Sheffield, F., Ferguson, F. & Brindley, P. (2019). A Smartphone App for Improving Wellbeing through Urban Nature. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 6, 3373, doi: 10.3390/ijerph16183373
  • McEwan, K., Dandeneau, S., Gilbert, P., Maratos, F., Andrew, L., Chotai, S. & Elander, J. (2019). Searching for Compassion in a Crowd: Evaluation of a Novel Compassion Visual Search Task to Reduce Self-Criticism. EC Psychology and Psychiatry, 8.5, 322-333.
  • Pritchard, A., Richardson, M., Sheffield, D. & McEwan, K. (2019). The relationship between nature connnectedness and eudaimonic well-being: A meta-analysis. Journal of Happiness Studies.
  • McEwan, K., Richardson, M., Brindley, P., Sheffield, D., Tait, C., Johnson, S., Sutch, H. & Ferguson, F.J. (2019). Shmapped: Development of an app to record and promote the wellbeing benefits of noticing urban nature. Translational Behavioural Medicine. doi: 10.1093/tbm/ibz027
  • Basran, J., Pires, C., Matos, M., McEwan, K. & Gilbert, P. (2018). Styles of leadership, fears of compassion and competing to avoid inferiority. Frontiers in Psychology, 9:2460. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02460
  • McEwan, K., Elander, J. & Gilbert, P. (2018). Evaluation of a web-based self-compassion intervention to reduce student assessment anxiety. Interdisciplinary Education and Psychology, 2, 6.
  • Richardson, M., McEwan, K. & Garip, G. (2018). "30 Days Wild: who benefits most?", Journal of Public Mental Health
Scrabble tiles laid out to spell mental health

Kirsten McEwan, Senior Research Fellow in Compassion Mental Health and Wellbeing at the University of Derby, explores ways to focus on your wellbeing during this time and the good things that are taking place around you.