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National services

Our experts

National services

Our experts

National services

Our experts

National services

Our experts

Dr Matt Woolgar

Consultant Clinical Psychologist

Area of expertise
Dr Woolgar has a professional interest in developing services that meet the needs of the hardest to reach families. He also believes it should be more widely recognised that adopted and fostered children require at least the same access to best-quality treatments as young people from birth families, and that there is no “one-size fits all” for the needs of adopted and looked after children and young people.

He sees it as important that we can translate developmental research to groups of vulnerable and hard to manage children – particularly research around attachment and the development of emotion regulation.


Dr Matt Woolgar is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist for the Trust’s Conduct Problems Clinic and Adoption and Fostering Team.

As part of his role, he manages the clinical psychology service of the team, conducting and supervising psychometric and neuropsychological assessments, as well as personalised interventions for behaviour problems and difficult attachments. He also offers training and consultation externally in parenting, attachment and the neurobiological legacy of early adversity for looked after and adoption populations.

Other roles

Dr Woolgar also works half time in KCL, where he leads on the Parenting Modules within CYP-IAPT suite of programmes.

He provides training and workshops on attachment, the neurobiological legacy of maltreatment and neglect, assessment and formulation and specialist parenting approaches to a wide range of professionals including social workers, foster carers, clinicians adopted and parents. Dr Woolgar was one of the authors of the Fostering Changes Manual.

Dr Woolgar provides research supervision for PhDs and DClinPsy students on a range of attachment and parenting related topics (for example, identification of reactive attachment disorder in looked after children; practitioners’ understanding of attachment issues; secondary trauma in foster carers and adopters; community-based parenting innovations).

He is a chartered member of British Psychological Society, a member of the Association of Child and Adolescent Mental Health, a member of the British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, and a BABCP Accredited Parenting Practitioner.

  • His current research interests include the application of evidence-based parenting programs to special populations, including adopted children, children in care and children with callous-unemotional traits
  • Dr Woolgar has had a long-standing research interest in the impact of parental psychopathology on infant and child attachment and the measurement of attachment security beyond infancy; and especially in the understanding, identification and treatment of attachment disorders
  • Parenting and secondary trauma in adopters and foster carers

Education and training

Dr Woolgar completed his first degree in Psychology at Cambridge University, before working at the Winnicott Research Unit in the Department of Psychiatry in Cambridge University investigating the impact of maternal mental illness on infant attachment and social development. He then went on to sit a PhD in Developmental Psychology at University College London and the Anna Freud Centre, on the impact of parent-child attachment on the social and moral development of pre-school children.

Following his PhD, he returned to the Winnicott Research Unit, now at the University of Reading for a six-year postdoctoral fellowship continuing his research on attachment, parenting and developmental psychopathology from the neonatal period through to later childhood. He is trained on several ‘gold standard’ assessments of infant and child attachment.

Dr Woolgar’s clinical psychology training was completed at the Institute of Psychiatry, KCL and he is now a Visiting Lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry’s Department of Psychology, maintaining an active research interest in attachment, parenting and behavioural problems.

  • MA, Social and Political Sciences, Cambridge University, 1991 (First class)
  • PhD, Attachment and Developmental psychology, University College London, 1996
  • DClinPsy, Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London 2004



Woolgar, M., and Simmonds, J. (2019). The diverse neurobiological processes and legacies of early adversity: implications for practice. (Editorial). Adoption & Fostering, 43(3), 241–255.

Collyer, H., Eisler, I. and Woolgar, M. (2019). Systematic literature review and meta-analysis of the relationship between adherence, competence and outcome in psychotherapy for children and adolescents. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. doi:10.1007/s00787-018-1265-2

O’Connor, T. G., Woolgar, M., Humayun, S., Briskman, J. A., and Scott, S. (2019). Early caregiving predicts attachment representations in adolescence: findings from two longitudinal studies. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 60, 944-952.

Barnes, G.L., Woolgar, M., Beckwith, H., and Duschinsky, R. (2018). John Bowlby and contemporary issues of clinical diagnosis. Attachment: New Directions in Psychotherapy and Relational Psychoanalysis, 12, 35-47.

Hannah, B., and Woolgar, M. (2018). Secondary trauma and compassion fatigue in foster carers. Clinical Child Psychology & Psychiatry, 23 629-643.

Woolgar, M., Pinto, C., and Tomaselli, O. (2018). The Assessment of Children and Young People for Adoption Support: The evidence from 20 referrals to the National Adoption and Fostering Team at the Maudsley.

Gardner, E. and Woolgar, M. (2018). Parenting in the community: A service evaluation of a universal, voluntary sector parenting intervention. Journal of Community Psychology, 1–13.

For a full publication list see Dr Woolgar's KCL research portal page