Dr Catriona O'Toole

Education

Gaeilge agus fáilte

Assistant Professor

Maynooth University School of Education
Second
216
(01) 708 3445

Biography

Catriona O'Toole is assistant professor/lecturer in Psychology of Education, and a chartered member of the Psychological Society of Ireland (C.Psychol.Ps.S.I.). She began her career in the field of Early Childhood Education, before working as a school psychologist on completion of a BA and PhD in Psychology. She joined Maynooth University Department of Education in September 2010.

Catriona’s research focuses on wellbeing and mental health in educational contexts. She adopts a critical approach to understanding mental health and emotional distress acknowledging the impact of social injustices and the negative operation of power in people’s lives.  She has a particular interest in childhood adversity and trauma-informed practice in education. Her work explores ways that critical educational theory can contribute to the field of mental health and wellbeing education, which are typically dominated by medical models and health promotion research. She uses theory to challenge taken-for-granted assumptions and to expand the depth and the scope of empirical and intervention research in schools.

Catriona’s work also centers on mindfulness, contemplative inquiry and mind-body perspectives in education.  She is leading a systematic review and meta-analysis of school-based mindfulness interventions. She is also exploring ways that contemplative practices can orient teachers toward compassionate and ethical relationships in the context of their pedagogical encounters. Her work is inspired by dialogical, enactive and embodied theories of mind and emotions.

Catriona has numerous publications in international peer-reviewed journals, including Health Education, the Psychological Record, the European Journal for Special Needs Education, and the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. She has also produced research reports for state agencies, including Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, and Kildare Youth Services. Her article 'Toward Dynamic and Interdisciplinary Frameworks for School-Based Mental Health Promotion' published in Health Education won the 2018 Emerald Literati Outstanding Paper Award. 

Catriona has made numerous contributions to national and local media, including television, radio and print media, on issues related to child and youth wellbeing. She is co-convenor of the Health and Wellbeing Education network, which is part of the European Educational Research Association (AERA), and a member of the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education. She is Maynooth University's representative on Kildare Children and Young People's Services Committee and chartered member of the Psychological Society of Ireland.

In her free time, she enjoys trail running, marathons, meditation and yoga, as well as spending time with her husband and three children

Research Interests


  • Wellbeing and mental health in school and community settings
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Trauma-Informed Practice
  • Social Justice, equality and diversity
  • Mindfulness and compassion
  • Education for human flourishing and sustainable futures

Research Projects

  Project Role Funding Body / Program Description Start Date End Date Award (€)
All in the same storm, but not in the same boat! The impact of Covid-19 on the wellbeing of students, teachers and school community PI / 01-JUN-21 15-SEP-21
Review of the state-of-the-art in Mental Health Promotion in Schools PI / 01-MAR-21 31-DEC-21
Sanctuary Schools: Building Capacity for Trauma-Informed Practice in Education PI Irish Research Council (IRC) / 01-MAR-21 31-DEC-21 12000
Human Flourishing in Schools Co-Lead / 01-MAR-20
Professionals training needs analysis PI Kildare Children & Young People's Services Committee (CYPSC). / Consultancy 01-NOV-19 30-SEP-20 3828
Cochrane Systematic Review of preschool and school-based mindfulness interventions Principal investigator / 01-JAN-17

Post Doctoral Fellows/Research Team

  Researcher Name Project Role Funding Body
Mira Dobutowitsch Training Needs Analysis of Professionals working with Children, young people and families in Co Kildare Co-PI Kildare Children & Young People's Services Committee (CYPSC).

Peer Reviewed Journals

  Year Publication
2021 'When trauma comes to school: Toward a socially just trauma-informed praxis'
O'Toole, C (2021) 'When trauma comes to school: Toward a socially just trauma-informed praxis'. International Journal of School Social Work, [Details]
2021 'When it matters most: When it matters most: A trauma-informed, outdoor learning programme to support children’s wellbeing during COVID-19 and beyond'
Mulholland, M & O'Toole, C (2021) 'When it matters most: When it matters most: A trauma-informed, outdoor learning programme to support children’s wellbeing during COVID-19 and beyond'. Irish Educational Studies, [Details]
2021 'The making of a wellbeing measurement: A (kind of) study protocol'
Simovska, V & O'Toole, C (2021) 'The making of a wellbeing measurement: A (kind of) study protocol'. Outlines. Critical Practice Studies, [Details]
2021 '‘What Kind of Education System are We Offering’: The Views of Education Professionals on School Refusal'
Devenney, R & O'Toole, C. (2021) '‘What Kind of Education System are We Offering’: The Views of Education Professionals on School Refusal'. International Journal Of Educational Psychology, [Details]
2019 'Time to teach the politics of mental health: Implications of the Power Treat Meaning Framework (PTMF) for teacher education'
C O'Toole (2019) 'Time to teach the politics of mental health: Implications of the Power Treat Meaning Framework (PTMF) for teacher education'. Clinical Psychology Forum, 313 (1):15-19 [full-text] [Details]
2017 'School-based mindfulness programmes for improving mental health and cognitive functioning in young people aged 3 to 18 years'
O’ Toole, C; Furlong, M; McGilloway, S; Bjørndal, A (2017) 'School-based mindfulness programmes for improving mental health and cognitive functioning in young people aged 3 to 18 years'. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (1) [DOI] [Details]
2017 'Towards dynamic and interdisciplinary frameworks for school-based mental health promotion'
O’Toole C. (2017) 'Towards dynamic and interdisciplinary frameworks for school-based mental health promotion'. Health Education (Bradford, West Yorkshire, England), 117 (5):452-468 [DOI] [full-text] [Details]
2013 'Ready, willing and able? Attitudes and concerns in relation to inclusion amongst a cohort of Irish pre-service teachers'
O'Toole, C;Burke, N (2013) 'Ready, willing and able? Attitudes and concerns in relation to inclusion amongst a cohort of Irish pre-service teachers'. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 28 :239-253 [DOI] [full-text] [Details]
2009 'Relational flexibility and intelligence: Extending the remit of Skinner’s Verbal Behavior'
O'Toole, C., Barnes-Holmes, D., Murphy, C., O’Connor, J., & Barnes-Holmes, Y. (2009) 'Relational flexibility and intelligence: Extending the remit of Skinner’s Verbal Behavior'. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGY AND PSYCHOLOGICAL THERAPY, 9 :1-17 [full-text] [Details]
2009 'THREE CHRONOMETRIC INDICES OF RELATIONAL RESPONDING AS PREDICTORS OF PERFORMANCE ON A BRIEF INTELLIGENCE TEST: THE IMPORTANCE OF RELATIONAL FLEXIBILITY'
O'Toole, C;Barnes-Holmes, D (2009) 'THREE CHRONOMETRIC INDICES OF RELATIONAL RESPONDING AS PREDICTORS OF PERFORMANCE ON A BRIEF INTELLIGENCE TEST: THE IMPORTANCE OF RELATIONAL FLEXIBILITY'. Psychological Record, 59 :119-132 [full-text] [Details]
2009 'Relational flexibility and human intelligence: Extending the remit of skinner's verbal behavior'
O'Toole C.;Barnes-Holmes D.;Murphy C.;O'Connor J.;Barnes-Holmes Y. (2009) 'Relational flexibility and human intelligence: Extending the remit of skinner's verbal behavior'. International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy, 9 (1):1-17 [full-text] [Details]
2009 'ELECTROPHYSIOLOGICAL ACTIVITY GENERATED DURING THE IMPLICIT ASSOCIATION TEST: A STUDY USING EVENT-RELATED POTENTIALS'
O'Toole, C;Barnes-Holmes, D (2009) 'ELECTROPHYSIOLOGICAL ACTIVITY GENERATED DURING THE IMPLICIT ASSOCIATION TEST: A STUDY USING EVENT-RELATED POTENTIALS'. Psychological Record, 59 :207-219 [full-text] [Details]
2007 'A derived transfer of functions and the implicit association test'
O'Toole, C;Barnes-Holmes, D;Smyth, S (2007) 'A derived transfer of functions and the implicit association test'. JOURNAL OF THE EXPERIMENTAL ANALYSIS OF BEHAVIOR, 88 :263-283 [DOI] [full-text] [Details]

Other Journals

  Year Publication
2015 'A Whole New Spectrum of Queries, Concerns and Anxieties'
O'Toole, C., and Byrne, D. (2015) 'A Whole New Spectrum of Queries, Concerns and Anxieties' Children's Research Digest, 2 (2) :9-14. [full-text] [Details]

Published Reports

  Year Publication
2020 Committed, Caring and Compassionate: Co. Kildare Workforce Wellbeing, Attitudes toward Trauma-informed Care, COVID concerns and Ongoing Training Needs.
O'Toole C & Dobutowitsch D (2020) Committed, Caring and Compassionate: Co. Kildare Workforce Wellbeing, Attitudes toward Trauma-informed Care, COVID concerns and Ongoing Training Needs. Kildare CYPSC, Kildare. [full-text] [Details]
2018 ‘Somewhere to Go; Someone to Talk to’ A Report on the Outcome of a Consultation with Young People in West Wicklow.
O'Toole, C., Maher, M. & Showunmi, V. (2018) ‘Somewhere to Go; Someone to Talk to’ A Report on the Outcome of a Consultation with Young People in West Wicklow. Kildare Youth Services, Kildare. [full-text] [Details]
2015 The Influence of Childcare Arrangements on Child Well Being from Infancy to Middle Childhood.
Byrne, D. and O'Toole, C. (2015) The Influence of Childcare Arrangements on Child Well Being from Infancy to Middle Childhood. TUSLA in association with Maynooth University, TUSLA in association with Maynooth University. [full-text] [Details]
2015 Having a disability makes me a better teacher!” Experiences of disability and systems of support in initial teacher education (final report).
O'Toole, C. & Daly, M. (2015) Having a disability makes me a better teacher!” Experiences of disability and systems of support in initial teacher education (final report). Centre for Teaching and Learning, Maynooth. [Details]

Book Chapters

  Year Publication
2020 'School Refusal: What is the problem represented to be? A critical analysis using Carol Bacchi’s questioning approach'
O'Toole, C & Devenney, R (2020) 'School Refusal: What is the problem represented to be? A critical analysis using Carol Bacchi’s questioning approach' In: Social Theory and Education: Forging New Insights in Research. New York: Routledge. [Details]
2009 'Teaching flexible, intelligent and creative behaviour'
O’Toole, C., Murphy, C., Barnes-Holmes, D., & O’Connor, J. (2009) 'Teaching flexible, intelligent and creative behaviour' In: Derived relational responding: Applications for learners with autism and other developmental disabilities. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger. [Details]

Conference Contributions

  Year Publication
2021 Wellbeing promotion in education: Forging new insights and practices.
Catriona O'Toole (2021) Wellbeing promotion in education: Forging new insights and practices. [Oral Presentation], Educational Studies Association of Ireland, Online conference [Details]
2021 The personal is political: Advancing educational responses to global challenges in mental health and wellbeing.
Catriona O'Toole (2021) The personal is political: Advancing educational responses to global challenges in mental health and wellbeing. [Invited Lecture], American Educational Research Association, Online conference [Details]
2021 Culturally responses approaches to mental health in schools.
Catriona O'Toole (2021) Culturally responses approaches to mental health in schools. [Invited Lecture], American Educational Research Association, Online conference [Details]
2020 The wellbeing agenda in education: Triumph or tyranny for children's mental health.
Catriona O'Toole (2020) The wellbeing agenda in education: Triumph or tyranny for children's mental health. [Invited Lecture], American Educational Research Association, Online conference [Details]
2020 Educational Studies Association of Ireland.
Dobutowitsch, M & O'Toole, C (2020) Educational Studies Association of Ireland. [Oral Presentation], Teachers' wellbeing matters: Exploring quality of life, secondary traumatic stress and levels of self-compassion amongst Teachers in Ireland, Online conference [Details]
2019 From ‘chemical imbalance’ to ‘power imbalance’: A paradigm shift in how we think about and respond to student’s emotional distress and difficult behaviour in schools.
Catriona O'Toole (2019) From ‘chemical imbalance’ to ‘power imbalance’: A paradigm shift in how we think about and respond to student’s emotional distress and difficult behaviour in schools. [Oral Presentation], Australian Association for Educational Research - Health and Physical Education Research Group, Online conference [Details]
2020 Educational Studies Association of Ireland.
O'Toole (2020) Educational Studies Association of Ireland. [Invited Lecture], Toward a trauma-informed praxis in education, Online conference [full-text] [Details]
2017 Invited presentation as part of Maynooth University Research Week.
O'Toole, C. McCormack, D. (2017) Invited presentation as part of Maynooth University Research Week. [Oral Presentation], Mindfulness as a resource for personal and collective wellbeing in a pluralistic society: Research and Practice, Maynooth University [Details]
2015 Education and Transition, Contributions from Educational Research conference.
O’ Toole, C; Furlong, M; S. McGilloway, S; Bjorndal, A (2015) Education and Transition, Contributions from Educational Research conference. [Oral Presentation], School-based mindfulness programs: Transforming children's lives or merely a passing fad?, Budapest, Hungary , 08-SEP-15 - 11-SEP-16 [Details]

Conference Publications

  Year Publication
2017 Paper presented as part of the symposium:‘Wellbeing and Schooling: Cross cultural and Cross disciplinary Perspectives
O'Toole, C & O'Connor, C. (2017) Paper presented as part of the symposium:‘Wellbeing and Schooling: Cross cultural and Cross disciplinary Perspectives A Reprieve but not a Fix for Childhood Stresses: A Participatory Study of School-based Mindfulness in an Irish Primary School European Conference of Educational Research, Copenhagen, [Details]
2016 Mindfulness in the mundane: Exploring the promise and perils of mindfulness practices with children
O'Toole, C (2016) Mindfulness in the mundane: Exploring the promise and perils of mindfulness practices with children Paper presented as part of the Children and Wellbeing symposium, held at the 7th Annual Childhood Studies Conference, held in Turku, Finland, 6th-8th June [Details]
2013
Byrne, D & O'Toole, C (2013) 'Learning experiences in early years: an investigation using the Growing up in Ireland dataset [Details]
2012 Using Growing Up in Ireland to Explore Family Employment and Childcare Dynamics in a Context of Child Well-Being
Byrne, D & O'Toole, C (2012) Using Growing Up in Ireland to Explore Family Employment and Childcare Dynamics in a Context of Child Well-Being New Perspectives on Family Change in Ireland, NUIM, 12th December 2012 [Details]
2011 Behavioural Interventions in Mainstream Schools: A Contextual Approach
Dr Catriona O'Toole (2011) Behavioural Interventions in Mainstream Schools: A Contextual Approach Paper presented at the Division of Behaviour Analysis Annual Conference, Trinity College, Dublin. [Details]
2016 Opening the Conversation about Children's Well-being: Tensions, Confluences and Possibilities in School-based Mental Health Promotion
O'Toole C (2016) Opening the Conversation about Children's Well-being: Tensions, Confluences and Possibilities in School-based Mental Health Promotion 'Interventions to Promote Wellbeing: Schools and Community’ symposium, held at the European Conference of Educational Research, Dublin, 22nd-26th August [Details]
2015 Mindful schools? Exploring the potential of mindfulness programmes for enhancing resilience and wellbeing in children and adolescents
Dr Catriona O'Toole (2015) Mindful schools? Exploring the potential of mindfulness programmes for enhancing resilience and wellbeing in children and adolescents Paper presented at the Educational Studies Association of Ireland, Carton House, Maynooth, 9-11th April, 2015 [Details]
2015 School-based mindfulness programmes: Transforming children's lives or merely a passing fad?
O'Toole, Furlong, M, McGilloway, S. & Bjørndal, A. (2015) School-based mindfulness programmes: Transforming children's lives or merely a passing fad? Paper presented at the symposium: Wellbeing and Mental Health Promotion in Schools, held at the European Conference of Educational Research (ECER), in Budapest, Sept 8th-12th [Details]
2015 Fostering resilience through education: Creating opportunities for meaningful participation, belonging and cognitive engagement
Dr Catriona O'Toole (2015) Fostering resilience through education: Creating opportunities for meaningful participation, belonging and cognitive engagement Presented at a Maynooth University Research Seminar entitled, Sustaining Resilient Families, Households and Communities, on May 28th [Details]
2014 Associations between childcare type and children's cognitive development: Results from the National Longitudinal Study of Children in Ireland
Dr Catriona O'Toole (2014) Associations between childcare type and children's cognitive development: Results from the National Longitudinal Study of Children in Ireland Paper presented at the Child Development in School and Community Conference, held in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, June 27th-29th [Details]
2014 Accessing Initial Teacher Education: An exploration of best practice in the support of student teachers with disabilities on school placement.
Dr Catriona O'Toole (2014) Accessing Initial Teacher Education: An exploration of best practice in the support of student teachers with disabilities on school placement. Paper presented at Education Studies Association of Ireland Annual Conference, held in Athlone, April, 10th-12th [Details]
2014 Seeing Things Differently: Restorative Practice in Second Level Education
Dr Catriona O'Toole (2014) Seeing Things Differently: Restorative Practice in Second Level Education Presented at the seminar, Enhancing a Positive School Culture through Restorative Practice, on 9th May , hosted by Maynooth University Edward M Kennedy Institute [Details]
2014 Having a disability makes me a better teacher” Experiences of disability and systems of support in initial teacher education
Maeve Daly, Dr Catriona O'Toole (2014) Having a disability makes me a better teacher” Experiences of disability and systems of support in initial teacher education Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Psychological Society of Ireland, held in Kilkenny, 12-15th November [Details]
2013 Childcare and Child Development at Age Three: A Cross Sectional Analysis of Growing up in Ireland Data
Byrne, D & O'Toole, C (2013) Childcare and Child Development at Age Three: A Cross Sectional Analysis of Growing up in Ireland Data 43rd Annual Conference of the Psychological Society of Ireland, 6-9th November 2013, Radisson Blu Hotel and Spa, Sligo [Details]
2013 Student-teachers’ attitudes and concerns about inclusive education: The importance of the emotional climate of the placement school
Dr Catriona O'Toole (2013) Student-teachers’ attitudes and concerns about inclusive education: The importance of the emotional climate of the placement school Education Studies Association of Ireland [Details]
2013 The Impact of Childcare on Children’s Well-Being and Development: An Analysis using the Growing up in Ireland Dataset
Byrne, D, & O'Toole, C (2013) The Impact of Childcare on Children’s Well-Being and Development: An Analysis using the Growing up in Ireland Dataset Early Childhood Ireland Conference ‘Today’s Children, Tomorrows World, Turning Points? 17th-19th October 2013, Aviva Stadium, Dublin [Details]
2013 'Working out? Family Employment and Childcare Arrangements and their Influence on Child Well Being from Infancy to Middle Childhood
Byrne, Delma, Dr Catriona O'Toole (2013) 'Working out? Family Employment and Childcare Arrangements and their Influence on Child Well Being from Infancy to Middle Childhood Growing up in Ireland Annual Conference, 27th November, Croke Park Conference Centre, Dublin [Details]
2011 A Three tier Model of Positive Behaviour Support: Partnerships to facilitate its adoption in Irish Schools
Dr Catriona O'Toole (2011) A Three tier Model of Positive Behaviour Support: Partnerships to facilitate its adoption in Irish Schools Educational Studies Association of Ireland Annual Conference, in Dublin [Details]
2010 Exploring Social Validity in the context of Multi- Element Behavior Support (MEBS) Interventions
O'Toole, C & Dench, C (2010) Exploring Social Validity in the context of Multi- Element Behavior Support (MEBS) Interventions Paper presented in the symposium Positive ABA interventions: Conceptual and Empirical Issues, at the 36th Annual Convention for the Association of Behaviour Analysis in San Antonio, Texas. [Details]
2009 The Informed Consent Meeting: Making the Most of the Initial Meeting with Prospective Clients.
O'Toole, C., McPeake, K, & Connolly, J. (2009) The Informed Consent Meeting: Making the Most of the Initial Meeting with Prospective Clients. Paper presented at the Psychological Society of Ireland Annual Conference held in Wexford. [Details]
2007 Are you smart enough to get it wrong? The importance of relational flexibility in human intelligence
O'Toole, C & Barnes-Holmes D. (2007) Are you smart enough to get it wrong? The importance of relational flexibility in human intelligence Paper presented at the symposium: Applications of Relational Frame Theory: Alternative psychological measures, held during the British Psychological Society Annual Conference, in Dublin. [Details]

Blog

  Year Publication
2021 Why Schools need resources to support traumatised children.
Catriona O'Toole (2021) Why Schools need resources to support traumatised children. Blog [Details]

Newspaper Articles

  Year Publication
2013 Concerns over practices in early years’ settings: Advice for parents.
Dr Catriona O'Toole (2013) Concerns over practices in early years’ settings: Advice for parents. Newspaper Articles [Details]
2013 'Poor investment in Early Years care will cost us dear'.
Dr Catriona O'Toole (2013) 'Poor investment in Early Years care will cost us dear'. Newspaper Articles [Details]

Honours and Awards

  Year Title Awarding Body
2018 Winner Outstanding Paper Award. Awarded for the paper: Toward dynamic and interdisciplinary frameworks for school-based mental health promotion Emerald Literati

Professional Associations

  Association Function From / To
Health and Wellbeing Education Network Co-Convener /
Registered Psychologist, Psychological Society of Ireland Registered psychologist /
PSI Division of Teachers and Researchers in Psychology Committee member /
Educational Studies Association of Ireland Committee member & Membership Secretary /
Association of Contemplative Mind in Higher Education Member /

Reviews

  Journal Role
Journal Of Child And Adolescent Trauma Member of the Editorial Board
Irish Educational Studies Editor

Teaching Interests

Catriona teaches across the Department's Initial Teacher Education programmes, as well as the Postgraduate Diploma in School Guidance and Counseling, and the M.Ed and Doctoral degree programmes.

Her teaching is in areas of psychology of education, including child/adolescent development, learning, mental health and wellbeing, integrated with educational theory and perspectives.

Catriona incorporates mindfulness and other contemplative practices into her classes. Contemplative pedagogies offer opportunities for students to intimately connect with their own experience, and to engage with the struggles, perspectives and experiences of others. In teacher education, contemplative practices can set the ground work for personal flourishing of the teachers themselves, as well as supporting a deep sensibility and commitment toward the collective work of nurturing a personally enriching and compassionate educational experience for all children.