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 Henrietta Roberts

Henrietta Roberts

Research Fellow

 Sir Henry Wellcome Building for Mood Disorders Research 


Sir Henry Wellcome Building for Mood Disorders Research, University of Exeter, Queens Drive, Exeter, EX4 4QQ, UK


I am a Research Fellow working on two projects that focus on interventions to reduce rumination. The NIH funded RuMeChange clinical trial (Principal Investigators Ed Watkins and Scott Langenecker) evaluates the effectiveness of rumination-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (RFCBT) as an intervention to reduce rumination in adolescents at increased risk of depression. The trial examines neural and behavioural mechanisms of rumination, and the potential for RFCBT to shift these. The Wellcome Trust funded project "Understanding the mechanisms driving the reduction of repetitive negative thought" (Principal Investigator at Exeter Ed Watkins) seeks to delineate the causal mechanisms that underpin reductions in repetitive negative thought (worry and rumination) and what are the active ingredients in RFCBT that effectively manipulate these mechanisms, thereby reducing RNT.

Previous research projects that I have worked on include a clinical trial evaluating cognitive training for young people with acquired brain injury (Principal Investigator Anna Adlam), a proof-of-concept trial developing and evaluating a cognitive training intervention to reduce rumination in young people (co- Principal Investigator with Anna Adlam), and a cohort study of reward sensitivity and processing (Principal Investigator Barney Dunn). I worked as a Lecturer (Research Tutor) on the DClinPsy programme at Exeter from 2021-2023.

I completed my PhD in 2013, co-supervised by Ed Watkins and Andy Wills, which tested the hypothesis that rumination causes impairments to concurrent executive functioning. This involved developing novel approaches to inducing and measuring state rumination and examining the association between different types of rumination, and their relation to aspects of executive functioning. Prior to my PhD, I completed an MSc supervised by Heather O'Mahen, Huw Williams and Louise Pendry, which examined perceived and observed congnitive functioning during pregnancy.

Research keywords: Rumination, Depression, Goals, Executive functioning, Inhibition

Research group links

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Research interests

I am interested in the cognitive, emotional, and motivational mechanisms by which young people learn to ruminate or worry, and the factors that maintain repetitive negative thought (rumination and worry) during adulthood. I am especially interested in factors that determine whether rumination has helpful or unhelpful consequences, developing novel paradigms and approaches to measuring RNT and associated mechanisms, and the causes and consequences of these for self-regulation and mental health. This includes basic mechanistic research, and also the development and evaluation of preventive interventions.

I am also interested in the role of repetitive negative thought (rumination and worry) and goal-related factors (e.g., goal conflict, goal disengagement and re-engagement) in the onset, maintenance, and recovery from different mental health problems.

Research projects

Research fellow on the RuMe Change trial: Developing rumination-focused treatment to reduce risk for depression recurrence in adolescence (PIs Dr Ed Watkins and Dr Scott Langenecker).

Research fellow on the Wellcome Trust funded project "Understanding the mechanisms driving the reduction of repetitive negative thought" (Exeter PI Ed Watkins).

Research grants:

September 2019-October 2020. Moberly, N. J., Roberts, H., & Karl, A. Promotion/prevention focus and rumination: A multimethod approach. British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant. £9,990.00.

November 2018 Morpeth, L, Limond, J, & Roberts, H. Bid-writing funds to evaluate Brain-in-Hand as an adjunct to psychological therapy for young people following a brain tumour. Set-Squared Scale-Up Programme. £7,500.

June 2014- May 2015 Adlam, A. & Roberts, H. Does working memory training reduce repetitive thinking (rumination and worry)? Wellcome Trust University of Exeter Institutional Strategic Support Fund. £17,394.

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Journal articles

Langenecker SA, Westlund Schreiner M, Bessette KL, Roberts H, Thomas L, Dillahunt A, Pocius SL, Feldman DA, Jago D, Farstead B, et al (2024). Rumination-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Reduces Rumination and Targeted Cross-network Connectivity in Youth with a History of Depression: Replication in a Preregistered Randomized Clinical Trial. Biological Psychiatry Global Open Science, 4(1), 1-10.
Roberts H, Schreiner MW, Pocius S, Dillahunt AK, Farstead B, Feldman D, Bessette KL, Kaufman EA, Slattery W, Jacobs RH, et al (2024). State rumination predicts inhibitory control failures and dysregulation of default, salience, and cognitive control networks in youth at risk of depressive relapse: Findings from the RuMeChange trial. Journal of Affective Disorders Reports, 16, 100729-100729.
Thomas LR, Bessette KL, Westlund Schreiner M, Dillahunt AK, Frandsen SB, Pocius SL, Schubert BL, Farstead BW, Roberts H, Watkins ER, et al (2023). Early Emergence of Rumination has no Association with Performance on a Non-affective Inhibitory Control Task. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev, 1-17. Abstract.  Author URL.
Westlund Schreiner M, Roberts H, Dillahunt AK, Farstead B, Feldman D, Thomas L, Jacobs RH, Bessette KL, Welsh RC, Watkins ER, et al (2023). Negative association between <scp>non‐suicidal self‐injury</scp> in adolescents and default mode network activation during the distraction blocks of a rumination task. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 53(3), 510-521. Abstract.
Roberts H, Ford TJ, Karl A, Reynolds S, Limond J, Adlam A-LR (2022). Mood Disorders in Young People with Acquired Brain Injury: an Integrated Model. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 16
Dillahunt A, Feldman D, Thomas L, Farstead B, Frandsen S, Lee S, Pazdera M, Galloway J, Bessette K, Roberts H, et al (2022). P266. The Balloon Analogue Risk Task and Adolescent Self-Injurious Behaviors. Biological Psychiatry, 91(9).
Dillahunt AK, Feldman DA, Thomas LR, Farstead BW, Frandsen SB, Lee S, Pazdera M, Galloway J, Bessette KL, Roberts H, et al (2022). Self-Injury in Adolescence is Associated with Greater Behavioral Risk Avoidance, Not Risk-Taking. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 11(5). Abstract.
Roberts H, Jacobs RH, Bessette KL, Crowell SE, Westlund-Schreiner M, Thomas L, Easter RE, Pocius SL, Dillahunt A, Frandsen S, et al (2021). Mechanisms of rumination change in adolescent depression (RuMeChange): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial of rumination-focused cognitive behavioural therapy to reduce ruminative habit and risk of depressive relapse in high-ruminating adolescents. BMC Psychiatry, 21(1). Abstract.  Author URL.
Roberts H, Mostazir M, Moberly NJ, Watkins ER, Adlam A-L (2021). Working memory updating training reduces state repetitive negative thinking: Proof-of-concept for a novel cognitive control training. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 142, 103871-103871.
Watkins ER, Roberts H (2020). Reflecting on rumination: Consequences, causes, mechanisms and treatment of rumination. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 127, 103573-103573.
Roberts H, Moberly NJ, Cull T, Gow H, Honeysett M, Dunn B (2019). Short-term affective consequences of specificity of rumination about unresolved personal goals. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
Kirschner H, Kuyken W, Wright K, Roberts H, Brejcha C, Karl A (2019). Soothing Your Heart and Feeling Connected: a New Experimental Paradigm to Study the Benefits of Self-Compassion. Clinical Psychological Science, 7(3), 545-565. Abstract.
Roberts H, Watkins ER, Wills AJ (2016). Does Rumination Cause “Inhibitory” Deficits?. Psychopathology Review, a4(3), 341-376. Abstract.
Roberts H, Watkins ER, Wills AJ (2013). Cueing an unresolved personal goal causes persistent ruminative self-focus: an experimental evaluation of control theories of rumination. J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry, 44(4), 449-455. Abstract.  Author URL.


Dunn BD, Roberts H (2016). Improving the capacity to treat depression using talking therapies: Setting a positive clinical psychology agenda. In Wood A, Johnson J (Eds.) Handbook of Positive Clinical Psychology.


Dillahunt A, Feldman D, Thomas L, Farstead B, Frandsen S, Lee S, Pazdera M, Galloway J, Bessette K, Roberts H, et al (2022). The Balloon Analogue Risk Task and Adolescent Self-Injurious Behaviors.  Author URL.
Schreiner MW, Dillahunt A, Bessette K, Frandsen S, Farstead B, Lee S, Feldman D, Thomas L, Pocius S, Roberts H, et al (2022). Variability of Rumination and Distraction-Related Brain Activation Associated with Lifetime Self-Injury in Adolescents.  Author URL.
Langenecker S, Roberts H, Jacobs R, Bessette K, Jago D, Thomas L, Pocius S, Dillahunt A, Frandsen S, Schubert B, et al (2021). Mechanisms of Rumination Change in Adolescent Depression (RuMeChange).  Author URL.

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