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Dr. Derina Johnson
Project Manager Trinity INC, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Unit


Derina was awarded her PhD from the School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin in 2018. Her doctoral research, under the supervision of Professor Robbie Gilligan, explored the lived experience of young migrants and refugees growing up in legal and social marginalisation on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Her thesis passed with no corrections at the time of her viva.

Prior to her PhD, Derina spent three years living on the Thailand-Myanmar border, working in close collaboration with local refugee and migrant groups to develop and deliver culturally appropriate and sustainable psychosocial care programmes, trainings and initiatives for children and youth.

Before that, Derina ran her own play therapy practice working predominately with children and young people in the inner city and other disadvantaged areas of Dublin. Derina obtained her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Psychology from University College Dublin, and studied Play Therapy and Psychotherapy at the Children's Therapy Centre with Eileen Prendiville.

Derina's research interests lie in collaborative and person-centred research, primarily in the qualitative realm, focusing on the lives of marginalised groups, particularly children and young people, migrants and refugee populations.

Derina is currently a Research Fellow with the Equality Office, providing project management on the Inclusive Curriculum Project, and Research Project Manager for Connecting Nature, a 12m H2020 innovation project in the School for Natural Sciences. She also lectures on the Trinity Elective, Forced Displacement, and on child psychology in DCU and Marino IT, teaches research methods and supervises final year masters dissertations at the Children's Therapy Centre.

Publications and Further Research Outputs

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Johnson, D. & Gilligan, R., Youth agency in everyday precarity: the experiences of young migrants and refugees growing up on the Thailand-Myanmar border, Journal of Youth Studies, 2020 Journal Article, 2020 DOI

Discovering Culturally Appropriate Psychosocial Care for Children and Young People in, editor(s)Kathleen Allden and Nancy Murakami , Trauma and Recovery on War's Border: A Guide for Global Health Workers, New Hampshire, University Press New England, 2015, pp109 - 140, [Johnson, D., Thawda, L., Thwe, S., Hay Mar San ] Book Chapter, 2015

Non-Peer-Reviewed Publications

Smith, K., Ní Raghallaigh, M., Johnson, D., and Izzeddin, A., Invisible People: The Integration Support Needs of Refugee Families Reunified in Ireland, Cork, Nasc , 2020 Report, 2020 URL

Derina Johnson, Adul Sam-on: the stateless boy who survived the Thai cave - and helped with the rescue, 2018, - Miscellaneous, 2018

Research Expertise


IMMIGRANTS; Refugees; resilience; social research; youth; Youth transition


Awards and Honours

PhD thesis passed with no corrections 2018