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Dr. Derina Johnson
Research Fellow, Social Studies


Derina is a recent PhD graduate of the School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin, where she studied under the supervision Professor Robbie Gilligan. Her PhD research explored the lived experience of young migrants and refugees growing up in legal and social marginalisation on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Derina's thesis passed with no corrections at her Viva Voce in February 2018.

Her PhD was motivated by the three years Derina spent living on the Thailand-Myanmar border as field director for a small mental health organisation. In collaboration with local refugee and migrant groups, Derina worked on developing culturally appropriate and sustainable psychosocial care programmes, trainings and initiatives for children and youth.

Prior to her work in Thailand, 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 is currently the Research Coordinator for the Children's Research Network which will soon be hosted at the Trinity Research in Childhood Centre. Derina also acts as project manager for the CONSEED H2020 research project in the School of Social Sciences and Philosophy (Economics). In her spare time, she is working on publications from her PhD, and lecturing on the BEd Psychology module in DCU.

Publications and Further Research Outputs

Peer-Reviewed Publications

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

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