Dr. Tonia Nicholls

Dr. Tonia L. Nicholls is an Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser University, and Distinguished Scientist at the Forensic Psychiatric Services Commission, BC Mental Health & Substance Use Services. In 2015 she received a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Foundation Scholar Award. Her research has been funded by from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Mental Health Commission of Canada. She has published over 100 articles, books and chapters and is a co-author of the START and the START: Adolescent Version. Her scholarly work earned her three ‘Brain Star’ awards from the Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health, and Addictions (CIHR), the American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions, the Canadian Psychological Association President’s New Researcher Award and the Chad Buckle Visiting Fellowship in New Zealand. Dr. Nicholls’ research examines the intersections of law and mental health related to the provision of services to marginalized populations (e.g., homeless mentally ill individuals, forensic psychiatric patients, civil psychiatric patients, inmates). She is particularly interested in the assessment and treatment of violence and criminality and the development and implementation of evidence-based practices that support patient-centred, trauma-informed, strengths-based care.

Her publications have covered diverse topics including inpatient aggression in psychiatric settings, women in conflict with the law, psychopathy, the potential contribution of protective factors to the violence risk assessment field, and intimate partner violence. She has been active in knowledge exchange, publishing several manuals to inform evidence-based practice and being actively engaged in large-scale implementations and evaluations including measures to inform: violence risk assessments (Short-Term Assessment of Risk and Treatability (START), Webster, Martin, Brink, Nicholls, & Middleton, 2004; Webster, Martin, Brink, Nicholls, & Desmarais, 2009; START: Adolescent Version (START:AV) Abbreviated Manual, Nicholls, Viljoen, Cruise, Desmarais, & Webster, 2010; START:AV full manual, Viljoen, Nicholls, Cruise, Desmarais, & Webster, 2014), mental health screening in correctional settings (Jail Screening Assessment Tool (JSAT), Nicholls, Roesch, Olley, Ogloff, & Hemphill, 2005) and assessments and safety planning with women coping with or escaping intimate partner abuse (Decision-making In Abusive Relationships Interview (DIARI, Nicholls, Hilterman, Tengstrom, 2010). In 2007, she received a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Career Scholar award (2007-2013). She also presently holds a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) New Investigator salary award (2011-2016). Dr. Nicholls has published 93 chapters, articles and books, presented >85 workshops in Canada, the US, and Europe, and has been invited to give keynote lectures for several national and international organizations including IAFMHS, ANZAPPL, Correctional Service of Canada, and the gender institute of CIHR.

  • Short-Term Assessment of Risk and Treatability