“I want to make a difference in this world!” Pioneering psychologist shortlisted in British Council Alumni Awards

  • Date

    Fri 15 Feb 19


An Essex graduate has been selected as national finalist for the British Council Alumni Awards.

Dr Alexandra Pentaraki, a clinical psychologist from Greece, completed a Masters Degree at Essex in Cognitive Psychology in 2002 and has dedicated her career to helping vulnerable people with mental health issues as well as working as an expert witness in civil and criminal courts.

Alexandra was delighted to be chosen as a finalist. She said: “I feel very honoured and proud of this achievement. I believe that this award also reinforces my efforts and career in psychology within Great Britain and internationally.”

Alexandra is the founder of Brain Matters Institute; an organization dedicated to the practice, learning and promotion of psychological science. She is a Chartered Psychologist and An Associate Fellow of The British Psychological Society. From 2012-2016 she was an Honorary Lecturer, Applied Psychology & Mental Health, of The University of Liverpool, UK and she was also teaching psychology at the University of Roehampton, UK. From April 2018 she has taught psychology and public health on University of Essex Online.

Her work as an expert witness involves psychological profiling of children, adolescents and adults, cases of child abuse, custody evaluations, family violence, those who have been subjected to abuse and violence, trauma, immigrants, asylum seekers, brain injury, neuropsychological assessments, children's and adults' cognitive and psychological development, criminal cases and witness preparation.

She is a registered expert witness in Greek courts and in The International Criminal Court, The Hague and she travels a lot in order to perform her work internationally.

“My love for knowledge sparked my interest in psychology,” Dr Pentaraki said “I want to make a difference in this world!”

Alexandra’s journey to transforming lives through psychology started as an undergraduate psychologist in Greece. During her studies she volunteered to work with people with schizophrenia at a rehabilitation clinic and used cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help patients solve everyday problems, such as getting the bus and talking to others, which aided their gradual return to being an active member of their community.

She also started to work with children and study their cognitive development such as memory processes, their moral development and their ability to recognize deception.

After finishing her undergraduate degree in Greece, Alexandra was eager to hone her skills as a psychologist and completed a Masters in Psychology at Essex in 2002.

She said: “I gained a high-quality education in psychological science both in theory, clinical practice and research developments at Essex and I had the opportunity to meet pioneers in psychological science that inspired me to continue my studies in psychology further through a PhD. I was very lucky that I studied psychology in one of the most significant departments of psychology in the UK with excellent academics and researchers.”

As a PhD student in Psychological Medicine at King’s College London, Alexandra was honoured with the Young Scientist Award for her research on the link between memory impairment and schizophrenia.

Since 2009, Alexandra has worked at a private practice and specialises on the treatment of people who suffer from panic attacks and depression. She also gives a number of successful speeches and workshops to increase awareness of psychological issues.

She describes completing her Masters and PhD degrees and her work as an expert witness as some of the proudest moments of her career.

She said: “Among the many moments in my career, I felt most proud when my clients told me that I had helped them significantly with their issues. This gave me inspiration to continue my work as a clinician.

“If I could see one big change in the world, I would find ways for everyone to live peacefully and with no abuse on this planet!”

“Love, hope and action are the only solutions! I believe that this motto is the only way forward in life.”

The British Council Alumni Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of alumni and showcase the impact and value of a UK higher education.

This year, more than 1200 university graduates from more than 100 countries across the world applied for the awards.

The winner will be announced in March. Winners will then go on to compete for the prestigious Global Alumni Award with the global winner being announced in April.