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Alison Niccols


Dr. Niccols completed her Ph.D. in Clinical Developmental Psychology, and won the Doctoral Dissertation Prize for her research on persistence and independence in young children with Down syndrome.  She is a registered psychologist and the Clinical Director of the Infant-Parent Program, an early intervention program for high-risk infants, where students and other learners are trained in clinical or research placements.  She has developed and evaluated new interventions for families of young children, such as two evidence-based, award-winning parent groups (“COPEing with Toddler Behaviour” and “Right from the Start”).  She is a an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University and a Core Member of the Offord Centre for Child Studies who is an active researcher and recently was the principal investigator on a CIHR Emerging Team Grant to study ways to improve services across Canada for women with substance abuse issues and their young children.

Featured Publications

  • Sword, W., Niccols, A., Yousefi-Nooraie, R., Dobbins, M., Lipman, E. & Smith, P. (2013).  Partnerships Among Canadian agencies serving women with substance abuse issues and their children. International Journal of Mental Health & Addition, 11(3), 344-357.
  • Niccols, A., Milligan, K., Smith, A., Sword, W., Thabane, L., & Henderson, J. (2012).  Integrated programs for mothers with substance abuse issues and their children:  A Systematic review of studies reporting on child outcomes. Child Abuse & Neglect, 36, 308-322.
  • Niccols, A., Milligan, K., Chisholm, V., & Atkinson, L. (2011). Maternal sensitivity and aggression in young children with Down syndrome. Brain and Cognition, special section on Human aggression and victimization: Genetic, neurobiological, and neuroendocrine considerations, 77(2), 153-158.
  • Niccols, A., Dobbins, M., Sword, W., Smith, A., Henderson, J., & Milligan, K. (2010).  A National survey of services for women with substance use issues and their children in Canada in 2007:  Challenges for knowledge translation and exchange. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 8(2),310-319.
  • Niccols, A.  (2009). Immediate and short-term outcomes of the “COPEing with Toddler Behaviour” parent group.  Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50(5), 617-626.
  • Niccols, A.  (2008). “Right from the Start:” Randomised trial comparing an attachment group intervention to supportive home visiting.  Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49(7), 754-764.

Clinical and Research Interests


  • Ph.D., Clinical Developmental Psychology, York University, 1995

Research Areas

Infant/child development, infant mental health, high risk populations, parent-child interaction, early intervention, and knowledge translation. 

Current Grants:

Milligan, K., Sword, W., Niccols, A., Lipman, E., & Smith, A. Development of a treatment strategy for promoting resilience and positive mental health outcomes in children and youth of mothers with addictions.  Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health Knowledge Exchange Initiatives grant, 2011-2012, $32,600.

Niccols, A., Dobbins, M., Sword, W., Henderson, J., Smith, P., Thabane, L., Dewit, D., Lipman, E., Milligan, K., Jack, S., Schmidt, L., & Dooley, M.  Optimizing the health of women with substance use issues and their children. Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Team Grant – Emerging: Knowledge Translation in Mental Health and Addiction, 2008-2013, $1,447,990.

Rosenbaum, P., Lach, L., Kohen, D., Nicholas, D., Garner, R., Birnbaum, R., Saini, M., McNeill, T., Brehaut, J., Collin-Vezina, D.., Niccols, A., & MacKenzie, M. Parenting matters!  The biopsychosocial context of parenting children with neurodevelopmental disorders in Canada. Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Team Grant– Brighter Futures for Kids with Disabilities, 2009-2012, $869,939

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