Henry (Raffles) Cowan

Henry (Raffles)  Cowan
  • Assistant Professor
  • Clinical Science


PhD, Psychology, Northwestern, 2022

MA, Psychology, Northwestern, 2018

Hon. BSc, Psychology and Criminology, University of Toronto, 2010


Curriculum Vitae: Henry Cowan


I take a person-centered approach to understanding risk, resilience, and recovery from serious mental illness (e.g., schizophrenia). I believe we can understand these conditions best by understanding the people living with them: who they are, how their life experiences have shaped them, and how they make sense of themselves and their experiences. To examine these questions, I combine methods from clinical, personality, and developmental psychology.

Self-Concept, Narrative Identity, and Well-Being

What is a coherent sense of self, and why would you want one? Personal beliefs and stories have the power to undermine our coping resources or give us strength to overcome adversity. My research examines self-referential processes that link self-beliefs and narrative identity (personal identity expressed in life stories) to well-being and functional outcomes. This research connects basic processes (e.g., neurophysiology, predictive coding, semantic speech features) to everyday experience in sociocultural context (e.g., thoughts, feelings, relationships, life stories). I am especially interested in longitudinal studies of how these mechanisms play out over time, on time scales from days to decades.

Development of Psychotic Disorders

How do perceptions and understanding of oneself change during the development of serious mental illness? My research focuses on youth at clinical high risk for psychotic disorders and on individuals in the early course of psychotic disorders. I examine how negative self-beliefs, stigmatization, and vulnerable narrative identities interact with symptoms and functional impairment as psychotic disorders develop. The goal of this research is to improve early assessment and intervention for psychotic disorders by understanding the subjective life experiences of those affected. 

Structural Modeling of Psychopathology

What do we mean when we talk about a psychotic disorder developing? The developmental processes that lead to various forms of mental illness are still poorly understood. Toward that end, I work on structural modeling to create reliable transdiagnostic frameworks of risk for serious mental illness. For instance, my work has shown that nonpsychotic experiences like depression and anxiety are important risk factors for psychotic disorders. Future work will also examine how subjective life experiences interact with these symptom structures to influence mental health over time.

In addition to my research work, I am a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in psychological assessment, early intervention for psychotic disorders, cognitive behavior therapy for depression and anxiety, and dialectical behavior therapy for personality disorders.


Dr. Cowan will be accepting applications for graduate students for the Fall 2025 admissions class. Learn more here about applying.