Chris Bowden

Dr Chris Bowden profile picture

Lecturer School of Education


PhD (Health) Victoria University of Wellington; MA, BA Hons (I) Otago


Chris received his PhD in Health from Victoria University of Wellington in 2017. His PhD focused on understanding young men’s experience of losing a close male friend to suicide. Chris completed his undergraduate studies in education and psychology at Otago University focusing on child and adolescent development. Chris has been lecturing in the School of Education at Victoria University of Wellington since 2004. He teaches in the undergraduate BA Education and MEdPsych post-grad programmes. He teaches in courses that focus on human development, adolescent and youth development and child and adolescent mental health.

Early in his career he managed a national research project on resiliency the role of early childhood education in supporting the development of family/whanau resilience. Later he worked for Suicide Prevention Information New Zealand and the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand as an information officer and community educator.

Chris has been working in the area of suicide prevention and postvention for two decades. He provides community and professional education locally and nationally and works closely with suicide prevention and postvention services providing advice and guidance. He has authored various government reports on suicide prevention; presented conference papers, symposia and hui. He developed New Zealand’s first nation-wide psycho-educational programme for adults bereaved by suicide (Waves) in conjunction with Skylight Trust. Chris co-facilitated this programme for many years using his educational skills to help people learn about grief and how to cope with suicide bereavement. He has now turned his focus to conducting evaluative research on the programme and its impact.

Research interests

Suicide Bereavement, Grief and Loss, Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care, Youth and Men’s Mental Health, Coping and Resiliency, Educational interventions (psycho-educational and therapeutic), Transformational Learning and Post-Traumatic Growth

Current research focus

Suicide bereavement in particular (children, young people’s and men’s experiences), suicide prevention and postvention strategies, trauma and educational interventions.

Supervision interests

Chris is willing to take on postgraduate students who are interested in:

  • exploring adolescent and youth issues (particularly those relating to mental health and wellbeing)
  • using qualitative research methodologies (in particular phenomenology or case study)
  • descriptive and interpretive phenomenology, the study of lived experience
  • evaluating educational interventions (including psycho-educational and other programmes)
  • coping and resiliency.

Current supervisions

  • Brunskill-Matson, S. (2017–). Young suicide-loss survivors experience of care and support (Ph.D, secondary supervisor).
  • Lynch, T.E. (2017–). Parent’s responses to relational bullying: Involvement, intervention and intergenerational continuity. (PhD, secondary supervisor).

Completed supervisions

Master’s thesis completions
  • Burnett, L. (2016—MEd). Working with trauma: health professionals’ experience of supporting children and young people who have experienced trauma (Primary supervisor).
  • Dravitzki, T. (2015—MEd). An interpretative phenomenological analysis of being religious in emerging adults within a tertiary education setting (Primary supervisor).
  • Muaiava, A. (2015—MA). Imprisonment: Young Pacific women’s experiences of living with depression.
MEdPsych Applied Research Project completions (EPSY 516/533)
  • Asprey, H. (2017). Growing up with a sibling with a disability: A retrospective descriptive phenomenological study.
  • Guilfoyle, L. (2017). Adolescent’s experiences of anxiety at secondary school: A descriptive phenomenological analysis.
  • Linehan, A. (2017). What works?: Experiences of support in parents with a child with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
  • Merson, K. (2017). Young women’s experiences of parental imprisonment.
  • Moore, A. (2017). Male student’s experiences of peer support in the High School classroom.
  • Robinson, D. (2017). Trauma-informed teaching in a New Zealand Health School.
  • Telford, S. (2017). You belong to me: Sense of belonging in people from Assyrian refugee-background.
  • Walker, D. (2017). Tertiary student’s experience of mindfulness-based mobile apps.
  • Banks, A. (2016). Secondary teachers’ experiences of supporting students with mental health issues.
  • Drayton, R. (2016). LGBTQI+ youth’s experiences of Project Youth.
  • Thomson, V. (2016). Male secondary school students’ experiences of help-seeking.
  • Cooper, E. (2014). Experiences of change in a psycho-educational programme for adults bereaved by suicide.
  • Crawford, R. (2014). A qualitative study of EGALA facilitator’s beliefs and practices for building confidence in children: A single case study.
  • Gunn, J. (2014). Coping strategies of adults bereaved by suicide: A pre-test post-test design analysis of a psychoeducational programme.
  • Kaushik, S. (2014). Primary caregiver’s knowledge, attitudes and beliefs in relation to adolescent depression: A New Zealand sample.
  • Lathong, N. (2014). Grief experiences of participants in a psycho-educational programme for adults bereaved by suicide.
  • Lynch, T. (2014). Parents responses to cyberbullying in secondary students. (secondary supervisor).
  • Brown, K.J. (2013). Men’s experiences of a psycho-educational programme for adults bereaved by suicide: An interpretative phenomenological analysis.
  • Cullen, R. (2013). Participants’ perceptions of the important components of a psycho-educational programme for adults bereaved by suicide.
  • Harcourt, S. (2013). It is everyone’s problem: Parents’ experiences of bullying. (secondary supervisor).
  • Pentecost, B. (2013). Learning experiences in Waves: A psycho-educational programme for adults bereaved by suicide.

Distinctions / honours

  • 2013—Victoria University of Wellington Award for Most Inspiring Lecturer in the Faculty of Education, Victoria University of Wellington.
  • 2012—Teaching Excellence Award, Victoria University of Wellington.
  • 2008—Victoria University of Wellington Award for Best Lecturer in Faculty of Education, Victoria University of Wellington.
  • 1992—Awarded George Young Award in Arts, University of Otago.

Committees / professional groups / services

  • (2016–) Mental Health Foundation Suicide Bereavement Service Advisory Group, New Zealand.
  • (2014–) Elected to Regional Child and Youth Mortality Review Group, Capital Coast District Health Board and Hutt Valley District Health Board, Wellington.
  • (2007–) Advisory group member for Traveller’s Programme (Skylight) for year 9 secondary school students experiencing life challenges and difficulties in adjustment.