Posted on: 8 February 2024

Dr Shona Herron, Clinical Psychologist at CNWL's Harrow Home Treatment Team has published her research on a new clinical tool for measuring experiences of emptiness in The British Journal of Psychiatry.

Emptiness is a difficulty commonly reported by people struggling with their mental health, and has been shown repeatedly to be strongly related to risk, including self-harm, suicidality as well as harmful use of drugs and alcohol.

The new research published last week has now created a fully validated measure to assess a person’s experience and level of emptiness. The measure, The Psychological Emptiness Scale, has been created over the last 4 years as part of a collaboration between UCL and University of Dundee. This scale can now be used to support researchers, clinicians and services to ask about this experience, assess risk and evaluate interventions and services.

Dr Herron said, “Emptiness is a distressing experience for many people – and particularly those who struggle severely with their mental health. We are incredibly excited at being able to share our published measure as this now opens the door for real progress in this area. With a good scale, we can now assess, measure and study this elusive feeling which will allow researchers and clinicians to better understand this experience and develop our treatments and services to better address this deeply painful feeling.”.

For the full article, see: The Psychological Emptiness Scale: a psychometric evaluation | BJPsych Open | Cambridge Core where a full copy of the Psychological Emptiness Scale can also be found.

Please also do not hesitate to contact Dr Herron ( directly for any queries about the scale, how it can be used and for support with its application in your settings.