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Dr. Karen Milligan profile

Dr. Karen Milligan, C.Psych.

Associate Professor
EducationPhD, University of Toronto
Phone416-979-5000 ext. 557054
Areas of Expertisechildren; emotion regulation; executive function; maternal substance use; school-based mental health; treatment research


Dr. Milligan’s research is focused on improving understanding of how an individual’s cognition and emotion regulation abilities impact on their mental health and well-being and applying this knowledge to community-based intervention. She works with populations who often experience challenge in these areas associated with neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g., learning disabilities, ADHD) and substance use/mental health challenge. She also integrates an understanding of other social determinants of health (e.g., social support, housing and food security etc.) into this work. Using a strength-based approach, Dr. Milligan regularly partners with community treatment agencies, policymakers, and individuals/families themselves to explore these questions and to implement and evaluate innovative interventions that attend to these factors. She is particularly interested in integrated treatments that bridge social, education, and health systems. Currently, her work focuses on two primary populations: mothers with problematic substance use who are parenting young children and youth with learning disabilities and co-occurring mental health challenges.

In addition to her research, Dr. Milligan is a registered psychologist. She works with children, adults, and families and has a particular interest in working with individuals who are experiencing co-occurring learning and mental health challenges. She is also the Director of Clinical Training for Ryerson’s CPA Accredited Clinical Psychology Graduate Program and a clinical supervisor for clinical psychology students at the Ryerson Psychology Training Clinic.

Please visit Dr. Milligan’s lab website – Child & Family WISE (previously the Child Self-Regulation Lab)– for more information on current projects, members of the lab, and how you can get involved!

Selected Publications

Milligan, K., Usher, A., & Urbanoski, K. (in press). Supporting substance use recovery in pregnant and parenting women by addressing emotion regulation and executive function needs. Addiction Research and Theory.

Meixner, T., Milligan, K., Urbanoski, K. & McShane, K. (in press). Conceptualizing integrated service delivery for pregnant and parenting women with addictions: Defining key factors and processes. Canadian Journal of Addictions.

Khoury, J. E. & Milligan, K. (in press). Comparing executive functioning in children and adolescents with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A meta-analysis. Journal of Attention Disorders.

Milligan, K., Phillips, M., & Morgan, A. S. (2016). Tailoring social competence interventions for children with learning disabilities. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 25, 856-869.

Milligan, K., Miscio-Wolfe, M., Irwin, A., Hamilton, L., Mintz, L., Cox, M., Gage, M., Woon, S., & Phillips, M. (2016). Mindfulness enhances use of secondary control strategies in high school students at risk for mental health challenges. Mindfulness, 7, 219-227.

Khoury, J. E., Milligan, K., & Girard, T. (2015). Executive functioning in children and adolescents prenatally exposed to alcohol: A meta-analytic review. Neuropsychology Review, 25, 149-170.

Milligan, K., Badali, P., & Spiroiu, F. (2015). Using Mindfulness Martial Arts to address self-regulation challenges in youth with learning disabilities: A qualitative exploration. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24, 562-575.