Julia McNeil

Ph.D. Candidate, Clinical Psychology

Julia completed her B.A. in Honours Psychology at the University of Waterloo in 2012 and M.A. in Social Psychology at the University of Toronto in 2014. She is currenly completing her Ph. D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Waterloo while being supervised by Dr. Uzma Rehman.

Julia's current research is focused on how early experiences of sexual trauma affect long-term romantic relationships. Studies have shown that experiences of sexual abuse is common, with some estimates suggesting that up to 33% of women have experienced some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18. These early childhood traumas are often associated with long-term difficulties with interpersonal relationships. For example, individuals who have been sexually abused as children have higher rates of divorce, they report having less satisfying relationships, and they often report lower sexual satisfaction with romantic partners. Julia's research aims to better understand the mechanism behind these interpersonal difficulties in order to help individuals with a history of abuse have more fulfilling romantic relationships.

In addition to her work on sexual trauma and romantic relationships, Julia is interested in research on attachment styles, positive illusions, research methodology, replication in psychology, and sexual communication.

Julia's current study is based on a theory suggesting that negative long-term relationship outcomes associated with childhood sexual assault are due to emotional avoidance and suppression. This theory guided her study which is examining the associations between early traumas and an individuals ability to cope with intense emotions. Additionally, the study will also examine how these early experiences affect coping strategies in adulthood. Finally, these differences in emotional processing, and coping strategy, will then be used to predict relationship outcomes. Julia's research is funded by the SSHRC.

Currently, Julia's clinical interests are focused on helping individuals who are suffering from depression, and individuals who have experiences of trauma.

Outside of school, Julia is a big fan of live theatre, she regularly goes skating, and she is a big fan of board games.

Selected Publications and Presentations


Balan. D., Rehman, U., Sutherland, S., & McNeil, J. (In Press). Understanding Barriers to Sexual Communication. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

McNeil, J., Rehman, U. S., & Fallis, E. (2018). The influence of attachment styles on sexual communication behavior. The Journal of Sex Research, 55(2), 191-201.


Zabara, N., McNeil, J., Adams, K. & Moscovitch, D.A. (accepted). How do we stay safe? Grouping safety behaviours in social anxiety. Poster to be presented at the Canadian Association of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapies Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in May, 2018.

McNeil, J., Rehman, U., & Fallis, E. (2016). The Association Between Sexual Satisfaction and Sexual Problems Over Time. Poster session presentation at the annual Canadian Sex Research Forum meeting, Fredricton, NB. Best Poster Presentation Award.

Balan D., Sutherland S., McNeil, J., & Rehman, U. (2016) Understanding barriers to sexual communication. Poster session presentation at the annual Canadian Sex Research Forum meeting, Quebec, ON.

McNeil, J. & Schimmack U. (2014). False Positive-Psychology: Positive Interventions Lack Credible Evidence of Effectiveness. Poster session present at the Fifteenth Annual Meeting of The Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Austin, TX.