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Dr. Karen Milligan profile

Dr. Karen Milligan, C.Psych.

Associate Professor and Director of Clinical Training
EducationPhD, University of Toronto
Phone416-979-5000 x7054
Areas of Expertisechildren; emotion regulation; executive function; maternal substance use; school-based mental health; treatment research


Dr. Milligan completed her PhD in School and Child Clinical Psychology at the University of Toronto in 2004 and has worked as a psychologist in hospital and community settings, most recently as Director of Research and Psychology at Integra (now part of the Child Development Institute), a children’s mental health program for children with mental health and co-occurring learning disabilities.

Her research and clinical interests focus on children with self-regulation disorders and information processing challenges (e.g., mental health plus learning disabilities, ADHD, substance-exposed children). She examines the impact of treatments on emotion regulation and executive functions using behavioural and psychophysiological measures (e.g., EEG, ECG). She is also actively involved in implementation science research and stakeholder informed evaluation as a means of enhancing service delivery to meet the needs of children and families.


  1. Treatment for Women with Substance Abuse Issues and their Children – this research investigates integrated/comprehensive treatment programs for pregnant and parenting women with substance abuse issues. The focus of this work is on defining treatment models of integration and examining child and parenting outcomes associated with these programs.
  2. Integra Mindfulness Martial ArtsTM (Integra MMA) – a treatment for youth with self-regulation disorders that integrates mindfulness, cognitive therapy, and behaviour modification into martial arts training.  Dr. Milligan and her team are exploring the implementation of Integra MMA in clinic and school-based settings and interested in changes in emotion and self-regulation.  This work is being conducted in collaboration with Integra, Point in Time Centre for Children, Youth and Parents and Trillium Lakelands District School Board.
  3. Mental Health Training for School Personnel – Dr. Milligan and her team are currently conducting a multisite evaluation of Collaborative Problem-Solving, a treatment approach that focuses on assisting children in building skills that may be underlying behavioural challenges in the school. This work is being conducted in collaboration with Point in Time Centre for Children, Youth and Parents and Trillium Lakelands District School Board.

Dr. Milligan welcomes inquiries from students interested in assisting with these projects. 


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.