Colleen Doyle, PhD, who joined the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences as an Assistant Professor on December 15, 2023, was on the road to becoming a poet early in her career. “I was really interested in exploring from a creative writing framework how we become who we are,” she said. “Discovering developmental science gave me tools to pursue that question more systematically.”

Doyle (pictured above with husband Andrew and son Jack) grew up in the Twin Cities but left to pursue a writing career with stints in New York City, Chicago, and Boston. “As I got more insight into pursuing a degree in developmental psychology, I loved what the program at the U of M offered,” she said. “It's been the number one program for almost a century and was the best place to get my training.”

She went on to earn her PhD and MA in Child Psychology from the U. During her doctoral training, she obtained a National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship and an interdisciplinary research grant through the Center for Neurobehavioral Development and Masonic Children’s Hospital. “I did almost all my practicum work with Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences faculty members who I now get to call colleagues,” said Doyle. “That experience helped me understand what a career would look like in this field. It also helped me appreciate that I wanted to be part of an academic medical center — not just to do research and clinical work but also because I love training and teaching and wanted to pass on the great experiences I got to have.”

Colleen Doyle

Doyle (pictured here) is an instructor in the Infant & Early Childhood Education Mental Health Master's program at the U’s Institute of Child Development. “I really enjoy teaching in this program because I work with practitioners from multiple backgrounds – case managers, social workers, early education childcare providers and teachers, nurse practitioners or pediatricians – and I help equip them to leverage and embed infant and early childhood mental health principles in their existing professional roles and practice settings.”

Part of her educational experience included working with the newly birthed M Health Fairview Women’s Wellbeing Program, where she is now starting her own clinical practice. “Being with the Women's Wellbeing group enables me to provide care that can impact two generations, which is really rewarding.”

Doyle works primarily with parents and infants during the perinatal period, which includes birthing moms, parents, and non-gestational parents and caregivers. “It involves a range of referral questions around the transition to pregnancy and parent-infant relational health … whether it's managing parent mental health concerns such as symptoms of anxiety, depression, trauma, or obsessive compulsive or panic disorders, or supporting adjustment to the postpartum period, the parenting role, or the parent-infant relationship.”

On the research side, thanks to a collaboration between Hennepin Healthcare and the U of M Women's Wellbeing group, Doyle is helping with a study that is trying to understand how precision psychiatry can benefit women during the perinatal period. The research team recently wrapped up data collection and is starting to analyze it. She is also working on a grant with pediatric neurologist Sonya Wang, MD. Their focus is on how to support parent-infant dyads who experience premature birth.

In her spare time, Doyle enjoys cooking and baking and spends a lot of time with her family. “We have a five-year-old and will soon welcome a second kiddo,” she said. “We live close to the lakes in the Twin Cities and love being outside.”

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