Dr Ryan San Diego

PhD in Health Psychology, MSc in Clinical Psychology


Ryan is a lecturer in Social and Community Health at the School of Population Health. He graduated from a clinical psychology programme in the Philippines in 2008 and came to New Zealand to undertake his postgraduate studies.

He completed his PhD at the Department of Psychological Medicine and the Liggins Institute, at the University of Auckland and his VPG studies at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in clinical education and human factors in healthcare at the School of Medicine, at the University of Auckland.

Ryan is now the convenor of addiction studies in the medical programme. His main professional interests include health psychology, cognitive neuropsychology, mental health, and psychological practice.

He has worked intensively in the areas of addiction treatment, community mental health, and mental health in children and young people. Prior to his present post, he was a lecturer of Addiction Studies, Youth Development and Counselling at Wellington Institute of Technology (New Zealand), and senior lecturer both at the undergraduate and graduate levels at Miriam College and De La Salle University (Philippines).

Research | Current

  • Validation of BRIEF-P in at-risk young children (with Dr Trecia Wouldes and Liggins Institute)
  • Validation of strengths and difficulties questionnaire in at-risk young children (with Dr Trecia Wouldes and Liggins Institute)
  • Framework analysis of voice behaviours in healthcare (2020-2021- Principal researcher)
  • Compassion and clinical communication in Alcohol & Other Drugs simulation (2020-2021 - Principal researcher)
  • Smoking and drinking patterns in early onset dementia in New Zealand  (2020-2021 with Dr Gary Cheung - Psychological Medicine)

Teaching | Current

Alcohol and Other Drugs Curriculum in Medical Programme

  • Theme 1: AOD in the general population
  • MBChB year 2 - Theme 2: Addiction, addictive behaviours and the role of the medical doctor
  • MBChB year 3 - Theme 3: Clinical interviewing and communication skills in AOD
  • MBChB year 4 - Theme 4: Screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment
  • MBChB year 5 - Theme 5: Understanding and managing addiction and drug seeking behaviours
  • Theme 6: Application of strategies in clinical settings

Postgraduate supervision

  • Kitty Ko (supervisor) - Doctor of Philosophy, University of Auckland, New Zealand
  • Zeddy Chaudhry (co-supervisor) - Doctor of Philosophy, University of Derby, United Kingdom 
  • Dr Janak de Zoysa (co-supervisor) - Master in Clinical Education (2019), University of Auckland, New Zealand


  • Rukuhia Leadership - Māori Cultural Award 2017 - Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei (Aotearoa New Zealand)
  • Universitas 21 Mobility Grant 2016 - University of Edinburgh (Scotland, United Kingdom)
  • International Young Fellow Award 2015 CDS Jacobs Foundation (Ohio, United States of America)
  • CHYLD-Liggins Scholarship 2013 - Liggins Institute (New Zealand)
  • University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship 2013 - 2016 (New Zealand)
  • University of Auckland  Doctoral Top up Scholarship 2016  (New Zealand)
  • Student Choice Award - Best Teaching Staff - DLSU CED 2013 (Philippines)
  • Faculty Teaching Award - SCC 2007 (Philippines)


Convenor of Alcohol and Other Drugs (Addictions) Curriculum in Medical Programme 

Areas of expertise

Alphabetical order:

  • Applied social and developmental - health psychology 
  • Brief interventions and motivational interviewing
  • Child and family studies / mental health in children and young people
  • Community mental health and recovery
  • Cross-cultural psychology in health and well-being 
  • Developmental cognitive science in clinical and non-clinical groups
  • Professional practice and development of health professionals
  • Psychology of addictive behaviours and co-existing disorders
  • Psychology of trauma and abuse

I am keen to supervise or co-supervise postgraduate applicants (domestic or international) if your masters thesis or PhD topic fits within the list:

  • Self-management and perceptions of chronic illness (heart disease, stroke, cancer, infections, diabetes, dialysis)
  • Children and young people's experiences of acute or chronic illness (pain, birth complications, cancer, diabetes)
  • Recovery from addictive behaviours with co-existing mental issues 
  • Lifestyle change and recovery of those who experienced moderate and severe mental illness
  • Assessments in developmental, neuropsychological and in health and well-being
  • Implementation and evaluation of therapeutic and/or community health services
  • Migrant acculturation, lifestyle and well-being
  • Mental health in children and young people
  • Assessments and correlates of clinical performance of health professionals
  • Well-being and work environment of health professionals

Committees/Professional groups/Services


  • MBChB Phase 2 - Curriculum 
  • MBChB - Board of Examiners 
  • FMHS - Assessment Sub committee 
  • Member - Centre for Addiction Research (CFAR), University of Auckland

Peer Reviewer:

  • Journal of Child and Family Studies
  • Frontiers in Pediatrics

Clinical services / Professional groups:

  • Registered Intern Psychologist - New Zealand Psychologists Board (NZPB)
  • Member - New Zealand Psychological Society (NZPSs)
  • Registered Psychologist - Philippine Regulation Commission (PRC)
  • Member - Psychological Association of the Philippies (PAP)
  • AOD Clinician - Wings Trust, New Zealand

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

Contact details

Office hours

Thursdays and Fridays

8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Primary office location

M&HS BUILDING 507 - Bldg 507
Level 1, Room 1001
New Zealand