bacp : research
small fontClick here to return to the default sized textsmall fontClick here to view the page in a medium sized fontsmall fontClick here to view the page in the largest font, this is for use by people with sight disabilities

Research Conference 2009  


BACP's 15th Annual Research conference was entitled 'Research relationships' and took place on 15-16 May 2009. It was held at Marriott Hotel, Portsmouth, in association with The University of Portsmouth.

Click here for an evaluation of this year's conference



Pre-conference Workshop  

Sue Wheeler and Michael Barkham

Professional Role: Director of Counselling and Psychotherapy (SW)
Institution: University of Leicester (SW)
Contact details: Institute of Lifelong Learning, 128 Regent Road, Leicester, LE17PA

ABSTRACT: Pre conference workshop (Thurs, 18.00 - 20.00)

Keywords: supervision, research, network

A collaborative research network for supervision

Research topic for workshop: In October 2008, the presenters were successful in their bid to BACP for funds to set up a Supervision Research Network. The mission statement for the Network is to promote good quality practitioner supervision research, both nationally and internationally, with the aim of improving practice. The Network will both seek funding and conduct supervision research themselves and also support others in developing and organising supervision research projects. The primary objective of the workshop is to put together a plan for a project that many collaborators can contribute to through a practitioner network. There may also be time to look at supervision projects currently in progress as well as potential projects that might link to the collaborative project. If any potential participants already have ideas for supervision research projects, they are requested to send their research ideas or proposals to the presenters prior to the conference so that they can structure the discussion appropriately. The network will have the potential of working together on projects or aspects of projects in order to maximise the potential for credible research that is coordinated and not fragmented into small projects that have little impact. This event is an important part of this strategy and anyone interested in supervision research should attend.

This workshop will formally launch the supervision research network that will undertake the groundwork in building a research agenda for supervision.

Structured activity during workshop: The workshop will be partly experiential. Ideas will be generated and research methods discussed. Relationships will be formed that can result in collaborative research enquiries.

Key points for discussion:

  • What are the current needs in developing quality practitioner supervision research?
  • How can we effectively develop a supervision researcher practitioner network?
  • What research is currently being undertaken in supervision research?
  • What opportunities are there for collaborative research projects in supervision?

Biographical details will be available as a handout

Friday Keynote

Professor Peter Fonagy

Professional Role: Freud Memorial Professor of Psychoanalysis and Head of Research Department
Institution: Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology at University College London
Contact details: Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT

Friday keynote speaker (Fri, 09.30 - 10.15)

Can mentalization provide a common framework for the psychotherapies?

The issue of common factors in psychological therapies remains an important question for both the research and the clinical community. The proliferation of effective therapies raises the issue of genuinely active mechanisms as opposed to hypothesised processes of change. A group of us have for some years argued that an improved capacity to conceive of behaviour in oneself and in others in terms of mental states (mentalizing) may be an important ingredient in a number of psychological therapies. We have developmental evidence which links this capacity to attachment relationships with mentalizing assumed to develop in the context of attachment relationships. Independently many have considered attachment to be a critical ingredient in the therapeutic process. Certain disorders, for example borderline personality disorder, have been characterised by a deficit in mental state understanding and attribution. Mentalization-based treatment (MBT) is a particular form of therapy which focuses on enhancing an individual's capacity to understand and use mental states and has been shown to be effective in treating this disorder in both day hospital and outpatient settings. In addition it can be argued that many evidence-based treatments for other conditions that appear to involve a deficit in mentalizing such as posttraumatic stress disorder are specifically helped by interventions that enhance an individual's capacity to mentalize, albeit in the framework of a cognitive-behavioural intervention. Finally, a more general argument can be made that identifies a role for mentalization in most therapies that make use of the interpersonal relationship between patient and therapist. In this context psychopathology can be viewed as a temporary and partial loss of the capacity to evaluate the contents of one's own mind. This ‘loss of calibration' drives patients to seek guidance or feedback from another person in relation to their thoughts and feelings. The social ecology of therapy in this sense serves to recreate the frame within which knowledge of one's own mind was acquired in childhood and achieves re-equilibration following the onset of symptomatic or personality oriented difficulties.


Saturday Keynote

Professor Paul Gilbert

Professional Role: Professor of Clinical Psychology
Institution: Derbyshire Mental Health Trust & University of Derby
Contact details: Mental Health Research Unit, Kingsway Hospital, Kingsway, Derby, DE22 3LZ

Saturday keynote speaker (Sat, 09.25 - 10.10)

Introduction to compassionate focussed therapy: research and outcome

This talk will outline the emergence of compassion focused therapy from a number of different sources including: Evolutionary and developmental psychology (such as attachment theory), Neuroscience, and a number of Eastern and Western therapeutic schools and approaches. Its basic premise is that we have at least two different types of positive emotion regulation system. One is linked to drive and excitement and the other is linked to contentment, well-being calm and peacefulness. The second system is strongly linked to attachment. People who come from neglectful or abusive backgrounds struggle with activating the second system and therefore have difficulties in self-soothing and generating states of peacefulness and ‘calm mind' within themselves. Compassion focused therapy is aimed to stimulate this particular affect processing system. Our research however has shown that some people are, alarmed and anxious when experiencing emotions linked to compassion, warmth and caring and these need to be addressed before the person is able to work effectively with self-soothing. The talk will outline some limited research into process and outcome with the recognition that this approach to therapy is transdiagnostic and transtherapy.

Azizah Abdullah

Professional Role: PhD Student
Institution: University of Strathclyde, Glasgow
Contact details: Counselling Unit, Faculty of Education, University of Strathclyde, 76 South Brae Drive, Glasgow, G13 1PP

ABSTRACT: Poster (Sat, 10.10 -10.55)

Keywords: person-centred therapy, creative therapies, helpful aspects, young people

Practitioners` experience of using creative approaches in person-centred therapy with young people: helpful aspects

Aim/Purpose: This study attempts to find out about creative practices used in person-centred therapy with young people aged between 10 and 16, and practitioners' experiences and perceptions of why such creative work might be helpful. The study also investigates what types of creative practices are employed by person centred therapists (e.g. drawing, art and crafts, play) with this client group and the kinds of young people for which the practices may be most suitable.

Design/Methodology: This study was conducted through in-depth interviews with 20 experienced person-centred therapists across the UK. Ethical approval was obtained from the Department of Educational and Professional Studies, University of Strathclyde.

Results/Findings: The person-centred practitioners believed that creative practices were helpful in their work by being an alternative form of communication, facilitating spontaneous expression, helping to express inner feelings, facilitating self-disclosure, enhancing the relationship, and allowing clients the opportunity to act out and break the boundary.The kinds of creative practice that have been used are arts, play and expressive media. Some creative practices are integrated with others while others are utilised in isolation.

Research Limitations: Participants for this study were person-centred practitioners who use any creative medium with young people aged 10 to 16. In order to gather a wider finding, participants were recruited from different parts of the UK. As this is a preliminary study and due to time, cost and travelling constraints, the number of participants was restricted to 20, all of who agreed to participate.

Originality/Value: The current study is the first attempt to empirically examine creative practices in the field of person-centred therapy. It builds on - and integrates, for the first time - the works of such authors as Virginia Axline, Clark Moustakas, Garry Landreth, Natalie Rogers, Liesl Silverstone and Michael Behr.

Conclusions/Implications: It is hoped that the findings from this research will help therapists from person-centred and others theoretical background to develop and refine their use of creative techniques in this area. This presentation will also consider the implications of the findings for the development of creative work in counselling with young people particularly to adapt and adopt within the author's own context: Malaysia.

References available on request, please email

back to top

Joe Armstrong

Professional Role: Lecturer in Counselling
Institution: Tayside Institute for Health Studies, University of Abertay Dundee
Contact details: Tayside Institute for Health Studies, University of Abertay Dundee, Level 3, Kydd Building, Bell Street, Dundee, DD1 1HG

ABSTRACT: Paper (Sat, 11.55 - 12.25)

Keywords: paraprofessional counsellors, volunteers, effectiveness, CORE, mental health

Are minimally trained/experienced volunteer mental health counsellors equally effective?

Background: Some counsellors consistently produce better outcomes regardless of theoretical orientation or type of client problem, while others consistently produce negative outcomes. Yet, the differential effectiveness of counsellors has been a neglected topic of investigation for counselling researchers, especially in relation to minimally trained/experienced paraprofessional counsellors. Such research can enhance understanding of counsellor characteristics, such as levels of training, experience, and skill to client improvement and deterioration in counselling.

Aim/Purpose: To examine variability in client outcomes within a group of volunteer mental health counsellors who did not hold a professional qualification in counselling/psychotherapy or a mental health discipline, and had less than 150 hours of counselling practice experience.

Design/Methodology: A benchmarking strategy was used to evaluate the outcomes achieved by participants in this study against three benchmark studies, selected from published literature, involving professional counsellors. The participants were 12 minimally trained/experienced volunteer mental health counsellors (10 females and two males, mean age of 44yrs), working within a community-based mental health agency. The CORE-OM was used to collect data before and after counselling from 171 clients over one year. Biographical information was collected on a range of counsellor characteristics. Ethical approval was obtained from the Ethics Committee of the School of Social and Health Sciences, University of Abertay Dundee.

Results/Findings: Clients presented with a range of problems and levels of distress, which were similar in the benchmark studies. Paraprofessionals counsellors were less effective than professional counsellors (effect size of .70 compared to effect sizes of 1.36, 1.39 and 1.42 in the selected benchmark studies). Paraprofessionals varied in their effectiveness (effect sizes ranging from .96 to .21). More effective paraprofessionals appeared to be adept at engaging clients in therapy, and managing and negotiating the process of counselling with their clients.

Research Limitations: Relatively small sample size. Some counsellors contributed more CORE-OM data, which may have distorted the results. Case mix was not controlled for.

Originality/Value: No previous studies have examined differential effectiveness in minimally trained/experienced paraprofessional counsellors.

Conclusions/Implications: The implications of these findings for further research, selection, training, and the work of paraprofessional counsellors will be discussed.

back to top

Lisa Bent, Tony Donohue and Pepe Jansz

Other Authors: Paul Badham, Ian Holt, Suzi Mackenzie and Jacqui Neil

Professional Role: Counsellors in Training / Higher Professional Diploma Students
Institution: Lewisham Counselling and Counsellor Training Associates
Contact details: c/o Chris Brown LC&CTA B215a Lewisham College, Lewisham Way, London, SE4 1UT

ABSTRACT: Poster (Fri, 10.15 - 10.45)

Keywords: dysmorphic, self-harm, person-centered, behavioural, effectiveness

Is the person-centred approach overlooked in the treatment of body dysmorphic disorder and self-harm, if so, why?

Aim/Purpose: We aimed to discover if the Person-Centred Approach (PCA) is routinely offered to clients with Self-Harm (SH) or Body Dysmorphic (BDD) disorders; to discover if the approach is deemed/has proven to be effective in the treatment of such disorders.

Design/Methodology: We designed a mixed method approach; using empirical phenomenology (Moustakas, 1994) to analyse the data from six semi-structured interviews held with field practitioners. Quantitative data was also gathered via an on-line multiple choice questionnaire sent to field practitioners/agencies; this data, statistically analysed, appeared to support our qualitative findings.

We followed the BACP Ethical Guidelines for Researching Counselling and Psychotherapy (Bond, 2004).

Results/Findings: Findings generally indicated that counsellors/organisations select their treatment approach for clients with SH and BDD based on empirically researched evidence of effectiveness.

Although it appears the PCA along with other approaches, are employed in the treatment of SH - matching its diverse aetiology - no example of the PCA being extended in conjunction with the treatment of BDD emerged.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy appear the primary choice of treatment approaches for BDD as these approaches are empirically proven effective in the treatment of the disorder.

Research Limitations: Time and funding restraints limited our research and the lack of documented evidence that the PCA is being extended in the treatment of BDD restricted our insight into its potential effectiveness in treating the disorder.

Originality/Value: Findings indicate the extension of the PCA in the treatment of BDD is an under researched area, whilst it is deemed to be an effective approach for clients with SH. Given the ‘crossover' behaviours in both disorders - for example the self-harm element which exists within BDD - findings further appear to highlight that this situation needs to be rapidly addressed.

Conclusions/Implications: We urge PCA therapists to generate additional evidence based practice projects which explore the effectiveness of the approach in treating both BDD and other disorders. An undertaking we find ironic considering Rogers was the first psychotherapist to provide any empirical evidence on the effectiveness of counselling itself (Rogers, 1959).

References available on request, please email

back to top

Jill Brennan and Freda Jones

Professional Role: Counsellor Consultant (JB), Principal Cognitive-Behavioural Therapist (FJ)
Institution: Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust
Contact details: c/o Dept of Clinical Psychology, North Manchester General Hospital, Central Drive, Crumpsall, Manchester

ABSTRACT: Poster (Fri, 10.15 - 10.45)

Keywords: program development, integrative, group, self-esteem, collaborative, research process, client feedback

Interdisciplinary development of a transdiagnostic integrative group intervention for low self-esteem in a clinical setting

Aim/Purpose: This research aimed to develop a collaborative group of clinicians in a busy adult mental health practice setting to develop a program for low self-esteem which would engage and benefit clients across a range of diagnoses and complex presentations. The study aimed to integrate various models and interventions for low self-esteem into a manualised format in preparation for a quantitative evaluation, and to document and describe the above process to pass on to other clinician-researchers.

Design/Methodology: The collaborative group explored models in use across individual disciplines and introduced them to each other. Using feedback from existing individual clients on effective and unhelpful interventions for self-esteem and drawing upon past group work experience, a 10 session group format was developed.

Over three years, using a cycle of client feedback, and post-session reflection, the content and structure was systematically edited and the team reflected on their learning processes around collaboration. Client progress was routinely monitored using standard measures available in this practice environment.

Results/Findings: The preliminary results include the development of the program format into "manual" form, indicate that client feedback was robust but generally positive, and group completion rates were at 70%. These preliminary results will provide the basis for an evaluation of the study, subject to confirmation of LREC approval

Research Limitations: This is the development stage of a small scale research project and the program has yet to be fully evaluated.

Originality/Value: This ‘pre-research' phase is where many of the difficulties of designing and carrying through research arise, particularly for isolated clinician researchers.

This study documents a pragmatic case study of a collaborative program, originating from and shaped by the demands of a practice setting as opposed to researcher-led development, and it is based on client feedback at every stage. Furthermore, in clinical practice, clients tend to present with complex issues and/or at a rate too low to effectively provide dedicated groups. This study takes a more collaborative approach in exploring the development of effective integrative group interventions.

References available on request, please email

back to top

Dr Nell Bridges

Professional Role: Lecturer
Institution: The University of Bristol
Contact details: University of Bristol, Senate House, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol, BS8 1TH

ABSTRACT: Theoretical and methodological innovation paper (Sat, 11.55 - 12.25)

Keywords: relational research, postmodern narrative, researcher/researched/reader, BACP Ethical Framework, ethical repertoire

Multiple relationships in postmodern narrative research: a reflection on emerging ethical challenges

Background and introduction: In researching the struggles of counsellors to uphold ethical practice despite external pressures to the contrary, I was alert from the outset to the need for sensitivity and awareness with regard to the relationship between the researcher and the researched. Such attentiveness is part and parcel of a counsellor's work and so easily translates into the ethical repertoire of a counselling practitioner/researcher.

However, as this research progressed, a number of additional, and sometimes unexpected, relationships became apparent, each also requiring sensitivity and consideration. These included relationships between the contributors and their clients, between the contributors and readers and between readers and the researcher.

Theoretical/Methodological argument/Perspective: In this paper I will trace the emergence of these relationships and describe how they informed my research decisions and how this process related to the requirements of the BACP Ethical Framework as well as to my choice of a postmodern narrative methodology. As Cooper and Rowan (1999: 2) had pointed out, finding "a way of embracing contemporary critical thinking without losing the human being in the process," had become my challenge.

Conclusion and relevance to counselling and psychotherapy research practice: Although research such as this inevitably has many unique elements and aspects, there is also much that can be usefully shared with other counselling and psychotherapy researchers. This presentation will raise awareness of a number of relational concerns and will explore potential ways of responding to them.

Cooper, M. and Rowan, J. (1999) Introduction: Self-plurality - The one and the many, in J. Rowan and
M. Cooper (eds.), The Plural Self: Multiplicity in everyday life. London: Sage.

back to top

Sally Chisholm

Professional Role: Person Centred Practitioner
Institution: University of Bristol
Contact details: Dunston Hole Farm, Dunston Rd, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, S41 9RL

ABSTRACT: Paper (Sat, 14.50 - 15.20)

Keywords: animals, anthropocentric, connecting, encounter, relationships

Complexities of the web: what might we as practitioners learn from creature to creature relationships?

Aim/Purpose: Counselling tends to privilege ‘human' ways of relating, yet we are a ‘species' of mammals who have shared this planet as part of nature for seven million years. Without our fellow species we are not more, but less human.

The aim of this research was to uncover what might arise from ‘creature to creature' (animal/human) relationships to inform how we relate as ‘creature to creature' in counsellor/client relationships?

Design/Methodology: Using a bricolage of narrative inquiry and autoethnography underpinned by grounded theory and heuristic processes, three research ‘conversations' were undertaken with people who had ‘working' relationships with bats, snakes and reptiles and horses. Analysis was achieved through entering into reflexive relationships with both the ‘topic' and ‘transcripts'.

The study has aimed for ‘trustworthy' (BACP, 2004) and ‘honourable' (West, 2007), research and research relationships.

Results/Findings: The findings are re-presented in artful and ‘performative' ways, creating poems and pieces from the transcripts and experiences. Inviting the reader to encounter, relate and complete the experience. Linking Weber's idea of, ‘webs of significance', which transform ‘a search for laws' to ‘a search for meanings'. (Geertz, 1973)

Research Limitations: By privileging human respondent's stories, there is an incomplete picture. The focus was on relationships, which were ‘healing' or ‘beneficial', ignoring what might be learnt from relationships which are harmful, neglectful or where no connection occurs.

Originality/Value: It is uncommon for the therapeutic profession to draw upon occurrences in the wider, wilder, natural world. This research adds in innovative ways to a growing interest in both performative methodologies and relationships with the environment and nature.

Conclusions/Implications: Potentially hierarchical and anthropocentric practices were highlighted. The use of language and labels of ‘counsellor/client' were signified as possibly unhelpful. Might we also consider elements of ‘guardianship', which could inform our practice? To acknowledge that by truly listening to our clients they can show us the way to work with them. To recognise the importance of the ‘gift of connecting' and attempt to have an ‘affinity' with our clients is also highlighted. Perhaps the work we do ‘in the room' may be only "50% of the work'? Finally self care of the counsellor may need to include welfare of the soul.

References available on request, please email

back to top

Mick Cooper

Professional Role: Professor of Counselling
Institution: University of Strathclyde
Contact details: Counselling Unit, University of Strathclyde, 76 Southbrae Drive, Glasgow, G13 1PP

ABSTRACT: Paper (Fri, 14.15 - 14.45)

Keywords: relational depth, therapeutic relationship, therapeutic alliance, process-outcome research, new developments

Working at relational depth in counselling and psychotherapy: new research findings

Aim/Purpose: Relational depth can be defined as: ‘A state of profound contact and engagement between two people' (Mearns and Cooper, 2005, xii). Following the publication of Mearns and Cooper's Working at Relational Depth in Counselling and Psychotherapy, several other researchers have undertaken in-depth empirical investigations of this phenomenon, most of which remains unpublished. The aim of this paper is to summarise this research, focusing on four specific questions: What do we know about the nature of relational depth? Do clients experience relational depth with their therapists and what is this experience like for them? Do clients and therapists experience relational depth at the same time? And, what can we say about the relationship between moments of relational depth and outcomes?

Design/Methodology: This paper is based on a narrative review of approximately 10, recently conducted, research investigations.

Results/Findings: Key findings include:

  • Relational depth does appear to be a distinctive phenomenon
  • Some clients do seem to experience moments of relational depth with therapists
  • Pilot research indicates considerable synchrony in therapists' and clients' experiences of relational depth
  • There are some initial indications that experiences of relational depth in therapy are associated with positive outcomes

Research Limitations: Although there is a growing body of literature on clients' experiences of relational depth, much of this comes from research using therapists' experiences as clients. There is a need, therefore, for more data on the experiences of ‘bona fide' clients.

Originality/Value: This is the first study to review, and present, the findings of several new and unpublished studies into the phenomenon of relational depth.

Conclusions/Implications: It has been argued by Mearns and Cooper, as well as several other authors, that moments of relational depth are a key ingredient in therapeutic healing. Drawing on recent evidence, this narrative review helps clarify an understanding of such moments, and provides some preliminary support for this hypothesis. The implications of this research is that allowing moments of relational depth to emerge - and developing the skills to do so - may be a key element in the practice of therapy and the training of therapists.

References available on request, please email

back to top

back to top

Mick Cooper, Susan Pattison, Kaye Richards, Karen Cromarty and Katherine McArthur

Other Author: Nancy Rowland

Professional Role: Professor of Counselling (MC)
Institution: University of Strathclyde (MC)
Contact details: Counselling Unit, University of Strathclyde, 76 Southbrae Drive, Glasgow, G13 1PP

ABSTRACT: Paper (Sat, 11.20 - 11.50)

Keywords: counselling in schools, randomised controlled trial, efficacy of counselling, person-centred counselling, children and young people

The development of a randomised controlled trial to assess the efficacy of counselling in schools

Aim/Purpose: Mental health problems in young people are increasing, with one in ten in the UK now experiencing a diagnosable mental health problem. A growing body of evidence suggests that school-based counselling services may make a significant contribution to the amelioration of such difficulties (see Cooper, 2004; 2006), but this has yet to be evaluated through the ‘gold standard' of empirical inquiry: the randomised controlled trial (RCT).

This paper presents a report on the first stages of the development of a pilot for such an RCT.

Design/Methodology: The basic design for the pilot trial is outlined: a comparison of six weeks of person-centred/humanistic school counselling against six weeks of waiting-list for approximately thirty 13-16 year olds on measures of emotional distress. Design issue that will be discussed include: objectives, protocols, hypotheses, recruitment, ethical considerations, inclusion/exclusion criterion, clinical assessment, randomisation, manualisation, sample size, outcome measures and analysis.

Results/Findings: No outcomes from the pilot trial are currently available. However, initial data on recruitment and informal feedback on the progress of the trial will be presented.

Research Limitations: This presentation discusses a work in progress rather than a completed study, as we are approximately five months in to the twelve month pilot trial.

Originality/Value: This is the first attempt to undertake a randomised controlled trial of counselling within a UK secondary school setting. More broadly, it is one of the few studies within the UK counselling field that adopts an RCT design.

Conclusions/Implications: For government bodies such as NICE, therapeutic practices can only be deemed effective if they are tested - and proven to be efficacious - in randomised clinical trial. As such, the present pilot study is a first step on a programme of research that has the potential to make a major impact on the provision of counselling within UK secondary schools. More than that, through helping the UK counselling research community to develop its competence regarding randomised controlled trials, it is hoped that the present study will lead the way in establishing counselling research studies that have the potential to impact significantly upon UK mental health policy.

References available on request, please email

back to top

Susan Cornforth and Elizabeth Freire

Other Author: Rachel MacLeod

Professional Role: MSc Student, Counsellor in private practice (SC)
Institution: University of Strathclyde
Contact details: University of Strathclyde Counselling Unit, Jordanhill campus, 76 Southbrae Drive, Glasgow, G13 1PP

ABSTRACT: Paper (Fri, 14.50 - 15.20)

Keywords: social anxiety, hermeneutic single case efficacy design, person-centred therapy, outcome

Did the client change? Person-centred therapy with a client experiencing social anxiety difficulties

Aim/Purpose: Very little research has been carried out to examine the effectiveness of classical person-centred therapy in working with people who experience social anxiety difficulties. In this presentation, the Hermeneutic Single Case Efficacy Design research method (HSCED) is used to introduce the collected data of one client who participated in the classical person-centred arm of the University of Strathclyde's Social Anxiety research project. The audience will be invited to actively participate in the HSCED by answering the question "Did the client change substantially over the course of therapy?"

Design/Methodology: The HSCED (Elliott, 2002) offers an approach to evaluating the efficacy of therapy in single cases. Elliott et al. (2003) further developed this research method by proposing a Legal Model for data analysis in HSCED investigations: affirmative and sceptic cases are collected, organised and presented to a panel of judges, who must consider the data in terms of the central research questions. In this presentation, affirmative and sceptic arguments will be put forward to the audience who will be invited to adjudicate on the first HSCED research question: "Did the client change substantially over the course of therapy?" This investigation was approved by the University of Strathclyde ethics committee.

Results/Findings: Preliminary analysis of the quantitative and qualitative data collected from the client in this case study suggests that evidence exists for the creation of equally persuasive affirmative and sceptic arguments. This will present a challenge to the audience, as judges, who will be asked to make a finding on the evidence presented to them.

Research Limitations: This research is based on a single case study. The extent to which its findings may be generalised will only be known when further research of this type is carried out.

Originality/Value: The study employs an innovative research method. In this presentation, the audience will have the opportunity to experience and participate in this research method in action.

Conclusions/Implications: This study brings us closer to answering the question: is classical person-centred therapy an effective way of working with people who experience social anxiety difficulties?

References available on request, please email

back to top

Susan Dale and Tony Thornton

Professional Role: Counsellor (SD)
Institution: University of Bristol (SD)
Contact details: Bron-yr-Aur, Pennal, Machynlleth, SY20 8QA

ABSTRACT: Paper (Sat, 12.30 - 13.00)

Keywords: co-research, narrative, emancipatory, visual impairment

The twilight zone: using narrative practices to co-research the experience of living with a visual impairment

Aim/Purpose: Researching with ex-counselling clients is always ethically challenging, and is usually undertaken with careful consideration to maintaining client anonymity. This research however takes a different stance, and we have chosen to co-research and present together narratives of the experience of sight loss in ways that we consider are emancipatory and include both the counsellor and the client's perspective.

I met Tony whilst working as a counsellor. We talked together on and off over a period of two years about his experiences and how he had battled all of his life with:

Having ideas and passion about the world;
But not having a voice.
Feeling impotent and frustrated with societies' inability to include him,
or other people with differing abilities.
About being patronized, put down, ignored,
And how these things made him feel,
And what might help;
When the feelings were just too overwhelming.

We talked about social injustice and how social change might happen, our conversations were rich with ideas; and we shared feelings of sadness and anger at encountering a world of ‘apathy' and where we felt often unable to make change

Design/Methodology: The presentation will take the form of a co-constructed audio-narrative, and we hope that this will give you a glimpse into the lived experience of people who are visual impaired and challenge some of the taken for granted discourses that place much emphasis on diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation but give no voice to people living with low vision.

Results/Findings: We consider that constructing narratives from our experiences, and presenting them together blurs the distinction between researcher and researched, and gives voice to people living with, rather than those who treat, people affected by sight loss.

Research Limitations: By concentrating on the subjective ‘particularities' of unique lived experience, objectivity and generalisation are not possible.

Originality/Value: The presentation uses ‘audio-narrative' in order to be accessible, and to challenge societal reliance on text based research, thus enabling the client to be ‘visible'.

Conclusions/implications: The presentation explores the ethical implications for conducting research with ex-counselling clients who feel ‘disempowered by society' in ways that ‘give voice' to the client and issues that are important to them, and highlights the interface between counselling and narrative research practices.

References available on request, please email

back to top

Anne Davis

Other Author: Dr Ladislav Timulak

Professional Role: PhD Student
Institution: Trinity College Dublin
Contact details: Dept. of Psychology, Aras an Phiarsaigh, Trinity College, College Green, Dublin 2, Ireland

ABSTRACT: Poster (Fri, 10.15 - 10.45)

Keywords: religion, spirituality, best-practice, clients, therapists

Religion and spirituality in ‘secular' therapy: where research and practice meet - a pilot study

Aim/Purpose: The aim of this study is to test a proposed model of best practice, which can be incorporated into the therapist's current practice when dealing with those clients for whom religious/spiritual issues are relevant.

Based on previous research, (Knox, Catlin, Casper & Schlosser, 2005; Richards & Bergin, 2000; Young, Wiggins-Frame & Cashwell, 2007; Worthington et al., 2007; Rosen-Galvin, 2005; Rose, Westefeld & Ansley, 2001) the following variables will be examined in terms of their relationship to a preference for discussing religion/spirituality in therapy: personal religious and spiritual beliefs of clients and therapists and therapists training and supervision experiences pertaining to religion and spirituality.

Using semi-structured interviews this study will investigate how these issues present in therapy, what facilitates or inhibits both clients and therapists raising these issues and how discussions of religion/spirituality are experienced in terms of being helpful or unhelpful and their contribution either positively or negatively to therapeutic progress.

Design/Methodology: This pilot study utilises a mixed-methods design using standardized self-report questionnaires and a semi-structured interview. 20 recent graduates of an MSc. Counselling Psychology Course participated in this study either from their experiences as a therapist or client. Quantitative data was gathered in order to ascertain the variables which may contribute to the inclusion of religious/spiritual material in therapy from the perspective of clients and therapists. Qualitative data from twelve participants was extrapolated and used to refine a proposed model of best practice when religious or spiritual material presents itself in therapy.

Results/Finding: The findings of this study will be discussed in terms of the proposed model of best practice.

Research Limitations: This study is limited to recently graduated Counselling Psychologists some of whom have participated from their experiences as clients and may not represent the ‘average' client.

Originality/Value: Therapists are often unsure how to deal with religious/spiritual material in therapy and this research aims to bring a model of best practice which can enhance therapy for clients.

Conclusions/Implications: This study has implications for the training of psychotherapists and counsellors in terms of religion and spirituality.

References available on request, please email

back to top

Cemaliye Deran, Michelle Denny-Browne and Serena Mullings

Other Authors: Charlotte Poole, Soraya Bedja-Johnson, Thomas Joseph and Lyla Smith-Abass

Professional Roles: HPD in Counselling Students / Volunteer Counsellors
Institution: Lewisham Counselling & Counsellor Training Associates (LC&CTA)
Contact details: c/o LC&CTA Chris Brown, Room B215a, Lewisham College, Lewisham Way, London, SE4 1UT

ABSTRACT: Poster (Sat, 10.10 - 10.55)

Keywords: Black-men, schizophrenia, misdiagnosis, culture, disproportionate

Is the diagnosis of schizophrenia as valid in the African-Caribbean male population as it is in the general white population in the UK, and if not, why not?

Aims/Purpose: Accumulating evidence indicates neuro-development and excessive cannabis use for example, are not necessarily responsible for the higher comparative rates of schizophrenia in UK African-Caribbean males, as has been hypothesised.
Socio-economic and environmental influences appear to play a more significant role in Black-men being diagnosed with schizophrenia. Our study aimed to further explore these possibilities; to provide more insightful explanations for this higher relative rate of diagnosis.

Design/Methodology: Eight clinicians working with Black males diagnosed with schizophrenia were interviewed 1:1 and ten questionnaires were returned to us from practitioners also in the field.

Empirical phenomenology (Moustakas, 1994) was employed to analyse our data and we generalised our findings by highlighting the mutual themes evident in this data.

We followed the BACP Ethical Guidelines for Researching Counselling and Psychotherapy (Bond, 2004).

Results/Findings: Results strongly indicate that (i) Black men do not engage with mental health services at the onset of any mental distress, therefore, their symptoms are ‘presented ‘late'; this in itself appears to often lead to compulsory sectioning under the Mental Health Act. (ii) The Western medical model of schizophrenia appears to be contributing to Black-men being disproportionately diagnosed with schizophrenia because it does not take Black male cultural constructs and historical experience into account.

Research Limitations: Our project was limited by time and resources and due to ethical considerations sufferers themselves could not be interviewed.

Originality/Value: This research appears to provide us with (i) additional information as to why a disproportionate number of UK Black-men are diagnosed with schizophrenia, (ii) how vital it is to take cultural values/experiences into consideration before diagnosing schizophrenia (or other mental disorders).

Conclusions/Implications: Further research is imperative because accounting for not only the values but the history of any disadvantaged UK ‘sub-group', before the diagnosis of any mental disorder, may have a profound impact on the number of misdiagnosed cases caused by the fundamental misunderstanding of cultural constructs/experiences. Finding ways to encouraging Black males to share any mental distress with professionals far earlier, appears to be vital.

Our findings appear to suggest that the diagnosis of schizophrenia in UK Black males is not as valid as it is in the general White population.

References available on request, please email

back to top

Carolann Driffield and Dr Lynne Gabriel

Professional Roles: Research Assistant (CD), Counsellor educator (LG)
Institution: York St John University, York, UK
Contact details: Counselling Studies, Faculty of Business and Communication, York St John University, Lord Mayor's Walk, York, YO31 7EX
Email: /

ABSTRACT: Brief communication session (Fri, 15.45 - 16.00)

Keywords: dual roles, ethics, research-relationships, power, trust

Managing the transition from a student-tutor relationship to co-researcher roles

Aim/Purpose: This project set out to investigate Can/How can students and tutors move into co-researcher roles? It considered the transition from a student-tutor to a co-researcher relationship and examined challenges that the individuals encountered in making transitions across the roles. The project identified ethical challenges in the roles and relational issues associated with power, trust, autonomy and authority.

Design/Methodology: A qualitative approach explored experiences of managing transitions across one matched pair - one tutor and one student - involved in student-tutor and co-researcher roles. Data included material from a University Enquiry Based Learning event, a recorded research conversation and journal extracts. Data generated were subjected to thematic analysis. Extant relevant literature on dual relationships and relevant pedagogical issues was consulted.

Results/Findings: The findings suggest that a dialogical approach facilitates an ethically mindful relationship between student-tutor and indicate that:

  • assumptions should not be made that student-tutor roles can easily transit to co-researcher roles;
  • there can be tension or conflict, for both the student and the tutor, in managing the dual roles;
  • there are benefits in being able to voice, on an ongoing basis, and communicate tension associated with the dual roles;
  • there are personal relational challenges in experiencing the two roles within the one tutor or one student and,
  • ongoing boundary negotiation and management are crucial to the success of the dual roles.

Research Limitations: This is a small-scale, contextualised inquiry of local significance and cannot be generalised to all counsellor training in HE settings.

Originality/Value: The findings are of value to counselling research, particularly that undertaken in courses within the Higher Education (HE) sector. Within that sector, there are increasing expectations that students and tutors will collaborate in knowledge exchange/knowledge generation. The project provides a positive, proactive and ethically mindful model for managing and supporting transitions between the dual roles of student-tutor and co-researchers.

Conclusion/Implications: Within the HE sector there is an increase in student led work and concomitant pressure for tutors to engage with students as co-researchers. Minimal attention has been given to the implications of the dual roles generated. The research considers key questions and issues that might emerge for students and tutors managing the transition from a student-tutor relationship to co-researcher roles.

back to top

Dr Linda Dubrow-Marshall and Professor Rod Dubrow-Marshall

Professional Role: Counsellor (Cardiff University) and Visiting Fellow in Psychology (University of Glamorgan); Dean of Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (University of Glamorgan)
Institution: Cardiff University and University of Glamorgan; University of Glamorgan
Contact details: 70 Merthyr Road, Pontypridd, CF37 4DD
Email: /

ABSTRACT: Paper (Fri, 11.40 - 12.10)

Keywords: harmful groups, undue influence, domestic violence, psychotherapy cults, treatment approaches

Integrative treatment for survivors of abusive groups and relationships - lessons from multiple contexts and multi-axial accounts

Aim/Purpose: This paper will examine an integrative treatment approach used to assist survivors of abusive groups and relationships, including domestic violence. Evidence is presented from selected, composite case studies, which demonstrates the application of a trans-theoretical and trans-diagnostic counselling approach for addressing the complex multi-axial psychopathology presenting in these clients.

This research draws on work in the domain of undue influence and abusive groups (cf. Aronoff, Malinoski & Lynn, 2002), trans-diagnostic approaches to treatment (cf. Fairburn 2008; 2007), and trans-theoretical concepts (cf. McLeod, 2003; Prochaska, Norcross & DiClemente, 1994).

Design/Methodology: Case studies are presented of clients that have been treated by the lead researcher and whose anonymity has been completely protected, as well their permission given during their treatment for anonymised reporting of their symptoms, aetiology and treatment. The composite case studies have been carefully chosen to represent a small stratified sample of clients who have suffered abuse in either one to one relationships or in group settings, and the treatment approach used relates dynamically to the complex symptoms.

Results/Findings: Case studies of survivors of abusive groups and relationships present a complex psychopathology that is multi-axial in its domains, including post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, and dissociation, along with features of borderline, dependent, and narcissistic personality disorders. An integrative treatment approach was used, incorporating a specialist psycho-educational component to address the inter-relational dynamics at the core of the abusive relationship, while simultaneously attending to the whole person in the counselling relationship, with efficacious outcomes for clients.

Research Limitations: Case studies are presented without control groups, and researcher biases must be taken into account.

Originality/Value: The comparison between survivors of abusive groups and relationships allows for a deeper appreciation of efficacious treatment for both populations.

Conclusions/Implications: Survivors of abusive groups and relationships bring a variety of individual dynamics to the psychotherapeutic relationship and present challenges to treatment because of the multi-axial presentation of psychological difficulties. An efficacious integrative model of working with this population has implications for our understanding of the relationship between undue influence and psychological harm that can be applied to broader samples of clients.

References available on request, please email

back to top

Kim Etherington

Professional Role: Professor of Narrative and Life Story Research and private practitioner
Institution: University of Bristol
Contact details: 11, Old Sneed Park, Bristol, BS9 1RG

ABSTRACT: Paper (Fri, 11.05 - 11.35)

Keywords: research relationships, transcriber's role, traumatic stories, witnessing, narrative analysis

Working with traumatic stories: from transcriber to witness

1) To show the impact on a transcriber involved in narrative inquiry, and the need for researchers to consider ethical responsibilities ‘to do no harm'.
2) It also describes and explores the effect on the participant, and on the quality of data, when the researcher takes back the transcriber's responses to the participant as part of an unfolding process of data gathering and analysis.

Design/Methodology: This paper is based on a spontaneously arising aspect of one of eight participants' stories gathered as part of a narrative inquiry into the lives and identities of people who have been traumatised in childhood and subsequently misused drugs (Etherington, 2007). Ethical approval was gained through Faculty and Departmental ethics process of the University of Bristol and in line with BACP guidelines.

1) Offers some ways to address the ethical implications in using unsupervised/unsupported people to transcribe traumatic material.
2) Shows how the transcriber's witnessing of participant's stories, when taken back to the participant, enabled the researcher to validate her interpretations and check the focus of her analysis, in line with the participant's expectations: it also helped the participant develop new stories of resourcefulness and strength.

Research Limitations: This kind of research requires mutual and sincere collaboration, over time - which maybe be a limitation for some researchers. Researchers need enough awareness to recognise the impact of their own stories on the material that is gathered.

Originality/Value: This work raises issues of methodological interest that have received little attention in previous literature and describes a creative and spontaneously arising method.

1) Ethics committees could focus researchers' attention towards transcribers as potentially vulnerable persons. In cases where the researcher has no contact with the transcriber it may be enough to raise ethical awareness, thus allowing researchers to consider their individual circumstances and how they might best act within their ethical frameworks.
2) These ideas may encourage researchers to trust their instincts to guide them when stepping into unknown territory.
3) ‘Taking-it- back' practices (White, 1995; 2000) assist and enhance the quality and depth of the data, and extends the usual concepts of ‘member checks'.

References available on request, please email

back to top

Julie Folkes-Skinner

Professional Role: Lecturer in Psychodynamic Counselling & PhD Student
Institution: University of Leicester
Contact details: Leicester Institute for Lifelong Learning, University of Leicester, Vaughan College, St Nicholas Circle, Leicester, LE1 4LB

ABSTRACT: Poster (Sat, 10.10 - 10.55)

Keywords: change, training, trainees, mixed method

The early effects of professional counsellor training: a mixed method study

Aim/Purpose: To identify trainee characteristics and changes experienced during their first term.

Design/Methodology: The participants in the study consisted of 63 trainees, enrolled on four professional counsellor training programmes at two British universities. Trainees completed four questionnaires during their first term. Qualitative interviews with seven individual trainees from the same cohort were conducted over a three week period at the end of term. Data was analysed using IPA and SPSS.


  • Most trainees are idealistic and have personal histories of positive relationships, personal therapy, bereavement, childhood trauma and abuse.
  • Training is preceded by recent stressful life events.
  • Trainees commence training in a state of change.
  • Training is stressful early on but trainees cope well.
  • Training accelerates self/orientated and self/other change from the outset.
  • Self/orientated change and self/other change are central to trainee experience.
  • Helpful aspects of training courses are those that support change; unhelpful aspects are those that obstruct it.

Research Limitations: Other factors that have not been investigated may be responsible for some of the changes identified. This study may not be representative of counsellor training in other training institutions.

Originality/Value: Few studies have been conducted on the impact of professional training on trainees (Bischoff et al., 2002; Orlinksy and Ronnestad, 2006). Unlike this study, these have relied upon retrospective accounts of training. Few investigations have attempted to examine the experience of trainees at the start of training, with the exception of Turner et al. (2008), and Howard et al. (2006) who analysed journal entries. No other studies have been found that use mixed methods to examine trainee characteristics and experience. This study is also one of a few British studies to be undertaken (see Turner et al., 2008; Truell, 2001).

Conclusions/Implications: The personality of each trainee is at the heart of the process of training. How changes are integrated into the self may depend on prior experiences and relationships but also on the ability of courses to facilitate and instigate change. Trainees expect the training to help them to change, to become not only excellent therapists but better people.

This study is being part funded by a BACP Seed-Corn Research grant

References available on request, please email

back to top

Elizabeth Freire

Other Author: Michael Hough

Professional Role: Researcher and Associate Lecturer
Institution: University of Strathclyde
Contact details: 76 Southbrae Drive, Glasgow, G13 1PP

ABSTRACT: Paper (Sat, 11.55 - 12.25)

Keywords: person-centred counselling, counselling in schools, counselling young people effectiveness, routine evaluation

School-based person-centred counselling: an evaluation

Aim/Purpose: This paper presents the key findings from a routine evaluation of a person-centred counselling service in six Scottish secondary schools. The aims of this evaluation were to assess the impact of the counselling service on clients' behavioural and psychological difficulties.

Design/Methodology: The research was carried out over a period of one year, with pre- and post- counselling assessments. Three instruments were used: Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), YP-CORE-18, and YP-CORE-10. 160 pupils attended the counselling service across the six schools. 60% of the pupils who attended two or more sessions (79) completed pairs of one of these three pre- and post-counselling measures.

All research procedures received ethical approval from the University of Strathclyde's University Ethics Committee.

Results/Findings: All three measures showed significant reductions in level of behavioural and psychological difficulties. The mean ‘Total difficulties' score on the SDQ before counselling was 15.4, and after counselling it was reduced to 11.2 (p < 0.001, d = 0.57, N = 64). Moreover, the mean ‘Impact of difficulties' score on the SDQ was reduced from 2.3 to 1.0 following counselling (p < 0.001, d = 0.66, N = 57). Both reductions were reliable and significant. The two YP-CORE measures also showed significant reductions with effect sizes of 1.23 (YP-CORE-18) and 2.93 (YP-CORE-10).

Research Limitations: The absence of a controlled comparative condition limits the internal validity of the findings.

Originality/Value: This research is an important replication of the Glasgow Counselling in Schools Project (Cooper, 2006), with the addition of an outcome measure (SDQ) that presents normative data allowing analysis of reliable change.

Conclusions/Implications: The findings of this evaluation suggest that a person-centred counselling service in schools play a valuable role in reducing the behavioural and psychological difficulties of pupils. This evaluation adds to the body of evidence which strongly supports the rationale for establishing school-based person-centred counselling services.

Cooper, M. (2006). Counselling in schools project phase II: Evaluation report. Glasgow: University of Strathclyde.

back to top

Mike Gallant

Professional Role: Supervisor, Trainer & Counsellor
Institution: University of Bristol (Doctoral Student, Narrative and Life Story)
Contact details: 8a Church Green East, Redditch, B98 8BP

ABSTRACT: Workshop (Fri, 14.15 - 15.15)

Keywords: arts-based research, co-research, moments of meeting, contact boundary, relational depth

Relational depth: a creative exploration of mo(ve)ments beyond the contact boundary

Research topic/focus for workshop: Workshop participants will be invited to become co-researchers by contributing their own perspectives, expressed creatively in response to my own 'elicitation' material: a five minute presentation of my research methodology together with a visual art installation piece.

The workshop is an integral part of the Action- and co-Research with which I am currently engaged. My doctoral research project explores moments in professional relationships where persons experience a sense of contact (and mixture) that goes beyond everyday life experience: ‘palpable' moments, in therapy or narrative research interviews for example, that colleagues refer to in conversation and supervision. Is it beyond these mo(ve)ments (Davies & Gannon, 2006) that 'interviewees' or 'clients' have a new sense of autonomy and connectedness?

My methodology, including the dissemination of the results of this research, is not designed to reinforce dominant western scientific models. It explores the possibility of uncovering knowledge without the constraints and presuppositions of text and language.

Structured activity during workshop: Workshop participants (co-researchers) will spend at least 30 minutes using provided materials and equipment to create an artistic expression of their own experience of ‘moments of meeting'. These creations will be recorded and may then be incorporated into the art installation/ elicitation material for subsequent workshops and presentations expanding this research project through a heuristic cycle.

Key points for discussion:

  • Are these ‘moments of meeting' (Stern, 2004) a recognised phenomenon? Are they already sufficiently described by expressions such as Confluence and Intimacy (Gestalt Psychology), Flow (Csikszentmihaly, 2002), Relational Depth (Mearns & Cooper, 2005) and Maslow's Peak Experience or Petit Mort?
  • Is this type of arts-based co-research methodology self-indulgent or heartful (Ellis, 1999)?
  • Is this Action Research (in the sense that it has a direct influence on participants)?
  • How can this ‘research data' be disseminated? What difference might it make?

References available on request, please email

back to top

Dr Patricia Goodspeed Grant

Other Author: Janelle Atwood

Professional Role: Associate Professor
Institution: The College at Brockport, State University of New York
Contact details: 350 New Campus Drive, Brockport, New York, 14420, USA

ABSTRACT: Paper (Fri, 11.40 - 12.10)

Keywords: grief, loss, mental illness, disability, interventions

Experience of personal losses for individuals diagnosed with mental illness: implications and interventions

Aim/Purpose: Persons who have been living with severe or prolonged mental illness tend to become shuffled in a system where they have little power over their lives. This often represents a shift from a time when they functioned relatively normally, before they became symptomatic. This research identifies and gives voice to those losses.

Design/Methodology: In this empirical phenomenological research study, 13 men and women, aged 23 to 62, with adult onset of mental illness reflected on their experiences of losses. Primary therapists referred to the principal investigator clients from the continuing day treatment program whom they believed fully met criteria for the study. Appropriate ethical approvals were obtained, and clients who volunteered were determined to be mentally competent to understand the consent and to be able to reflect upon their life changes. The study utilized both a written survey and long phenomenological interviews. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using the principles of empirical phenomenology as outlined in Moustakas (1994). Statements were clustered according to meaning, and then reassembled into themes that described the essence of participants' experiences.

Results/Findings: Three themes were identified: losses as background, secondary losses, and losses blamed on personal failure. Discussion will include aspirational and actual loss, and specific categories of loss and their meaning to clients. Some positive experiences as a result of living with a mental illness also emerged.

Research Limitations: This is a small sample that was specifically situated in a continuing day treatment program. Therefore, conclusions apply only to individuals in this setting.

Originality/Value: This paper adds to the literature by elucidating the subjective experiences of loss for those living with severe mental illness.

Conclusions/Implications: There is a tendency for individuals to identify themselves by their diagnoses. Therapists can help clients redefine their personal and social value through group and individual interventions. Areas of focus include helping individuals to mourn and reframing their losses, dealing with stigma, and helping clients reclaim their identity and gain a sense of control over their lives.

Ame Dinos, S., Stevens, S., Serfaty, M., Weich, S., & King, M. (2004). Stigma: The feelings and experiences of 46 people with mental illness. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 184, 176-181.
Harvey, J. H. (2002). Perspectives on Loss and Trauma: Assaults on the Self (1st ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Moustakas, C. (1994). Phenomenological Research Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

back to top

Charlotte Green and Alistair Ross

Professional Role: Nurse Therapist (CG), Senior Lecturer in Counselling (AR)
Institution: Newman University College
Contact details: Newman University College, Genners Lane, Bartley Green, Birmingham, B32 3NT
Email: /

ABSTRACT: Poster (Fri, 10.15 - 10.45)

Keywords: case-study methodology, narrative theme analysis, anorexia nervosa, models of relationship - researcher/researched, researcher/supervisor

Examining the lived experience of anorexia and how research impacts researcher and supervisor

Aim/Purpose: To explore how clients experience anorexia within a structured therapeutic environment, focussing on the therapeutic process. This under-researched area requires more in-depth analysis of client experiences (Colton and Pistang, 2004; Vanderlinden et al., 2007). Further examination explores how this research impacts both researcher and supervisor.

Design/Methodology: Clients in eating disorder inpatient settings were invited to participate in research being undertaken by CG. Two participants were interviewed and the results analysed using a narrative theme analysis (Ross, 2008). The results of the initial interview were shared with the participants before a subsequent interview and final analysis. Ethical approval was gained from academic and NHS committees.

CG and AR engaged in reflexive practice and found parallels between both research and supervisory processes.

Results/Findings: Results indicate that respondents found a language/voice around four central themes: validation of knowledge, feelings, and relationship to therapist and self.

Research Limitations: The small sample size limits generalization however while further research would be valuable, it raises issues of confidentiality in highly specialised services.

Originality/Value: While previous qualitative studies investigate clients views on the recovery process in anorexia (Hsu et al, 1990; Garrettt, 1997; 1998) this research offers contemporary accounts from a relational perspective. This study gives ‘voice' to clients in in-patient settings for anorexia where this is often lost due to the complex dynamics of treatment and care, physical and emotional. Individual narratives offer important feedback to helping organisations/institutions.

Conclusions/Implications: The discovery of a client voice and a research voice has important implications. Initial structural containment needs to evolve into a relational containment until a clear recognition of the person and their voice occurs within their therapeutic narrative. Clients suffering from anorexia need to be validated as individuals rather than an illness/diagnosis both within and outside of the therapeutic space. Training implications include the need to affirm a sufficient knowledge base that contains the therapist (in this case psychodynamic) in order to offer this to clients.

References available on request, please email

back to top

Dr Terry Hanley 1

Professional Role: Lecturer in Counselling
Institution: University of Manchester
Contact details: Educational Support & Inclusion, School of Education, Ellen Wilkinson Building, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL

ABSTRACT: Theoretical and methodological innovation paper (Sat, 12.30 - 13.00)

Keywords: mixed methods, counselling research, research design, triangulation, data interaction

Mixed methods or muddled methods: combining qualitative and quantitative methods in counselling and psychotherapy research

Background and Introduction: The therapeutic research world is often presented as bitterly divided. There are those with a more positivist view of the world who believe in the purity of numbers and those with a more constructivist view who believe in the richness of words. Despite counselling organisations such as the BACP advocating a pluralist stance, this often means that research falls into one camp or the other and does not often manifest in mixed methods research being conducted. Furthermore, the research that does enter into this territory commonly ignores discussion of how the different data strands interact. Such an omission can lead to mis-deduced conclusions which are often due to the inappropriate assumption that data can be viewed as triangulated.

Theoretical/Methodological argument/Perspective: This paper focuses upon the ways in which data can interact in mixed methods research. Three models, which were used in a study exploring the therapeutic alliance in online youth counselling are presented and discussed. These are an ‘explanatory mixed methods design', an ‘embedded experimental design' and a ‘triangulation design'. An introduction to the epistemological basis to such work is provided and the strengths and potential pitfalls for each model are presented. The argument is posed that counselling researchers need to be aware of such issues to create well designed mixed methods research projects.

Conclusion and relevance to counselling and psychotherapy research practice: Mixed Methods research has great potential to meet the needs of counsellors. At its best, it can produce findings that can both be generalised and that are supported by the richness of peoples' narratives. At its worst, it can produce a massive amount of confused data from which inappropriate conclusions are sometimes made. Counselling researchers therefore need to be mindful of the multitude of ways that quantitative and qualitative data strands interact so as to truly make the best use of the data that is collected.

back to top

Dr Terry Hanley 2

Professional Role: Lecturer in Counselling
Institution: University of Manchester
Contact details: Educational Support & Inclusion, School of Education, Ellen Wilkinson Building, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road,
Manchester, M13 9PL

ABSTRACT: Paper (Fri, 14.50 - 15.20)

Keywords: online counselling, therapeutic alliance, user consultation, adolescents, Grounded Theory

Understanding the online therapeutic alliance through the eyes of adolescent service users

Aim/Purpose: The therapeutic alliance has been viewed as a neglected concept within youth counselling. This becomes even more apparent within the steadily increasing practice of online therapy. This paper reports the views of adolescents who have utilised an online counselling service (Kooth) and synthesises them into a theoretical model which may be of practical use to counsellors.

Design/Methodology: This is a naturalistic study in which 15 young users (aged 12-19) took part in online interviews. Interviews lasted between 30 and 90 minutes in length and focused upon the nature of the therapeutic relationships that were engaged in. A Grounded Theory approach has been used to analyse the transcripts from the meetings.

This study works within BACP's ethical framework and is further informed by the same organisation statement upon research ethics. Guidance is also taken from the BPS's guidance upon conducting research online. Ethical approval was granted by the University of Manchester and Kooth's management.

Results/Findings: The core category ‘Client-Service Match' was elicited from the transcripts. This emphasised the need for certain conditions to be in place for a satisfactory alliance to develop. Key facets to this matching process included the initial engagement phase (related to gaining access), the development of rapport with the counsellor (related to the communication skills utilised), and the establishment of control (related to consensus over key issues between the counsellor and client).

Research Limitations: This work reflects the viewpoints of a limited number of young users. It therefore acts as a point of departure for work in this area and acknowledges that further research is needed to explore the practical worth of such a model of the online alliance.

Originality/Value: This study provides a unique insight into the views that young clients hold regarding online counselling. It also reframes traditional conceptualisations of the therapeutic alliance to fit more appropriately with online work with adolescents.

Conclusions/Implications: This work challenges the notion that commonplace theories of the alliance have currency in all settings. This work develops upon these theories to present a model of the alliance which will hopefully have practical use for counsellors working in these environments.

back to top

Belinda Harris

Professional Role: Associate Professor
Institution: The University of Nottingham
Contact details: The School of Education, Jubilee Campus, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, NG8 1BB

ABSTRACT: Paper (Sat, 12.30 - 13.00)

Keywords: phenomenology, school counselling, headteachers, every child matters

What school counsellors and school leaders can learn from one another. The potential of research to enhance communication between stakeholders

Aim/Purpose: This paper examines the findings of two linked studies designed to investigate the impact of The Children Act 2004 on the working lives of a) school counsellors and b) school leaders, in order to highlight the potential role of research to mediate between stakeholders and enhance the quality of provision for vulnerable children and young people.

Design/Methodology: Both research projects were funded by the author's University and therefore subject to ethical scrutiny and approval by the University's Research Ethics Committee. The first qualitative study investigated the working lives of school counsellors within the context of policy reform, particularly Every Child Matters (2003) and The Children Act 2004. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) (Smith & Osbourne, 2003) was used to analyse six participants' accounts. The findings suggested school leaders were pivotal to the quality of school counsellors' working lives, and to their perceived efficacy with vulnerable children. Another funded IPA study investigated school leaders' experiences of implementing recent legislation. Six head teachers of comparable schools (size, social and economic contexts) with a counselling service were interviewed. Analysis of all transcripts followed Smith, Jarman and Osborn's (1999) recommendations. An independent researcher was involved in the analysis. Five superordinate themes pertinent to each group of respondents were identified.

Results/Findings: Despite similar goals for vulnerable children, school counsellors and school leaders' understandings of ‘what works' in helping young people to move towards these goals within the school context are framed and enacted in contradictory and counter-productive ways.

Originality/Value: This research is innovative in raising awareness of different perceptions of the needs of the child within a school setting and challenges assumptions about the roles and responsibilities of key professionals under Every Child Matters. This is pertinent to the provision of effective ‘integrated services' for children and young people.

Conclusions/Implications: The paper highlights the potential role for research in helping counsellors and leaders move towards a more nuanced discourse of mutual support and understanding of their differential roles and responsibilities. This will involve some renegotiation of professional ‘ways of being' by both parties.

References available on request, please email

back to top

Anthony Hickey

Professional Role: PhD student
Institution: University of Salford
Contact details: School of Community Health Science and Social Care, University of Salford, Frederick Road, Salford, M6 6PU

ABSTRACT: Paper (Fri, 16.20 - 16.50)

Keywords: relationship, dissociation, integration, trauma, grounded theory

Therapist responses to dissociation in the therapeutic relationship

Aim/Purpose: Highlight current points of consensus and controversy regarding conceptualisation of dissociation/integration and links with traumatic experience. Propose recommendations regarding theoretical re-framing, effective trauma/dissociation therapy, healthcare professional wellbeing, and further research.

Design/Methodology: This is a mixed method, multidisciplinary study subject to ethical approval from the University of Salford. The qualitative part consists of semi-structured interviews with therapists from a variety of theoretical orientations and disciplines regarding their experiences of working with clients who they identify as having dissociative experiences. Reflective logs, and a small amount of quantitative data are also included in the analysis. The project comprises pilot and main study.

Results/Findings: This study is in progress and preliminary, ‘in-study' findings regarding the research relationship will be ready for presentation and discussion at the conference.

Research Limitations: This is a small-scale, preliminary study and at this stage is therefore limited in a number of ways as the research model is being developed. The sample size will affect validity and reliability, as will the choice of purposive sampling for this initial study. This has a bearing, for example, on disciplines and orientations selected. However, the sensitivity of the topic and potential sensitivities of participants to this form of exploration were accounted for in setting a sample size that would encourage rather than discourage practitioners from participating in future projects developed as a result of the study's findings.

Originality/Value: No study similar to this is known to have been conducted. The study is intended to take a new approach to understanding the concept of dissociation, and to enable consideration of current theoretical and therapeutic models with the potential for re-development.

Conclusions/Implications: Whilst extremely tentative because of its scale, this study, together with its methodology and methods, are designed to challenge current assumptions and thinking about dissociation, as well as affecting healthcare policy and strategy, commissioning, service delivery, multi-disciplinary working and research.

back to top

Andy Hill and Mick Cooper

Professional Role: Senior Lecturer in Counselling (AH)
Institution: University of Salford (AH)
Contact details: School of Community Health Sciences and Social Care, University of Salford, Frederick Road, Salford, M6 6PU

ABSTRACT: Workshop (Fri, 15.45 - 16.45)

Keywords: competences, evidence-based, experiential, humanistic, person-centred, research, training

The development of humanistic, person-centred and experiential competences: an evidence based framework for practice, training and research

Research topic/focus for workshop: Following the publication of a competence frame work for CBT (Roth and Pilling, 2007) and the development of similar for Psychodynamic Psychotherapy and Supervision (, this workshop reports on the development of a competence framework for Humanistic, Person-centred and Experiential Therapy (HPCE). The project was led by Tony Roth and Stephen Pilling at University College London and was funded by Skills for Health. Development work was guided by an expert reference group (ERG) comprising representatives of UKCP, BACP, user groups and experts in the field. The process of development involved identification of the evidence base underpinning HPCE. Well-conducted randomised controlled trials of HPCE which had found positive effects were identified and located. Exemplar texts and manuals which described the therapeutic approach used in these trials were then located and competences extracted. The structure and detailed wording of the framework was overseen by the ERG. This method of competence development differs significantly from more observational approaches where therapists' routine practice is analysed and used to frame therapeutic competences. The framework can be described as "evidence based" as it is derived from interventions whose efficacy has been established in clinical trials. Such an approach avoids the danger of privileging the idiosyncratic and untested therapeutic activities inherent in routine practice.

Structured activity during workshop: Presenters will describe the process of development and the structure of the framework. All participants will be given a copy of the framework. The workshop will then divide into three groups, each facilitated by a presenter, to discuss the key points below. Each group will feedback in a plenary session.

Key points for discussion:

  • The relationship between the framework and current HPCE practice
  • Issues relating to the implementation of the framework: how the framework might be used in training, research and practice

References available on request, please email

back to top

Dipl.-Päd. Dagmar Hölldampf

Other Authors: Theresa Jakob and Prof. Dr. Michael Behr

Professional Role: Research Assistant
Institution: University of Education Schwaebisch Gmuend, Germany
Contact details: Hoelldampf, University of Education Schwaebisch Gmuend, Department of Psychology, Oberbettringer Strasse 200, 73525 Schwaebisch Gmuend, Germany

ABSTRACT: Brief communication session (Fri, 16.15 - 16.30)

Keywords: meta analysis, person-centered, child and adolescent counselling, effectiveness, person-centered therapy

The effectiveness of person-centered child and adolescent psychotherapy - a metaanalytic review

Aim/Purpose: Therapists and Counsellors are ethically-bound and in authority to their clients. Person-centered treatment for children and adolescents is a developmentally responsive modality, based on unconditional positive regard, empathy and authenticity, suited for the specific client to help, prevent or resolve psychosocial difficulties and achieve optimal growth and development. The efficacy of person-centered interventions for children has been a basis for controversy and debate among mental health professionals. In Germany this issue has received legal attention, when person-centered therapy was regarded only as effective for adults by a legal scientific committee. The German "Association for Person-centered Therapy and Counselling" has instituted legal proceedings. This study will gather research results which prove the effectiveness of person-centered treatment and thus provide arguments for the acceptance of the approach as a viable intervention for children and adolescents.

Design/Methodology: A Meta-analytic methodology is used to analyse the effects of person-centered treatment by combining the results of individual studies. The authors conduct a systematic review and identified more than 200 relevant studies by multimodal search. At the moment a meta-analysis is conducted with outcome studies published from 1953 to 2008 to assess the overall effectiveness of person-centered therapy for young people.

Results/Findings: An overall mean treatment effect around 0.80 standard deviations is expected. Detailed descriptive data about the database and results will be given at the conference. The data-analysis is still in progress.

Research Limitations: "Meta analysis is in the prison of the data" we can only refer the overall effectiveness through existing studies.

Originality/Value: Existing meta-analysis on child-and adolescent psychotherapy and counselling have much smaller databases in regard to person-centered outcome studies.

Conclusions/Implications: Person-centered interventions will be shown as an effective treatment for a broad range of young people's problems. However, better designed studies are needed that examine the effectiveness of person-centered therapy broken down to gender, age and presenting issue.

References available on request, please email

back to top

Dr Manda Holmshaw

Other Authors: Dr Kathryn Hodder, Dr Ad De Jongh and Dr Wilson Carswell

Professional Role: Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Director
Institution: Moving Minds Psychological Management & Rehabilitation
Contact details: Alperton House, Bridgewater Road, Wembley, Middlesex, HA0 1EH

ABSTRACT: Paper (Sat, 14.15 - 14.45)

Keywords: travel phobia, travel anxiety, EMDR, CBT, trauma-focused

Treatment of travel phobia resulting from road traffic accidents: efficacy of trauma-focused psychological therapy

Aims/Purpose: Travel phobia and milder travel-related anxiety are prevalent, persistent and often disabling reactions to road traffic accidents (RTAs), commonly involving fear and avoidance of accident-related situations or objects. However, there is surprisingly little evidence regarding treatment of such disorders. The current research aimed to explore the efficacy of trauma-focused treatment, namely CBT and EMDR for travel phobia and anxiety in a large sample.

Design/Methodology: The sample was 184 patients with travel anxiety resulting from an RTA, of which 57% were diagnosed with specific travel phobia and the remaining patients experienced milder non-phobic anxiety. All patients were treated by accredited specialists nationwide using either CBT or EMDR. The effectiveness of these treatments was assessed using three psychometric scales administered pre- and post-treatment, and an outcome rating from the treating therapist. The number of sessions required by patients until discharge was also measured.

Results/Findings: Both treatments produced substantial decreases in symptoms as measured by the psychometric scales, and in 89% of cases treatment was rated by the treating therapist as successful or patients were much improved by the end of treatment. Both treatments took an average of approximately eight sessions for both those with clinical phobia and those with milder anxiety. Very few differences between the treatments emerged. Passengers reported higher levels of trauma symptoms than drivers, but treatment efficacy did not differ for these groups.

Research Limitations: Patients were not randomly allocated to treatment conditions due to the community treatment setting, there was no control group and measures of treatment fidelity were not taken.

Originality/Value: Previous research on treatment of travel anxiety has been limited to a small number of single-case studies and case series, and only one single-case study used EMDR. This study is the first to compare trauma-focused treatments in a large sample of people experiencing both specific phobia and milder anxiety.

Conclusions/Implications: Trauma-focused psychological therapy was highly efficacious for specific travel phobia and milder anxiety. This research should directly inform clinical practice by raising the profile of travel anxiety following RTAs, and by indicating effective treatments which can be directly implemented by clinicians.

back to top

Werner Kierski

Professional Role: Lecturer and psychotherapist
Institution: Middlesex University/Metanoia Institute
Contact details: 52 Purley Avenue, London, NW2 1SB

ABSTRACT: Poster (Sat, 10.10 - 10.55)

Keywords: men, anxiety, masculinity, male-therapists, gender-role

Anxiety experiences of male counsellors and psychotherapists

Contradictory information about anxiety amongst men exists, which fails to explain how men actually experience anxiety. Moreover, it is unknown how anxiety affects various male identity types. As a result diagnosis of male anxiety may be difficult.

Aim/Purpose: Figures by MIND show that generalised anxiety amongst women fell from 5.3% to 4.8% between 1997-2000, whilst that of men increased by 15% from 4.0% to 4.6%.

Over the same period the rate of diagnosed mixed anxiety and depression amongst women increased from 10.1% to 11.2% whilst that of men increased from 5.5% to 7.2%, reflecting a 30% increase for men.

Graske (2003) states that the anxiety diagnosis rate for women is normally two times higher than for men and this ratio is remaining un-changed. Graske proposes that the reason for the lower male rate is because different gender-role norms shape the way in which men relate to symptoms. Yet, according to Haywood and Mac an Ghaill (2003) male gender-role identity is not a uniform experience but exhibits different masculinities in different socio-cultural contexts. When looked at from a socio-cultural perspective taking into account different masculinities then a lack of understanding of how anxiety plays out becomes apparent. This research seeks to address the issue by focusing on the phenomenology of anxiety of one group of men; male psychotherapists.

Design/Methodology: A qualitative design was employed to explore anxiety amongst male-therapists. 10 therapists were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire. Hermeneutical phenomenology was applied for interview analysis. Recruitment was carried out through therapy organisations, including Capio-Hospital, Re-Vision, LACAP NSPC, CPPD and Karuna-Institute.

Results/Findings: Findings show that anxiety relates to failure, threat, loss of control in the therapeutic setting and reflects lifelong patterns. Anxiety also functions as an impetus for successful therapeutic practise and can facilitate self-actualisation.

Research Limitations: Anxiety experienced by male-therapists may be different to anxiety amongst non-therapists; results may thus be used merely as a pointer.

Originality/Value: This is the first phenomenological research into anxiety amongst male therapists.

Conclusions/Implications: A better understanding of how male therapists experience anxiety can help clarify how anxiety in men may manifest generally, thus making diagnosis more accurate.

References available on request, please email

back to top

Sheila King

Professional Role: Lecturer in Counselling/ NHS Counsellor
Institution: University of Salford/ Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust (MMHSCT)
Contact details: School of Community Health Science and Social Care, University of Salford, Frederick Rd., Salford, M6 6PU

ABSTRACT: Poster (Sat, 10.10 - 10.55)

Keywords: groupwork, counsellors, Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies, training

Extending our repertoire? Counsellors and groupwork

Aim/Purpose: Current developments in the delivery of psychological therapies, e.g. the Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies programme and expectations of evidence-based practice within the NHS, present challenges to counsellors. In future we may be expected to offer a more diverse range of therapeutic interventions, which may include psycho-educational groups or group therapy.

Research suggests group therapy can be as effective as individual therapy, including for depression. It can be used by therapists of different theoretical orientations and professional backgrounds.

The purpose of the study was to investigate counsellors' experience of using groupwork and to identify what, if any, training they have in this area.

Design/Methodology: Questionnaires were distributed to counsellors working in a wide range of work settings. The sixty six responses were analysed using SPSS and Content Analysis.The research had ethical approval from Manchester University and MMHSCT.

Results/Findings: 53% of respondents have experience of providing groupwork and have facilitated a range of different types of group; 62% said they are interested in offering group therapy as part of their therapeutic repertoire; 45% had some groupwork training, although much was of fairly limited duration. Almost three quarters of respondents said they were interested in further training in groupwork.

Research Limitations: As this is a small scale research project, it is not possible to assess how far the results can be generalised to counsellors as a whole.

Originality/Value: The research may be of value to therapists and service providers in broadening choice of therapy in a clinical context, service delivery design and also in considering training/supervision needs. It may be useful to training providers in future curriculum development. Little information is currently available in the literature on counsellors' experience/ training in this area.

Conclusions/Implications: Many of the counsellors surveyed have experience in running groups, have an interest in offering groupwork and have some training in groupwork. The findings suggest that counsellors may be in a favourable position to exploit the potential of groupwork as an additional contribution to providing effective, evidence-based approaches within new developments in service delivery in the psychological therapies.

References available on request, please email

back to top

Dr Kathryn Kinmond and Dr Lisa Oakley

Professional Role: Counsellor, Senior Lecturer in Psychology (KK), Senior Lecturer in Psychology (LO)
Institution: Manchester Metropolitan University
Contact details: Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, Manchester Metropolitan University, Crewe Green Crewe, Crewe, Cheshire, CW1 5DU

ABSTRACT: Paper (Sat, 11.20 - 11.50)

Keywords: narrative, personal impact, retelling, participation

"I found myself back in that place..." The impact of narrative research

Aim/Purpose: Narrative is becoming an increasingly popular research method within counselling and psychotherapy. However, the impact of ‘telling your story' has been little investigated. This paper explores the experience of participating in narrative research for the participant, together with the implications for the researcher of witnessing pain for which they have been partly responsible.

Design/Methodology: Five qualitative interviews were conducted with participants who had previously given their narratives for a doctoral research project on Spiritual Abuse undertaken by one of the authors These interviews, about the experience of giving the narratives, were analysed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis.

The study adhered to the BACP and BPS ethical frameworks. Ethical approval was granted by the Ethics committee of the department of Interdisciplinary studies, Manchester Metropolitan University.

Results/Findings: Participants discussed feelings of empowerment arising out of participation in the research, through issues such as personal acceptance and recognition of their personal progression through trauma. Conversely, participants also discussed the pain encountered when revisiting their experiences of abuse through giving their narratives for the original research. Similarly, issues raised for the researchers included guilt and immense responsibility. Conversely, the researchers felt satisfaction and vicarious empowerment at facilitating these stories to be voiced.

Research Limitations: This study is based on a specific form of abuse- further research is required in order to assess the extent to which these findings can be generalised to research with survivors of other forms of abuse. Additional research might also explore further, the impact of using narrative - which requires participants to re-tell their story - in research; both for Participant and researcher.

Originality/Value: To date the only qualitative research on Spiritual Abuse in the UK has been conducted and published by the authors. This is the first research that has examined the effect of participating in - and conducting - narrative research into Spiritual Abuse.

Conclusions/Implications: As narrative is being used increasingly in counselling research, there are many implications researchers need to consider for participants and themselves. Research and counselling are quintessentially different vehicles. Though the use of narrative is common to both, researchers need to consider the differences. The lived reality of retelling a painful story might be significantly different from the anticipated experience.

back to top

Dr Clare Lennie and Dr William West

Professional Role: Lecturer in Education psychology and Counselling
Institution: School of Education, University of Manchester
Contact details: ESI School of Education, University of Manchester, M13 9PL

ABSTRACT: Workshop (Sat, 14.15 - 15.15)

Keywords: researcher, counselling skills, ethics, intent, empathy

The pitfalls and strengths of the counsellor as researcher

Research topic/focus for workshop: This workshop aims to encourage counsellors to engage in research activities by drawing on their everyday counselling skills and identifying links that can be made with research. In this way, we hope to bridge the divide between research and practice whilst exploring the tensions and dilemmas around any possible transferability of roles, bearing in mind the BACP (2004) Ethical Guidelines for researching counselling and psychotherapy.

There is a developing need for counsellors to engage with research on a professional level in terms of developing its evidence base, but also on an individual level with regard to professional development and accreditation. Despite this, many counsellors remain wary of research, tending not to read or engage in activities associated with it and possibly holding outdated ideas about what ‘research' means (McLeod, 2003). However, many of the skills used by counsellors are essential for research and well honed in the counselling practitioner; for example their use of establishing a trusting relationship with a client is of great value to a qualitative researcher (Lennie & West, 2009). There are, however, inevitably some drawbacks in an unthought out use of counselling skills within research (Hart & Crawford-Wright, 1999). For example the counsellors' ability to use advanced empathy, so that the clients becomes aware of important issues that they were not conscious of, could be used unethically within a research relationship (West, 2002).

This workshop draws on our experience of both teaching research awareness to counsellors in training and teaching research skills to Masters and doctoral students in counselling and education.

Structured activity during workshop: Identifying, in small groups, the use of key counselling skills in research and exploring possible problems in the use of these skills.

Key points for discussion:

  • Differences between research and counselling
  • Intent of researcher
  • Responsibilities of the researcher
  • Danger signs
  • Ethical issues

By the end of the session we hope participants will feel more confident and equipped to engage with research, whilst at the same time being clear about the differences between counselling and research and how these differences might be handled.

References available on request, please email

back to top

Dr Chris Mace

Professional Role: Consultant Psychotherapist
Institution: St Michael's Hospital, Warwick
Contact details: St Michael's Road, Warwick, CV34 5QW

ABSTRACT: Invited speaker (Fri, 12.35 - 13.05)

Mind and body in therapeutic relationships: evidence, fashion and research

Psychotherapists and counsellors depend on evidence in every aspect of their work. This is not always the kind of evidence that is currently favoured by ‘evidence-based practice'. This gap can be seen as a failing in the current relationship between research and clinical practice. It is reflected in a polarisation between perceptions of research as something that will limit and restrict practice from without, versus research as systematic enquiry that helps therapists to be more skilful in their work. The gap reflects several peculiar features of psychotherapy research, including its relative theoretical poverty. Some fashionable assumptions about the way psychotherapy research should be conducted are likely to reinforce this gap rather than to reduce it. Signs of change are also evident. In illustrating how research, including RCTs and quantitative research, can validate and extend the first hand evidence on which clinicians ordinarily rely, I shall focus on recent studies of attention and physiological changes in the course of therapeutic relationships.

Chris Mace is Consultant Psychotherapist to Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust and honorary Associate Professor in Psychotherapy at the University of Warwick. He currently chairs the psychotherapy faculty of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. An active psychotherapy researcher, he is practice editor of the European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling and author of Mindfulness and Mental Health (Routledge, 2008).

back to top

Rachel MacLeod

Professional Role: Trainee Counselling Psychologist (Student)
Institution: University of Strathclyde
Contact details: University of Strathclyde Counselling Unit, Jordanhill campus, 76 Southbrae Drive, Glasgow, G13 1PP

ABSTRACT: Paper (Fri, 14.15 - 14.45)

Keywords: social anxiety, hermeneutic single case efficacy design, emotion-focused therapy

Person-centred therapy for social anxiety: a single-case efficacy design

Aim/Purpose: Social Anxiety (SA) is a debilitating problem, affecting up to 10% of the population during their lifetime (Keller, 2003). Emotion-focused therapy (EFT) has been shown to be effective for promoting client change in depression (Elliott, Greenberg & Lietaer, 2004), a problem that is often co-morbid with Social Anxiety. This study attempted to determine if client pre-post changes were causally linked to EFT, rather than to non therapy factors.

Design/Methodology: The Hermeneutic Single Case Efficacy Design (HSCED) (Elliott, 2002) method evaluates the efficacy of therapy in single cases. Elliott, Partyka, Wagner, Alperin & Dobrenski (2003) propose a Legal Model for data analysis in HSCED investigations. Affirmative and Sceptic cases are collected, and presented to a panel of judges, who consider the data in terms of the central research questions. The HSCED method and Legal Model were applied to a client with SA, initially seen for 16 sessions of EFT. Data obtained from a further three sessions are considered in addition to the data obtained during the main phase of therapy. This investigation was approved by the University of Strathclyde ethics committee.

Results/Findings: The client was found to have changed substantially over therapy, and EFT was found to have contributed substantially to this change. Further, a broader knowledge of helpful aspects of therapy and the therapeutic processes that benefit clients suffering from SA was gained, helping to establish the helpfulness of EFT in the field.

Research Limitations: Generalisability of findings may be limited due to the range of individual differences that exist within the SA population.

Originality/Value: The study employs two relatively new research models, and therefore serves as an experimentation of how these methods work in therapy research.

Conclusions/Implications: The client changed substantially over therapy, and that EFT contributed substantially to that change. The strength of the relationship between the therapist and the client, and the effective application of key EFT tasks were found to be the key causes of therapeutic change. It is concluded that EFT is a potentially effective treatment for socially isolated clients suffering from SA.

References available on request, please email

back to top

Lorna Marchant

Professional Role: Senior Lecturer in Counselling
Institution: University of Brighton
Contact details: 380 Goldington Road, Bedford, MK41 9NT

ABSTRACT: Brief communication session (Fri, 16.00 - 16.15)

Keywords: children, childhood, trauma, bereavement, death

The impact on adult life of a sudden bereavement experienced during childhood. Towards a new perspective on traumatic bereavement

Aim/Purpose: This study explores how the experience of childhood traumatic bereavement resonates throughout life and intends to address the existing gap in the literature around professional counselling practice as there is sparse evidence in this literature examining sudden death. Neither as it impacts the child's life at the time of the death nor the impact such an experience has on the young person as he/she grows into adulthood.

This study has grown out of my professional practice and personal experience. As a therapeutic counsellor I have worked with a number of clients whose experience of sudden traumatic death in childhood impacted not only upon their lives as children, but continued to resonate throughout their lives into adulthood. This coupled with the awareness of my own children's experience of traumatic bereavement has led to the development of this research proposal.

The aims of this study are:

  • To investigate with those who have experienced a sudden bereavement in childhood and to talk about the possible effects of this over time.
  • To explore the relevance of age-related developmental issues on the impact of a traumatic bereavement.
  • To inform counselling, health, education, and social work practice about the experience of a sudden death in childhood and the effects of this over time.

Design/Methodology: Participants take part in two interviews, approximately two months apart, thus allowing space and time for reflection on their experience. Heuristic research (Moustakas,1990), a method located within phenomenology, offers a way of exploring the lived experience of childhood traumatic bereavement. In the case of this study the personal experience of the primary researcher will be reflected upon and included, in written form.

Results/Findings: Early themes suggest this experience resonates on a psychophysical level.

‘This pivotal moment has defined my life'

‘I have had panic attacks since the death' (40 more years ago)

‘It's no coincidence that I haven't got children'

Originality/Value: As a qualitative study it asks co-researchers to reflect on how this event has resonated through their life. Alongside this will be the self-reflexive account of the researcher's personal experience.

Conclusions/Implications: Conclusions cannot be drawn at this stage as it is relatively early although themes are being identified.

References available on request, please email

back to top

John McLeod and Julia McLeod

Professional Role: Professor of Counselling (John M)
Institution: University of Abertay Dundee (John M)
Contact details: Tayside Institute for Health Studies, University of Abertay Dundee, Dundee, DD1 1HG

ABSTRACT: Theoretical and methodological innovation paper (Sat, 11.20 - 11.50)

Keywords: case study, CORE, methodology, outcome, pluralistic

Systematic case study research in counselling and psychotherapy: using a team-based approach

Aim/Purpose: Case studies have the potential to make a significant contribution to the evidence base for counselling and psychotherapy, and to play an important role in the development of theory and practice. In recent years, a range of different approaches to systematic case study research have been developed. However, many practitioners who have access to valuable case material, are unsure of how their data can be analysed and presented for publication. This paper will review contrasting approaches to single case research, and describe how they can be combined in the context of team-based practitioner-generated inquiry. Findings will be presented from the analysis of the case of a client who received brief pluralistically-oriented counselling for psychosomatic difficulties.

Design/Methodology: The client completed the CORE outcome measure and a goals scale at each session, along with process measures. Some sessions were recorded and transcribed. A follow-up interview was conducted. This data set was analysed by an inquiry team, using a structured method of case analysis directed at addressing issues relating to outcome and process. Ethical approval was obtained from the local NHS Research Ethics Committee and University Research Ethics Committee to conduct this study, and the client engaged in an informed consent process at the beginning and end of her therapy.

Results/Findings: Results of the case analysis are briefly presented, in terms of the outcome of the counselling and the therapeutic processes that contributed to these effects. The experience of members of the inquiry team is described. The implications of this study, for practitioners seeking to engage in systematic case study inquiry, are discussed.

Research Limitations: The key weakness of this study is that a limited range of data were collected from the client.

Originality/Value: The study provides an example of a practitioner-friendly approach to case study research, and places this approach in the context of wider debates around case study methodology.

Conclusions/Implications: The conclusion of this study are that practitioner-based systematic case study research is both feasible and satisfying; there is substantial potential for practitioners to make a substantial contribution to the research literature, in the form of case studies.

back to top

Denise Meyer

Professional Role: University Counsellor
Institution: University of Portsmouth
Contact details: Counselling Service, Department for Curriculum and Quality Enhancement, University of Portsmouth, Nuffield Centre, St Michael's Road, Portsmouth, PO1 2ED

ABSTRACT: Paper (Sat, 14.15 - 14.45)

Keywords: discourse analysis, social constructionism, depression, self-help, website

Shaping empowering depression discourses: social constructionist research in action

Aim/Purpose: The Students Against Depression website project undertook social constructionist action research to develop online self-help resources for students affected by depression (Meyer, 2007). This paper focuses in more detail on the social constructionist aim of the project - to offer a multi-layered (‘thick') account of depression, positioning site users with empowering perspectives and strategies. The range of depression discourses used in the student narratives central to the project are identified, and the paper analyses how these discourses are shaped by the project itself and how they contribute to and interact with their presentation context.

Design/Methodology: The paper is based on discourse analysis of semi-structured interview transcripts [n=13] focusing on students' experiences of depression. The analysis is refined via reflexive consideration of how these discourses are shaped within the context of their production - a research project focusing on strategies for overcoming depression - and of how they in turn interact with the deliberate discursive strategy employed in the website conception.

Ethical approval for the research was granted by a programme approval board of the DPsych in Professional Studies offered by the Metanoia Institute and Middlesex University.

Results/Findings: The students use a wide variety of discourses to account for their depression, probably reflecting the range of discourses found in the wider culture. The framing of their participation in the project - as ‘consultants' offering expertise overcoming depression - is found to exert a controlling rationale which allows these often-conflicting discourses to be brought together and presented within a unified discursive framework offering an empowering and optimistic account of depression.

Research Limitations: While the analysis may offer a snapshot of some of the depression discourses employed in the wider culture, the explicit influence of the research frame on the discourses employed means that it cannot provide a naturalistic view of the way people generally talk about depression.

Originality/Value: The research offers a perspective on practical applications of social constructionist theory with relevance for therapeutic conversations.

Conclusions/Implications: The research demonstrates how paying attention to the way conversations about depression are set up can allow empowering and constructive narratives to emerge.

References available on request, please email

back to top

Dr Greg Nolan

Professional Role: Teaching Fellow in Counselling
Institution: University of Leeds
Contact details: School of Healthcare, Baines Wing, Leeds, LS2 9JT

ABSTRACT: Poster (Sat, 10.10 - 10.55)

Keywords: intersubjectivity, Meaning-Moment, researcher-practitioner, risk, supervision, transformation

Researching supervision: seeing the wood and the trees as researcher-practitioner

Aim/Purpose: There is little empirical research on counselling and psychotherapy supervision in the UK and nothing on supervisors' or supervisees' experiences when working with clinical material seen as challenging, or transcending, sense making within practitioner's theoretical constructs. Researcher-practitioner relationships provide data on examples of phenomena in practice experiences, and indicators of supervisor ‘presence' (both present and absent) in the support of clinical practice.

Design/Methodology: Heuristic phenomenological procedures were applied within an ‘interpretive bricolage' (Kincheloe & McLaren, 2005; McLeod & Balamoutsou, 2001) utilising an adaptation of Rennie's (2006) ‘grounded theory variant' to conversational unstructured 1:1 interviews with eight supervisors, each in independent practice. This study adheres to both the BACP's ethical framework and its organisation statement on research ethics.

Results/Findings: Findings arose from the two strands of research data that emerged: ‘Responses relating directly to the research question' and ‘Researcher / participant processes'. Recalled clinical case material generated countertransference and parallel processes within the interviews; perceptions engaged at depth challenging ethical management of complex dynamics. Relational intersubjectivity enabled insights into supervisory processes, significant within key moments of insight, some perceived as transformational by the participant and/or researcher. These instances, Meaning-Moments, are diagrammatically elaborated using a schematic ‘tool' developed to help locate and disentangle embodied ‘echoes' populating the mirrored frames of therapy, supervision and the research alliance.

Research Limitations: Participant supervisors (who were self-selecting) were all female (n8) with practice described as Integrative (n6) or Humanistic (n2), restricting generalisability.

Originality/Value: This research offers additional data on counselling supervision practice in the UK and discussion on three distinct paradigms of mind and consciousness, providing alternative perspectives on meaning. The Meaning-Moment schematic that arose from the data analysis may be used as both a research ‘tool' and a clarifying aid when seeking insight within therapeutic and supervisory working alliances.

Conclusions/Implications: Analysis and discussion on what supervisors ‘do' that works indicates a necessity for a plurality of theoretical awareness and openness towards alternative paradigmatic thinking. Sufficient researcher reflexivity with past and present personal process can help tease apart intersubjective complexity within the research alliance and potentially uncover a source of rich and important data.

References available on request, please email

back to top

Dr Valerie Owen-Pugh

Professional Role: Lecturer in Counselling and Psychotherapy
Institution: Institute of Lifelong Learning, University of Leicester
Contact details: LILL, University of Leicester, 128 Regent Rd, Leicester, LE1 7PA

ABSTRACT: Paper (Sat, 12.30 - 13.00)

Keywords: cognitive behavioural therapy, counsellor training, professional identity, identity conflict, continuing professional development

Closing with the enemy? The dilemmas of identity faced by qualified counsellors training in cognitive-behavioural therapy

Aim/Purpose: Learners are motivated to construct ‘identities of mastery' (Lave & Wenger, 1991). This theoretical perspective seems to resonate closely with counsellor training, where students leaving initial training courses are likely to identify themselves, not merely as ‘counsellors', but as ‘psychodynamic', ‘person-centred', ‘experiential', etc. Such early specialisation benefits the counselling profession, but can create difficulties for students pursuing continuing professional development. In particular, students' encounters with unfamiliar bodies of theory and practice may cause them both to question, and defend, their prior professional loyalties. These issues are explored through a qualitative study of the experiences of trained psychodynamic counsellors studying an introductory module in cognitive behaviour therapy.

Design/Methodology: The University of Leicester granted ethical approval for the research. Thematic analyses were carried out on 12 students' learning journals. Face-to-face interviews were subsequently carried out with students to explore issues raised by the journals.

Results/Findings: Data analysis revealed five overarching forms of subjective conflict experienced by participants, interpretable as a series of existential questions: ‘Should I be studying this course?', ‘Whose agenda am I working to?', ‘How do I unlearn to re-learn?', ‘What professional values should I subscribe to?' and ‘How do I resolve my predicament?'. Although participants found their learning beneficial, many reported ambivalence over participating in the module. At times their pre-existing loyalties to psychodynamic therapy seemed to locate them in opposition to their tutors and create barriers to development.

Research Limitations: Participants were drawn from a single training course, and were studying a controversial counselling modality. Consequently, though compatible with the findings of other researchers (Wills, 2007), the generalisability of the findings must be questioned. As with any research incorporating thematic analysis, the study's findings must be understood to reflect the phenomenological world of the researcher as well as the researched.

Originality/Value: The study applies contemporary theory in fields of education, sociology and social psychology to the case of counsellor training.

Conclusions/Implications: Qualified counsellors engaged in continuing professional development can find themselves faced with dilemmas of identity that must be resolved before they can engage fully with the learning on offer. Tutors must find ways of enabling such students to make connections between their past and future professional identities.

References available on request, please email

back to top

Sara Perren

Other Authors: Mary Godfrey and Nancy Rowland

Professional Role: Counsellor
Institution: Previously Gillygate Surgery Research Practice now The Tuke Centre for Counselling and Psychotherapy, York
Contact details: 82 Huntington Road, York, YO31 8RN

ABSTRACT: Paper (Fri, 15.45 - 16.15)

Keywords: counselling, impact, long-term, change, process

The client's understanding of change processes in counselling. A qualitative study exploring users' views of the process by which change is brought about through counselling and maintained in the longer term

Aim/Purpose: To investigate whether there is lasting impact meaningful to service-users one to three years after counselling. To explore users' understanding of the processes by which counselling achieves lasting change.

Design/Methodology: Qualitative study: in-depth interviews. 16 NHS Primary Care counselling services in Yorkshire invited participation from people who attended counselling one to three years ago. 234 invitations sent. 39 people offered interviews, 56 completed questionnaires. 15 people interviewed. Interviews recorded and data transcribed and analysed. Using Grounded theory, data analysis involved the reading of transcripts by the research team to identify patterns and themes through open coding and focused line by line coding using Nvivo software package, further refined through discussion using constant comparative analysis. The project was approved by South Humber NHS ethics committee.

Results/Findings: Counselling enabled ongoing, dynamic change in the way people were conducting their lives. Several factors contributed to initial impact being established as long term change. They are achieved through the change process of counselling. These factors included: enabling to come to their own solutions; being active between sessions; acquiring a tool box of skills. The change process ensures that these skills are acquired in such a way that they are built upon and added to beyond the counselling.

Research Limitations: Small scale pilot study. Limited resources dictated number of interviews undertaken. Only three interviewees identified no lasting impact. A greater proportion of users who offered interviews had benefited from the service. A larger study would be able to mitigate this possible selection effect.

Originality/Value: This study seeks users' views and understanding about how change takes place and is maintained through counselling. It seeks to understand more about that elusive problem of what the process is by which such changes come about and are taken responsibility for by the client. It examines users' accounts of how those changes affect the development of people's lives and relationships beyond counselling. Little is known about the long-term impact of either counselling or other evidence based interventions used in Primary Care. This study makes a contribution to that debate.

Conclusions/Implications: Our study confirmed previous research findings about the factors which contribute to successful short term outcome; our in depth analysis enabled us to identify other factors and examine the ways in which they interact to contribute to the achievement of ongoing dynamic change.

References available on request, please email

back to top

Dr Andrew Reeves

Professional Role: BACP Senior Accredited Counsellor / Editor, Counselling and Psychotherapy Research journal
Institution: The University of Liverpool
Contact details: 14 Oxford Street, Liverpool, L69 7WX

ABSTRACT: Invited speaker (Fri, 12.35 - 13.05)

The relationship between research and writing for publication

It could be argued that while research is a valuable activity in its own right, it is insufficient in of itself without mechanisms for dissemination: like breathing in without breathing out. Research outcomes can shape future practice by providing rationales for interventions, and demonstrating efficacy for types of therapy, for example. Research informs what will be commissioned, and how that will be delivered. Research can ultimately shape what therapies clients can access, and what will be made available to them. Research that is not disseminated and communicated to others has little chance of achieving any of these things. This talk will explore, through the use of small group discussion and case examples, the importance of seeing publication as an integral part of the research process. Additionally, we will consider how to prepare your research for journal submission, and how to ensure that your writing maximises its potential to communicate.

back to top

Annie Robinson

Professional Role: Counsellor and part-time lecturer
Institution: Centre for Personal and Professional Development, School of Community and Applied Health, University of Bristol
Contact details: School House, Barrow Gurney, Bristol, BS48 3RY

ABSTRACT: Paper (Fri, 16.20 - 16.50)

Keywords: autoethnography, therapeutic relationship, research relationships, research dilemmas, narrative

"Inside Out" Researching therapeutic process through an investigation of self as client

Focus of paper: This paper focuses on the benefits and hazards of the use of self for therapy research, as a contribution to an understanding of therapeutic processes, in an environment that increasingly calls for evidence based research.

Aim/Purpose: It aims to show how my local, personal narrative, which crosses arts based and social science genres (Speedy, 2008), creates knowledge about a lived experience of therapy, and explores how that may resonate with the stories of other clients (Sands, 2000; Martin, 2008), and in the current context of Improving Access for Psychological Therapies (IAPT).

Design/Methodology: This paper is based on research undertaken as part of an MSc dissertation (University of Bristol). Ethical approval was granted through systems in place with the Graduate School of Education. Using an auto-ethnography methodology - a research process and a textual product (Reed-Danahay,1997) - and data gathered through an ‘outsider witness' process (White, 2005), I will show how my research created some dilemmas for my therapy and my relationship with my therapist, while the whole experience heightened my personal understanding of therapy and the struggles of being a client. As therapist clients, we are uniquely positioned to explore, from both positions, the perspective of the client.

Results/Findings: "Narrative analysis assumes that a good story is in itself theoretical" (Ellis, 2004; 195) and the question for me is the extent to which this narrative remains faithful to my everyday experience of therapy.

Research Limitations: As existing sources highlight (Sparkes, 2002; Ellis, 1995), autoethnography is often accused of being self-indulgent and narcissistic. Validity is more difficult to assess and requires especial attention to academic rigour. As Etherington (2004) argues, a reflexive process that combines inner story and researcher awareness of cultural context helps to ensure rigour.

Originality/Value: A mix of reflexive process, narrative and the use of an outsider witness, reflective team to portray a perspective of therapy process from inside.

Conclusions/Implications: The paper is of relevance to therapists and counselling researchers in its exploration of emotional readiness; client robustness; therapeutic ‘rules'; embodied relationship; co-created relationship.

References available on request, please email

back to top

Kirshen Rundle

Professional Role: PhD student and person-centred counsellor
Institution: University of East London
Contact details: Uplands Farmhouse, Chandler Road, Stoke Holy Cross, Norwich NR14 8RG

ABSTRACT: Theoretical and methodological innovation paper (Fri, 15.45 - 16.15)

Keywords: hearing voices, person-centred theory, person-centred therapy, medical model, qualitative research

Person-centred therapy with people who hear voices

Background and introduction: The experience of hearing voices has been regarded in different ways throughout history and across different cultures. Mainstream psychiatric discourse in this country often regards auditory or verbal ‘hallucinations' as primary symptoms of ‘mental illness' that need treating with anti-psychotic drugs, psychological therapies and/or (sometimes enforced) hospitalisation. In taking an essentialist position regarding the existence, form and ‘treatment' of ‘mental illness', the domination of this medical model limits the ways in which the hearing of voices can be understood and experienced. Such limits can exclude the offering of some forms of support which may help to alleviate associated distress. Stigmatising attitudes may also develop which position voice hearers as ‘mad', ‘bad' or, in some way, inferior.

Theoretical/Methodological argument/Perspective: To date there has been little research on person-centred therapy (PCT) with people who hear voices. This paper will discuss:

  • how person-centred theory can account for the experience of, and distress associated with, hearing voices without viewing it as a symptom of illness or disease;
  • the way PCT offers hope of therapeutic change by facilitating certain necessary and sufficient conditions which create a ‘healing' environment;
  • my planned PhD study which will use phenomenological methods to elicit broad and deep understandings of what this lived experience and PCT for associated distress both mean for the people involved.

Conclusion and relevance to counselling and psychotherapy research practice: A non-medical explanation and way of understanding has the potential to allow people - including the voice hearers themselves - to view the experience differently and so construct different meanings around any associated distress. Implications will be discussed, especially in relation to social attitudes (including stigma), opportunities for self-determination and mental health services. The value of researching qualitative subjective accounts from service users in order to make effective decisions about treatment options and outcomes will be considered. This seems important when working with disadvantaged people, or those on the margins of mainstream society, who can find it difficult to communicate their idiosyncratic needs to clinicians who claim, and are assumed, to be ‘experts', or to others in society.

back to top

Ann Scott

Professional Role: Psychotherapist, Supervisor and Trainer
Institution: University of Manchester
Contact details: The New Bungalow at the Manse, East Williamston, Tenby, Pembrokeshire, SA70 8RU

ABSTRACT: Paper (Fri, 11.40 - 12.10)

Keywords: integration, best practice guidelines, Christian

Mind the gap: what academics recommend and what Christian counsellors do

Aim/Purpose: This heuristic investigation looks at whether counsellors/psychotherapists who have a Christian faith are following best practice guidelines for integrating faith into practice, as expressed by three well-known academics in the field.

Design/Methodology: Dialogues were conducted with 20 Christian psychotherapists/counsellors, focussing on the experience of integrating faith and practice, what support existed for this and what issues arose. Findings were compared thematically with the views of Brian Thorne, Alistair Ross and John Swinton, ie academics representing a variety of both of psychological schools and Christian denominations. Discussion was overtly in light of the researcher's own experience.

Results/Findings: Practice often differed from recommendations of the academics in a number of ways. For example:-

  • Many practitioners seemed not to have enough ‘space' to develop their own spirituality and recognise how that affected practice.
  • Particular concerns were finding appropriate supervision, having limited access to peer group discussion and being misunderstood by the profession generally.

A picture of edge dwellers emerged, resonating with the researcher's personal experience

Research Limitations: Limitations due to the chosen methodology is discusses in terms of best fit to the research question, sample selection and generalisability.

Originality/Value: There is a lack of research in this area actually based on individual interviews. It points to a gap between actual and best practice for some practitioners and may be applicable to other faiths.

Conclusions/Implications: Issues of faith (in this case Christianity) and their effect on counselling practice need to be taken more seriously by the profession at all levels, including training, research, supervision and practice.

References available on request, please email

back to top

Anita Silvester

Professional Role: NHS Staff Counsellor. Part time student on Professional Doctorate course
Institution: University of Manchester
Contact details: 136, Buckingham Road, Heaton Moor, Stockport SK4 4RG

ABSTRACT: Poster (Fri, 10.15 - 10.45)

Keywords: thematic analysis, research, relationships, experiences

"Doing a Doc!" - The thoughts, relationships and experiences of students undertaking the Professional Doctorate in counselling

Aim/Purpose: To explore the thoughts and experiences of fellow students undertaking this course of study and to understand where my own experience fits within this. It is set within the literature describing the experiences of doctoral students from other institutions and disciplines and considers the similarities and differences between these.

Design/Methodology: Interviews were undertaken with students from different years on this course. There were six participants, four gave interviews and two sent written comments. The interviews were transcribed and along with the written accounts subjected to a thematic analysis.

BACP ethical guidelines for counselling research were followed. Particular care was taken to anonymise data used because all of the participants, being fellow students, would be known by the tutors marking the work.

Results/Findings: Four main themes were identified: Personal Development, Expectations, Finding your Voice and Passion. Each of these also had between two and five sub themes.

These themes and subthemes also contained indications of the many different relationships which develop within the student research process. These include expected relationships with supervisors, tutors and peers as well as those perhaps less expected, i.e. with themselves as emerging researchers, with the research topic chosen and with the research itself.

Research Limitations: This was a small study with a limited sample size. It also only considered the course in one organisation.

Originality/Value: There are a limited number of studies carried out in the USA regarding the experiences of students on the Professional Doctorate in Counselling. There are no identified published studies of this nature in the UK. Comparative studies with other disciplines in the UK were reviewed.

Conclusions/Implications: These are limited due to the small number of participants and size of study.

Participants were mostly very surprised at the level of impact this course has had on them, particularly as they usually perceive themselves as being very self aware. This was described as, ‘an unexpected therapeutic edge' to the course and research.

This learning, particularly if further researched, could be of benefit to students considering or undertaking such a course. It is also of potential help for tutors of counselling research programmes in recognising student needs and expectations.

back to top

Gail Simon

Professional Role: Therapist, Supervisor, Trainer and Doctoral Student at KCC London
Institution: The Pink Practice & Relate Institute
Contact details: Gail Simon, The Pink Practice, 16-19 Southampton Place, London, WC1A 2AJ

ABSTRACT: Workshop (Sat, 14.15 - 15.15)

Keywords: writing, reading, reflexivity, autoethnography, qualitative inquiry

Writing for readers: a challenge for practice researchers

Research topic/focus for workshop: How do we write research in a style which reflects the conversational and interactive nature of our counselling, supervisory and training relationships? The invitation in this workshop is not to see the ‘writing up' of research as a separate or even different activity to research or to clinical practice but to see writing as a relational activity (Gergen, 2000). Relationships between writer and reader are fluid, emergent and mutually influential. So how can we write in a style which anticipates the reader, sounds like real talk and not as if we are trying on a dead and borrowed language (Hooks, 1994; Lorde, 2004; Morrison quoted in Yagoda, 2004; Richardson, 2003; Shotter, 1997)?

In the workshop we will explore our own narratives about what counts as good writing in a research context and about the objective of writing for others. Examples of writing will be used to show how this is not just a behavioural or style change but an ethics led shift from writing about self and others to writing-from-within a relationship (Shotter, 2004; Wittgenstein, 1966). Writing about practice and outcomes has a complex history played out through a modernist split in artistic and scientific form. Writers of conversational practice research are well placed to challenge this dualism and find new ways of writing about what we do with others, how we speak about our inner talk and how we share that in the form of outer talk with professional audiences.

We will explore how using an extended concept of reflexivity moves the writer from being self-reflexive to an additional relationally-reflexive position (Burnham, 1992; Burnham & Neden, 2007).

Structured activity during workshop:

  • Presentation (with PowerPoint) making connections between theory and practice examples.
  • Group exercise exploring the relationship between reader and writer in different genres of research writing.
  • Group discussion about shifting narratives for participants about relationality in writing and reading.

Key points for discussion:

  • The relationship between reader and writer of research.
  • The sound and movement of writing.
  • Writing and reading as reflexive activities.

References available on request, please email

back to top

Prof. Dr. N. Stinckens and Drs. Hannes Verdru

Professional Role: Professor and researcher, Head of the postgraduate training programme in client-centered and experiëntial psychotherapy in Leuven
Institution: University of Leuven, Belgium
Contact details: Tiensestraat 102, 3000 Leuven, Belgium

ABSTRACT: Poster (Sat, 10.10 - 10.55)

Keywords: monitoring, Leuven Systematic Case-study Protocol (LSCP), therapy processes, feedback

Bridging the gap between research and practice: monitoring as a therapeutic strategy

Aim/Purpose: Despite the development of innovative research methods that are better corresponding to the complexity of psychotherapy, there still remains a gap between research and clinical practice. Therapists are not really implementing research into their clinical work; and researchers are not fully addressing to the problems and opportunities of the therapeutic field.

Providing treatment-response-feedback to therapists (‘monitoring') is a way to bridge this gap. Several studies indicate that clients fare better when feedback is provided: clients who are identified early as non-responders to treatment showed improved outcome and increased attendance; for clients who are identified as making adequate treatment progress, feedback decreased the number of therapy sessions without affecting final outcome.

At the KU Leuven the Leuven Systematic Case-study Protocol (LSCP) has been developed to monitor client progress (Stinckens, Elliott & Leijssen, in press). The LSCP mainly differs from other monitoring instruments, because it's using both quantitative and qualitative instruments, and encompassing a variety of outcome and process aspects.

There's a broad range of literature describing the effects of monitoring, but the amount of studies about the kind of processes that are initiated by these instruments is rather small. We intend to shed light on the mechanisms of change that are promoted by the LSCP. Also, we aim to explore which aspects of the LSCP feedback are more and less effective or helpful.

Design/Methodology: A discovery-oriented research methodology has been used to address our research questions. Semi-structured in depth interviews are taken from therapists, using the LSCP in their routine practice. The therapist's answers have been categorized by means of qualitative content analysis.

Results/Findings: A categorization of positive/helpful and negative/hindering aspects has been derived. The majority of the answers include positive processes, such as: intensifying client change processes, strengthening the alliance, stimulating reflective work, etc.

Research Limitations: The sample of therapists is rather small (N=15). The therapists are all participating in a psychotherapy training programme. Future research is planned on a larger and more varied sample.

Conclusions/Implications: Monitoring seems to be a promising method for therapists to enhance the effects of psychotherapy. Understanding the mechanisms of change that are initiated by this method could intensify and enforce the in-therapy-processes and increase its effectiveness and usefulness in routine psychotherapy practice.

References available on request, please email

back to top

Jacqueline M Swank and Monica Leppma

Professional Role: Professor and Heintzelman Eminent Scholar Chair (EHR)
Institution: University of Central Florida (EHR)
Contact details: College of Education, PO Box 161250, Orlando, FL, 32816

ABSTRACT: Poster (Fri, 10.15 - 10.45)

Keywords: altruism, counselling students, and phenomenological study

Counselling students' perception of the manifestation of altruism: a qualitative exploration among students in the United States and the United Kingdom

Aim/Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore counselling students' perception of the applicability of a model of altruistic behaviour. The model was proposed in a previous study by Robinson and Curry conducted with members of a Quaker retirement community. The conceptual framework for the contributing factors of altruism proposed by Robinson and Curry consisted of biological factors, social learning, cognitions, and spirituality.

Design/Methodology: A qualitative research approach was chosen to use in conducting this phenomenological study. The study explored counseling students' perceptions using an interview format and with purposive sampling. Participants consisted of master's level counselling students at a university in Florida and students enrolled in counselling programs at various universities in the United Kingdom. Institutional Review Board approval was obtained and access to recruit participants was granted by the counsellor education program at the university in Florida and by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. Participation in the study was voluntary. The study was piloted to evaluate the questions. Interviews were then conducted using a series of questions focusing on the perception of the development of altruism and the benefits and risks of being altruistic. The interviews were recorded using digital audio recording technology and transcribed to analyze the data and to identify emerging themes.

Results/Findings: The preliminary results suggest that counselling students view altruism as a contributing factor in being a successful counsellor. Additionally, social learning was identified as the predominant factor in the development of altruism. Furthermore, the results imply a possible developmental component related to the perception of the manifestation of altruism.

Research Limitations: The study involved a specific population consisting of counselling students at one university in Florida and students attending various universities in the United Kingdom that were present at the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy Research Conference.

Originality/Value: A previous study was conducted to explore a proposed model of altruistic behavior. This study expands upon the previous study to explore the proposed model specifically for counselling students in various countries.

Conclusions/Implications: Implications include identifying factors in career selection and altruistic behaviors and perceived conditions within the counseling process.

Robinson, E. & Curry, J. (in-press) Altruism: A study on the development of unselfish caring. Thresholds.

back to top

Clare Symons 1

Other Authors: Judith Turner and Jack Rogers

Professional Role: Lecturer in Psychodynamic Counselling, PhD student
Institution: The University of Leicester
Contact details: Vaughan College, St Nicholas Circle, Leicester, LE1 4LB

ABSTRACT: Paper (Fri, 11.05 - 11.35)

Keywords: professional conduct, complaints, audit, ethical practice, malpractice

What do people complain about? : An analysis of complaints made to BACP

Aims/Purpose: In autumn 2006 BACP approved a proposal to conduct an independent audit of their complaints which examined outcomes of complaints, and produced descriptive statistics about who complains and who is complained about. Stages 1 and 2 of the audit have been made public (Khele et al., 2008; Symons, 2008). This paper will present findings of the third stage of the audit, examining the nature of allegations of misconduct made in written complaints to BACP.

Design/Methodology: All cases identified in parts 1 and 2 of the project that had been accepted as having a case to answer were considered for analysis. Complaint letters were summarised into ‘incidents' which were then coded into categories and sub-categories using an abbreviated grounded theory. The complaints were then mapped against the categories and sub-categories in order to produce descriptive statistics. Ethical considerations were paramount throughout the project given the sensitive nature of the complaints material.

Results/Findings: 141 complaints cases were examined, yielding 370 ‘incidents' which were coded into nine categories and 36 sub-categories. The ‘Abuse of power' category was represented most in the complaints while the ‘Endings' category was least represented in the figures.

Research Limitations: The abbreviated grounded theory approach adopted in this project means that the rich accounts of complainants' experiences are not captured. In addition, the categories identified cannot be considered to be an exhaustive analysis of types of misconduct that might occur as this study examines only allegations made in complaints.

Originality/Value: There is no existing examination of complaints made to counselling and psychotherapy organisations within the UK. Comparable studies from outside the UK contain only limited analysis of the nature of misconduct.

Conclusions/Implications: The categories identified highlight potentially problematic areas of practice with implications for therapists, supervisors and counsellor trainers.

Khele S, Symons C & Wheeler S (2008) An analysis of complaints to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, 1996-2006 in Counselling and Psychotherapy Research June 2008; 8(2) 124-132.
Symons C (2008) Allegations of serious professional misconduct: An audit of BACP's Article 4.6 cases. Paper presented at BACP Research Conference, Cardiff, May 2008.

back to top

Clare Symons 2

Professional Role: Lecturer in Psychodynamic Counselling, PhD student
Institution: The University of Leicester
Contact details: Vaughan College, St Nicholas Circle, Leicester, LE1 4LB

ABSTRACT: Poster (Sat, 10.10 - 10.55)

Keywords: professional conduct, complaints, ethical practice, online research methods

Why don't people complain? : Investigating clients' reasons for not bringing a formal complaint

Aim/Purpose: A key finding from the audit of BACP complaints (Khele et al., 2008; Symons, 2008) is that members of the public are underrepresented as complainants, suggesting that some incidences of malpractice in counselling and psychotherapy are not complained about. This project aims to investigate the reasons why people who have experienced poor or harmful therapy might not bring a formal complaint. The project is part-funded by BACP.

Design/Methodology: The project comprises two parts: an online questionnaire to analyse the variety of reasons that people do not complain; and face-to-face interviews in order to explore in depth people's experiences of not complaining. It is hoped that the project will reach as many potential contributors as possible and a variety of means is being used to publicise the URL of the online questionnaire (, such as email contact with counselling organisations, notices in professional journals, and contact via online self-help forums. The Bristol Online Survey software has been used to construct the questionnaire and this will also be used for data analysis. Ethical considerations have been foremost throughout the design of the project.

Results/Findings: Data collection is in progress and it is envisaged that interim results from the online questionnaire will be available at the conference.

Research Limitations: People who have experienced poor or harmful therapy but who have not complained may be reluctant to volunteer to participate in research.

Originality/Value: There is no existing examination of complaints made to counselling and psychotherapy organisations within the UK. Comparable studies from outside the UK contain only limited analysis of the nature of misconduct.

Conclusions/Implications: It is hoped that the project will result in findings that can inform the development of ethical codes and complaints procedures for professional bodies in counselling and psychotherapy.

Khele S, Symons C & Wheeler S (2008) An analysis of complaints to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, 1996-2006 in Counselling and Psychotherapy Research June 2008; 8(2) 124-132.
Symons C (2008) Allegations of serious professional misconduct: An audit of BACP's Article 4.6 cases. Paper presented at BACP Research Conference, Cardiff, May 2008.

back to top


Belinda Harris and Stephen Joseph
Stuart McNab

Professional Role: Associate Professor (BH), Professor (SJ)
Institution: The University of Nottingham
Contact details: The School of Education, Jubilee Campus, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, NG8 1BB
Email: /

ABSTRACT: Symposium overview (Fri, 11.05 - 12.20)

Keywords: education, reflexivity, trauma, curriculum development, interdisciplinary

The role of research in the education and development of professionals in the field of psychological trauma. Lessons learned and new directions

Aim/Purpose: There are three recently developed trauma studies programmes in the UK offering education and reflective learning opportunities for therapists and other professionals working with traumatised people. Trauma studies is an interdisciplinary subject area and the three programmes are based in social work and counselling, social and communication studies, and nursing and midwifery. This symposium examines the role of research in the education and development of professionals working in the field of psychological trauma.

Symposium Design: Three papers explore the phenomenon from different perspectives. The symposium examines how these trauma programmes engage with pedagogical questions, such as: (1) how to integrate academic and experiential learning; (2) how to address the interdisciplinary nature of trauma studies; (3) how to evaluate the relevance and status of research knowledge.

Full abstracts for each paper are attached to this proposal. What follows is a brief overview of the research focus of each paper.

Paper One: Joseph and Harris (University of Nottingham) draw on reflective discussions between course leaders and staff members to identify key issues and dilemmas involved in setting up and running a new Postgraduate Certificate in Trauma Studies. These data are complemented and contrasted with the findings of a focus group involving course members.

Paper Two: Sinclair, Moutray, Peake & O'Hagan (University of Belfast) draw on records of reflective discussions between two groups of staff (trauma professionals and University educators) to examine the key role of practice-based research in facilitating exploration of traumatic material between students of diverse backgrounds within a post conflict society.

Paper Three: Murphy (University of Nottingham) examines the role of action research processes in preparing trainee social workers for their work with traumatized populations. The research illuminates the benefit of action research to not only enhance trainees' awareness, understanding and competence in this field but also to impact the development of a trauma service.

Results/Findings: The findings highlight how, despite significant issues, dilemmas and tensions involved in teaching/learning about psychological trauma, research can play a key role in helping students and staff to optimize personal and professional learning and minimize the risk of vicarious (re)-traumatisation. Collaborative approaches to research inquiry may be more effective in this regard than individual research.

Originality/Value: This symposium offers an opportunity to consider the psychological, academic and professional benefits of practice based research on psychological trauma at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. It also moves the trauma education research agenda to a new level.

Conclusions/Implications: The symposium will offer participants an opportunity to consider the broader implications of these findings for initial and continuing professional development of counsellors, psychotherapists, and other helpers and professionals working with traumatized people, and invite contributions to the research agenda in this relatively new field.

back to top


Belinda Harris and Stephen Joseph

Professional Role: Associate Professor (BH), Professor (SJ)
Institution: University of Nottingham
Contact details: The School of Education, Jubilee Campus, Wollaton Road, Nottingham, NG8 1BB

ABSTRACT: Symposium paper 1 (Fri, 11.05 - 12.20)

Keywords: trauma education, student voice, integration, curriculum development

Casualty or survivor? Students experiences of a postgraduate qualification in trauma studies

Aim/Purpose: This paper examines staff and student data to identify key factors which contributed to the staff and student experience of a new postgraduate certificate in trauma studies for experienced helping professionals, and located within an English University

Design/Methodology: This research project conformed to the requirements of the University of Nottingham's Research Ethics Committee. The course team engaged in regular reflective conversations to review issues and dilemmas arising within the course group and teaching team and recognized a direct relationship between these sets of experiences. These conversations were recorded and analysed alongside the transcript of a focus group set up expressly to research the experiences of course participants, separately from the University's quality assurance procedures. A thematic analysis identified a number of issues and informed subsequent plans for the delivery and organization of the programme.

Results/Findings: The findings indicated that experienced practitioners found it challenging to move beyond fixed ways of thinking about and working with trauma and towards greater appreciation of diversity in theory and practice. Process issues emerged as significant factors in determining students' willingness to move beyond their comfort zone. Equally, teaching and learning strategies were valued for informing more nuanced and creative ways of working with clients.

Research Limitations: This is a small scale pilot study and therefore any findings are tentative and formative. The authors lead the programme which may have affected graduates disclosures.

Originality/Value: This research addresses one of the intractable issues facing the profession at the moment, namely how to build bridges between different orientations. The research study shows that certain conditions are conducive for exploring and challenging assumptions and can reduce the risk of casualties emerging from such discourses.

Conclusions/Implications: The paper offers an original perspective on the role of research through its focus on working with experienced practitioners from diverse orientations and working in a range of contexts.

back to top


Helen Sinclair, Marianne Moutray, Sandra Peake and Marie Therese O'Hagan

Professional Role: Teaching Fellow (HS)
Institution: School of Nursing and Midwifery (HS)
Contact details: School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen's University Belfast

ABSTRACT: Symposium paper 2 (Fri, 11.05 - 12.20)

Keywords: trauma studies, post conflict society

Integrating formal and experiential learning methodologies in a new undergraduate programme in trauma studies in a post-conflict society: issues and dilemmas

Aim/Purpose: This paper examines the challenges and issues experienced in an innovative undergraduate programme on trauma within the post conflict context of Northern Ireland. The aim is to encourage debate and discussion of emergent issues, particularly related to the role of research in integrating academic and experiential elements.

Design/Methodology: The programme team consists of two staff groups from the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen's University, Belfast and the WAVE Trauma Centre, Belfast. One of the challenges of implementing a new trauma programme has been negotiating relationships between the staff team in order to introduce systematic, rigorous and practice based research teaching into the student experience at undergraduate level alongside experiential learning opportunities. Data sets include records of reflective discussions between staff.

Results/Findings: Lecturers experienced significant challenges in facilitating the open expression of student experiences from diverse backgrounds within a post conflict society. A research focus within the programme enabled students to share their experiences of trauma and additionally, to explore sensitive issues related to trauma such as abuse and violence. Historically, individuals have been silenced due to the security issues of living in a society in conflict. On this course, practice-based research facilitated open exploration of trauma in a safe environment. Emotive and controversial material was shared and explored, and student's perspectives on diversity have been broadened.

Originality/Value: This paper is innovative in raising the awareness of the issues and challenges experienced in educating and supporting students, from a range of backgrounds, enrolled on an undergraduate suite of trauma studies programmes in Northern Ireland.

Conclusions/Implications: The paper contributes to other papers within the symposium and offers a different perspective on the role of research led teaching and learning strategies and their application through its focus on the undergraduate trauma course.

back to top


David Murphy

Professional Role: Lecturer
Institution: University of Nottingham
Contact details: The School of Sociology and Social Policy, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD

ABSTRACT: Symposium paper 3 (Fri, 11.05 - 12.20)

Keywords: trauma, therapy, relationship focused social support

Engaging trainee social workers in trauma related research

Aim/Purpose: This paper examines the processes involved in setting up a new student placement unit to provide trainee social workers with experiences of working therapeutically with traumatised clients. A central aim of this work is to engage the trainees in action research and to develop their reflexivity as practitioners. Several new projects are underway demonstrating the applicability of trauma studies to the social work curriculum.

Design/Methodology: This paper presents the findings from a single exercise of an action research project. The project involved setting up a placement unit within a trauma service jointly funded by the NHS and the University of Nottingham. Placements ranged from 70 to 105 days and were focused on providing experience in relational and therapeutic work with traumatised populations. A key function of the students on placement was to take an active role in developing the centre to offer a network of trauma services within the region. Six students provided data by being invited to take part in an action research process within the field of trauma studies to highlight a number of key areas for development. This research conformed to the requirements of the University of Nottingham Research Ethics Committee.

Results/Findings: The findings suggested a clear role for therapeutic social work within a trauma service. This is operationalised in a number of ways:

  • Contributing a social perspective to trauma therapy;
  • Being willing and open to engaging in the research process;
  • Taking therapeutic trauma support beyond the consulting room and into the social context.

The findings present a clear way forward for developing clinical trauma services.

Originality/Value: This paper highlights the development of an approach to trauma work in statutory services that integrates psychotherapy and social work. The work demonstrates the application of relationship focused helping across disciplines and provides a new model for trauma service development.

Conclusions/Implications: The paper provides an overview of the contribution that social workers can make to trauma services and trauma related research. The paper complements the others in the symposium by raising awareness of the multidisciplinary approach required in trauma work and the benefits and challenges this presents.

back to top

Sandra Taylor

Professional Role: Programme Manager of Person Centred Counselling Courses
Institution: University of Cumbria
Contact details: University of Cumbria Counselling Courses, Room 325 Storey House, White Cross, South Road, Lancaster, LA1 4XQ

ABSTRACT: Poster (Sat, 10.10 - 10.55)

Keywords: dyad, pair, simultaneous, interview, mutually regulating

The 2:1 interview - rarity, richness, and reflections

Aim/Purpose: Why is the 2:1 interview within the field of counselling so rare? What is its potential richness in exploring issues about specific relationships? We will explore these issues and link them to reflections from early interviews using this method in the presenter's research into the ‘reciprocal influence of counselling students and trainers'.

Whilst interviewing is the most common qualitative research method this usually refers to 1:1 interviews. Where dyad or pair interviews are referred to closer inspection usually shows that the interviews have been undertaken separately. The 2:1 interview is rarely noted in research theory literature and the few examples are primarily within the family research field.

Design/Methodology: The 2:1 interview is a more transparent research method than the pair but separate interview as the primary research data emerges with all three present and engaged. A richness of data is gained whilst the experience is also potentially enriching for participants. Initial anxieties of not finding research participants were unfounded as people's interest in what may emerge in the process became obvious.

Results/Findings: ‘Truth' and ‘memory' are not fixed entities for the interviewer to uncover but rather are constantly evolving and their expression is impacted by the setting and the people present. Reflecting together on their experience of their relationship during a counselling training course ex-student and ex-trainer ‘mutually regulate' the content and process of the interview. Deep contact is made between the three co-researchers/co-participants in this semi-structured interview as memories are evoked and negotiated, similarities and differences are expressed and considered, their influence on each other are shared - often for the first time, and surprises pop up in unexpected areas.

Research Limitations: The research itself is in its early stages but gives enough material for this method of research to be highlighted in this way.
The method, while potentially very useful, may also be very daunting for some potential participant, it may be more likely to encourage participants who got on with each other and so miss out more negative relationships, and it will impact the relationship between participants and so should be timed appropriately.

Originality/Value: The 2:1 interview is a relatively rare research method with the potential to offer a great deal to the field of counselling and psychotherapy research. It offers greater transparency when research explores specific relationships.

Conclusions/Implications: Current research using this method reveals the richness of the data collected, including data that would not have emerged via another method; and shows interviewees primarily positive responses to their experience.

References available on request, please email

back to top

Mhairi Thurston and John McLeod

Professional Role: Supply pool lecturer in Counselling Skills and Counsellor (MT), Professor of Counselling (JM)
Institution: University of Abertay Dundee
Contact details: Tayside Institute of Health Studies, School of Social & Health Sciences, University of Abertay Dundee, Dundee, DD1 1HG, Scotland, UK

ABSTRACT: Paper (Fri, 11.05 - 11.35)

Keywords: counselling, emotion, grounded theory, visual impairment

An inquiry into the emotional impact of sight loss and the counselling experiences and needs of blind and partially sighted adults

Background: The link between the sight loss and depression is well documented. The UK Vision Strategy seeks to bring the emotional impact of sight loss into public awareness and improve access to emotional support for visually impaired people. However, dedicated counselling services for visually impaired people remain scarce.

Aim/Purpose: The aims of the study were to explore the emotional impact of sight loss in relation to five areas: mood, self concept, social connectedness, loss, and role of counselling.

Design/Methodology: 18 participants, average age 64, responded to an invitation to participate in the study. All the participants had a recognisable condition which resulted in sight loss. Quantitative data were collected using eight items from the Mental Health and Social Functioning subscales of the National Eye Institute 25 Item Visual Functioning Questionnaire (NEI-VFQ-25) Qualitative data were collected using semi-structured interviews, which were analysed using a Grounded Theory approach. Ethical consent for the study was given by the University of Abertay Dundee Research Ethics Committee. Informed consent was given by all participants before interview.

Results/Findings: Results found that participants with a serious eye condition shared a common transition from sight to blindness, starting with diagnosis, coping with deterioration of sight, experiencing loss in different areas of life, experiencing changed perceptions of self in relation to society, experiencing others in a changed way and experiencing rehabilitation. Participants also reported negative perceptions of counselling and a lack of counselling opportunities in relation to their sight loss, as well as a desire to have the opportunity of counselling during the time of diagnosis of a serious sight condition.

Research Limitations: The sample size and composition is a limitation of this study. There were no participants in this study who had been blind from birth. The researcher's personal experience of sight loss may have influenced this study.

Originality/Value: This study pushed the boundaries of our understanding by allowing the voices of blind and partially sighted adults to be heard.

Conclusions/Implications: The findings have implications for clinicians, service providers and counsellors, and highlight specific challenges facing those who deliver counselling to blind and partially sighted clients.

back to top

Ladislav Timulak and Rosaleen McElvaney

Professional Role: Course Director, MSc in Counselling Psychology (LT)
Institution: Trinity College Dublin, Dublin Institute of Technology (LT)
Contact details: School of Psychology

ABSTRACT: Paper (Sat, 11.55 - 12.25)

Keywords: significant events, insight events, qualitative meta-analysis, qualitative research, interpretation

Significant insight events in psychotherapy: a qualitative meta-analysis

Aim/Purpose: To provide a more comprehensive description of a phenomenon (Significant insight events) researched by a group of studies including its ambiguities and differences found in analysed studies.

Design/Methodology: Qualitative meta-analysis. The basic idea of qualitative meta-analysis is to provide a concise and comprehensive picture of findings across qualitative studies that investigate the same general research topic (Timulak, 2007; Timulak, in press). Qualitative meta-analysis is an attempt to conduct a rigorous secondary qualitative analysis of primary qualitative findings.

Results/Findings: Meta-analysis of processes found in insight events is based on 10 studies containing at least 209 different events. They contain complex processes: with the client's active participation (willingness to achieve better understanding of the important focus of therapy and work with the insight further), moderated by the client's preparedness, and the therapist affirmative interpretative activity that leads to further fruitful therapeutic work. The clients in the successful events are also tolerant of the therapist clumsiness and the events contribute to the quality of therapeutic relationship. Some insight events happen independently of the therapist interventions.

Research Limitations: There are several challenges to the purpose of qualitative meta-analysis. For example, there is a danger that qualitative meta-analysis overlooks the context in which primary studies were conducted.

Originality/Value: This is one of the few qualitative meta-analyses in psychotherapy research and the first one focusing on insight events.

Conclusions/Implications: The client's activity is central in successful insight events, the therapist stance in order to foster insight needs to be affiliative. The good insight events are usually linked to the focus of therapeutic interaction over few sessions.

Timulak, L. (in press). Qualitative meta-analysis: a tool for reviewing qualitative research findings in psychotherapy. Psychotherapy Research.
Timulak, L. (2007). Identifying core categories of client identified impact of helpful events in psychotherapy - a qualitative meta-analysis. Psychotherapy Research, 17, 305-314.

back to top

Dr Andreas Vossler

Other Author: Leon Fletcher-Tomenius

Professional Role: Lecturer in Psychology
Institution: The Open University, Faculty of Social Science
Contact details: Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA

ABSTRACT: Paper (Fri, 14.15 - 14.45)

Keywords: online, counselling, trust, therapeutic relationship, interpretative phenomenological analysis

Online therapists' experiences of trust in online therapeutic relationships

Aim/Purpose: Online counselling is increasingly being used as a method of therapeutic intervention. As with traditional face-to-face counselling it can be assumed that trust plays an important role in developing a working alliance online. However, due to fact that this is a relatively new field most previous studies have only focussed on the analysis of the therapeutic relationship in a face-to-face context. This study therefore aimed to explore trust in an online counselling context through analysing the views and experiences from the perspective of online therapists.

Design/Methodology: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six online counsellors accredited with the BACP (at least three years post-qualification experience). The following key questions were explored: How do online counsellors experience trust in online therapeutic environments? How does trust in online therapeutic environments differ with online counsellor's experiences of trust in face-to-face contexts? What affect does the presence or absence of trust have on online counsellors' therapeutic relationships? The transcript of the interviews were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analyses (IPA; Smith & Osborn, 2003).

Results/Findings: Three main themes arose through the process of analysis: 1) The role of anonymity in trust online, 2) the impact of the medium of communication 3) similar issues to forming trust as in face to face contexts. Anonymity seems to affect the development of the therapeutic relationship online through processes of disinhibition, feelings of safety, a neutral power balance and a process of internalising the other.

Research Limitations: Most of the online counsellors did have training from a person-centred perspective. Further research is needed to explore how therapists from other theoretical backgrounds experience trust when working online.

Originality/Value: The study findings have potential value for training/developing online services and highlight further areas of interest for future research.

Conclusions/Implications: The findings suggest that trust is pivotal for the counselling process in an online setting. Online trust in the therapeutic relationship seems to have many similarities to trust in the face to face environment, although there are also some key differences that need to taken into consideration when working online.

Smith, J., & Osborn, M. (2003). Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. In J. Smith, (Ed.) Qualitative Psychology. London: Sage Publications.

back to top

Sue Wheeler and Michael Barkham

Professional Role: Director of Counselling and Psychotherapy (SW)
Institution: University of Leicester (SW)
Contact details: Institute of Lifelong Learning, 128 Regent Road, Leicester, LE1 7PA

ABSTRACT: Paper (Sat, 14.50 - 15.20)

Keywords: supervision, research, network

Supervision toolkit: measures for sustainable, replicable research

Aim/Purpose: The scoping search on supervision (2003) and the systematic review of the impact of supervision on therapists and their clients (2007) revealed that many different measures and questionnaires have been used in supervision research over the past 30 years. This session will present our findings on the range of measures that have been widely used and recommend those that might be used preferentially in future collaborative supervision research. Potential research questions that are appropriate for a cooperative practitioner research network to engage with using similar recommended measures will be presented. Participants will be invited to comment on the toolkit both during and after the session

Design/Methodology: A search was made to find all the instruments that have been used in supervision research for the past 30 years. The instruments were reviewed and categorised according to their potential use. Advantages and limitations of the measures are discussed.

Results/Findings: Some measures have been used in many projects, others in a few projects but many have been used only once. These instruments were mapped onto categories that reflect the domains of supervision research and a brief commentary about each of the instruments and their potential use was added. Gaps in the existing range of measures are identified. The package of instruments, the map and the commentary is described as a toolkit for supervision research.

Originality/Value: The session will follow on from the pre conference workshop for some participants and present new information for others, who were unable to be present.

Conclusions/Implications: This session will enhance the capacity for participants to leave with ideas and tools that will enable them to undertake collaborative supervision research.

back to top

Sue Wheeler et al

Professional Role: Director of Counselling and Psychotherapy (SW)
Institution: University of Leicester (SW)
Contact details: Institute of Lifelong Learning, 128 Regent Road, Leicester, LE1 7PA

ABSTRACT: Paper (Sat, 11.20 - 11.50)

Keywords: evaluation, trainers, research methods

Training the trainers in research methods: an evaluation

Aim/Purpose: In 2007 we were awarded an ESRC/RDI grant to promote the training of counselling and psychotherapy trainers in research methods, with the aim of encouraging the incorporation of an understanding of research into counsellor training courses and the delivery of research methods training. This paper reports on the evaluation of the completed 18 month project.

Design/Methodology: The evaluation of the project has used a lifecycle approach (Meek, 2007). A wide range of data has been collected from event participants before, during and after events. This has included a training needs analysis and an analysis of ways in which research is currently included in training courses. A focus group was held at the end of the summer school and this and other sources have produced rich qualitative data. The questionnaires have been analysed using quantitative methods.

Results/Findings: A preliminary analysis of the data (given that the project events will not be completed until end January 2009) reveals that there are many gaps in the knowledge, experience and confidence of counselling and psychotherapy trainers in delivering research knowledge and methods in training courses. The curriculum for the majority of courses with respect to research knowledge and methods do not meet the new requirements for BACP accredited courses. The summer school in particular was a highly successful event as a result of which participants report that their confidence and competence in delivering research methods training is vastly improved.

Research Limitations: The findings reported here are preliminary but a full report will be available for presentation at the conference in May 2009.

Originality/Value: This project is unique. The project has provided valuable insight into the extent to which research methods training has been incorporated into counsellor training courses and to ways in which training has been delivered. It has enabled us to identify the training needs of staff and has indicated which teaching strategies for research methods training seem to be the most effective.

Conclusions/Implications: This is an evaluation of an innovative project that is professionally relevant to all counsellor trainers that will lead to a strategic plan of action to enhance research competence in the counseling and psychotherapy professions.

Meek, J. (2007). The lifecycle approach to Evaluation, Personal Communication.

back to top

Sue Wiggins

Professional Role: Counsellor and PhD student
Institution: University of Strathclyde
Contact details: University of Strathclyde, 76 South Brae Drive, Glasgow, G13 1PP

ABSTRACT: Paper (Fri, 14.50 - 15.20)

Keywords: relational depth, questionnaire, quantitative, validation

Prevalence, moderators and characteristics of relational depth events in counselling and psychotherapy

Aim/Purpose: The main objectives of this study were to go some way towards validating the Relational Depth Inventory (RDI) a questionnaire designed to assess perceived levels of relational depth (relational depth as described by Mearns and Cooper, (2005)). This study also serves to identify the extent to which relational depth was present during significant events in therapy, characteristics of such events, and factors which determine their prevalence.

Design/Methodology: 363 clients and therapists described an important event in therapy. Narrative descriptions were analysed using content analysis and inter-rater reliability tests. Comparison tests were used to analyse role and gender. Correlation was used to analyse the relationship between the rated narrative descriptions and RDI items.

Ethical approval was granted by the Strathclyde University Ethics Committee.

Results/Findings: Relational depth was deemed to be either probably or clearly present in approximately one third of the significant events described by both clients and counsellors.

Such events were especially characterised by feelings of connection, love, respect, being respected and intimacy and were more likely to occur for females than males.

Research Limitations: The clients in the study may have also been therapists due to the recruitment process (counselling directories were emailed asking for participation where therapists could respond as a client drawing on their client experience).

Originality/Value: So far there is no measure designed to assess relational depth and no quantitative studies which explore its' characteristics or presence during significant events in therapy.

Conclusions/Implications: This research emphasises the relationship between practice and research in that it informs practitioners that relational depth may occur equally for clients and counsellors in around a third of significant events in therapy and that it may not occur as much for males compared to females. It also suggests that to experience relational depth practitioners need to be open to experiences of connection, love, respect and intimacy.

Mearns, D. & Cooper, M. (2005) Working at Relational Depth in Counselling and Psychotherapy London: Sage.