In 2017 we awarded two PhD bursaries to students undertaking research relevant to our strategic aims. Mary and Antonella will be liaising with BACP's research team and keeping us up to date as their research progresses.

These are the projects that they will be undertaking.


Mary Atito, Metanoia Institute and Middlesex University

Men and Therapy; A mixed-method study into men's experiences of therapy, focusing on black men in London

A positive future for black men in psychotherapy


Research in the UK (De Maynard, 2007; Dupont-Joshua, 2003; Keating & Robertson, 2004; Miller’s, 2003; Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, 2002) has begun to acknowledge men’s challenges to engage in therapy. This highlights the need for significant qualitative understanding in this area for appropriate therapeutic interventions to be established and targeted.

This study focuses on black men’s means of ‘coping’, with a special interest in their documented reluctance to seek assistance for emotional or physical problems. Statistics and research reveal the economic, social status, and health (De Maynard, 2007; Dupont-Joshua, 2003; Keating & Robertson, 2004; Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, 2002) deficits of black men in the UK and the black male population is underrepresented in therapy. The process of black men considering therapy is also absent in the literature.

A suggestion for research is proposed which gives a podium to black men to voice their perspective. A future study will provide understanding of black males: occupying an active position in the growth of therapeutic theory and practice.


"I am honoured to be given the opportunity to produce research at this level, with the backing of the BACP, on an under-represented area in psychotherapy. This opportunity will help to shed light on the area of men and therapy, with the aim of providing practitioners with insight in to positive practices to better engage men in psychological therapies."

Antonella Cirasola, University College London

The role of therapeutic alliance in psychological therapies for adolescent depression


While the efficacy of psychotherapy has been established, little is known about how therapeutic change is facilitated, especially in adolescence. The therapeutic alliance is considered an active agent of change across most psychotherapies.

This study aims to:

  1. investigate if early alliance predicts symptom change in psychotherapy for adolescents with depression, and whether patients’ characteristics moderate the alliance–outcome relation
  2. compare trajectories/patterns of alliance during treatment and explore their relationship to symptom change
  3. describe the development of the alliance, including ruptures and resolutions, and explore how patients and therapists negotiate this over treatment.

The setting for this study is the Improving Mood with Psychoanalytic and Cognitive Therapies (IMPACT) trial, in which 465 adolescents with diagnosis of major depression were randomised to receive cognitive-behavioural therapy, short-term psychoanalytic psychotherapy and brief psychological intervention. Data includes audio recordings of therapy sessions, patient and therapist evaluated alliance, a battery of outcome measures and in-depth qualitative interviews with patients and their therapists. The use of self-report, observational and qualitative data will allow a mixed-methods, multi-perspective, longitudinal description of the alliance and its link to psychotherapy process and outcome.

"I am very excited to undertake research in psychotherapy in collaboration with BACP, due to our common interest in improving counselling and psychotherapy for young people with relevant research. Studying more closely specific dimensions of change, such as therapeutic alliance, might help to gain a better understanding of psychotherapy change mechanisms and outcomes, which would impact upon and improve the provision and delivery of psychological therapies for adolescents."

For details of future bursaries and other research awards, see Research awards and grants