Research bites

A selection of papers from BACP’s Counselling and Psychotherapy Research journal focusing on global issues in counselling and psychotherapy research, policy and practice

Therapists and climate anxiety

For this qualitative study, eight therapists were interviewed about their experiences of climate change and its implications for professional practice. Overall, therapists’ personal experiences and their perceived client experiences of climate change were complex and they felt ill equipped to support their clients in the climate crisis. It is important for professional bodies and training institutions to provide leadership and guidance to therapists that enables them to support clients and themselves. Participants felt there was an ethical obligation for them to consciously face their own thoughts around the climate crisis and work with clients surrounding their conscious and unconscious processes on this topic. There is a need for clients and therapy itself to be conceptualised within social, economic and political contexts.

Read more: Silva JF, Coburn J. Therapists’ experience of climate change: a dialectic between personal and professional. 

Vulnerable young people in lockdown

This investigation used focus groups with 12 digital mental health service professionals to understand the experiences of vulnerable young people (VYP) during the first UK COVID-19 lockdown. The focus groups identified four main themes, two of which, ‘Experience and consequence of loss’ and ‘Feeling separate and isolated’, captured VYP’s loss of connection, autonomy and freedom. The theme of ‘Escalation of risk’ captured VYP’s resulting maladaptive coping mechanisms such as self-harm and suicidal thinking. The final theme of ‘Feeling supported and empowered’ described the positive outcomes of lockdown, including the increase in online therapy provision. Recommendations include increased support for VYP, with both offline and online therapy provision.

Read more: Mindel C, et al. Alienated and unsafe: experiences of the first national UK COVID-19 lockdown for vulnerable young people (aged 11–24 years) as revealed in web-based therapeutic sessions with mental health professionals. 

In the spotlight

‘It's important to open discussions on how interventions can be linguistically sensitive’

Laura Serrani MBACP is an integrative counsellor and psychotherapist managing a school-based counselling service in London. She has a background in philosophy, learning psychopathology and Gestalt therapy. In 2018 she undertook her master’s research at the University of Roehampton on the role of multilingual dynamics in therapy with children and adolescents.

Tell us about your research

It’s aimed at interpreting possible meanings connected to multilingual dynamics in therapy with children and young people and how these meanings might influence the therapeutic relationship. (Serrani, L. A journey through languages: A systematic literature review on the multilingual experience in counselling and psychotherapy with children and adolescents. 

What motivated you to undertake research in student counselling?

What motivated you to undertake research on multilingual dynamics? I have been driven by my personal experience of attending therapy in English, my second language, and the enormous value that it has brought to my personal growth. I also wanted to address the gap in the existing literature on bilingualism/multilingualism in therapy with children and young people.

What are some of the implications of your research?

This research shows that it is important to open discussions on how interventions can be linguistically sensitive and adapted to bilingual/multilingual clients’ needs in order to avoid discrimination and unconscious power dynamics that might have an impact on clients’ therapy journeys. The results highlight the need for further research to inform standards and training courses. I would encourage fellow therapists working with multilingualism/bilingualism to get involved with case studies and auto-ethnographies.

• In each issue a practitioner, postgraduate student or academic will tell us about how their research may inform therapeutic practice.