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Seminars & Speakers 2017 - Day 2

DAY 2 – Tuesday 6th June 2017, Research and Creativity

09:00-10:00   Keynote Lecture with Professor Kim Etherington

‘Creativity and Research: How do they go together?’

Then choose ONE(1) Methodology for the rest of the day

Option 1

Narrative Inquiry

Kim Etherington

Option 2

Action Research

Angela Cotter

Option 3


Marie Adams

Option 4

Grounded Theory

Georgia Lepper and Tirril Harris



Option 1: NARRATIVE INQUIRY Speaker: Professor Kim Etherington

Narrative Inquiry is an umbrella term that covers an array of theoretical forms, philosophical positions, methods and analytical practices. This diversity provides flexible and systematic ways of gathering, analysing and re-presenting complex material in storied forms that explains and describes human experiences with much of its messiness and complexity still intact. The diversity within and between these approaches reflects one of the basic tenets of postmodernity: that there is no one ‘right way’.


My own approach is based upon notions of postmodernism and social constructionism underpinned by feminist values including transparent collaboration, acknowledgment of power and inequality and challenges to patriarchal ‘expert’ knowledge.These ideas have contributed to a greater recognition of the importance of the relationship between the storyteller and the listener/reader, and between the knower and what is known, and what each brings with them into the research relationship to create meaning and understanding of the topics under exploration. Central to all of this is the use of reflexivity as the main instrument for ethical inquiry that views knowledge and knower as interdependent and embedded within history, context, culture, language, experience, and understandings.

Narrative Knowing

Knowledge gained through stories is memorable and interesting. It brings together layers of understandings about a person’s culture and context; their embodied engagement in events, their senses, feelings, thoughts, attitudes and ideas; the significance of other people; the choices and actions of the teller: based on values, beliefs and aims; historical continuity; and metaphors, symbols, and creative, intuitive ways of knowing that create pictures that capture vivid representations of experiences.The shape of a story helps organise information about how people interpret events; the values, beliefs and experiences that guide their interpretations; and their hopes, intentions and plans for the future. Within stories we find complex patterns, descriptions of identity construction and reconstruction, and evidence of social discourses that impact on a person’s knowledge creation from specific cultural standpoints. Knowledge gained in this way is situated, transient, partial and provisional; characterized by multiple voices, perspectives, truths and meanings (McCormack, 2004, p.220).

Narrative conversations

A narrative researcher begins from a ‘curious, not knowing’ position (Anderson and Gehart 2007) and focuses on questions that help the storyteller tell their stories.Thus the research conversations are dynamic and organic dialogical processes. Questions emerge as the researcher strives to understand participants’ descriptions of their experiences, and to clarify and check if she is clear about what the person wishes to convey. In this dialogic process the researcher can include her own questions as they arise and/or additional clarifications can be made later through email, phone contact or further meetings. It is important that the reader has some access to the researcher’s voice to judge their part in the co-construction of knowledge 


Analysis (meaning making) occurs throughout the research process rather than being only a separate activity carried out after data collection.  The emphasis is on co-construction of meaning between the researcher and participants.  While being involved in/ listening to/reading the conversations, researchers take in what is being said and compare it with their personal understandings, without filling in gaps in understanding with ‘grand narratives’, but rather inquiring about how pieces of the stories make sense together. The process of ‘data gathering’ and ‘analysis’ therefore becomes a single harmonious and organic process.


The crisis of representation created by postmodernism has led researchers to gravitate to forms of inquiry that are diverse and creative.

The stories are re-presented in ways that preserve their integrity and convey a sense of the irreducible humanity of each person’s lived experiences. This may be by any creative means of verbal or visual expression such as storytelling, dance, movement, knitting, poetry, metaphor, song, making music, tapestry, graphics, wood carving, film making, collage, clay modelling, glass painting, origami, lantern and craft making – all of which can be used as ways to investigate and represent the topic in question, either by participant or researcher or both. Combining stories with creative expression may facilitate deeply reflective multi-layered visual, cognitive, emotive and embodied ways of knowing that are much richer, fuller and holistic than words or numbers alone may provide.




Kim Etherington PhD is an Emeritus Professor of Narrative and Life Story Research at the University of Bristol, Fellow of BACP, BACP senior accredited counsellor and supervisor, and accredited EMDR practitioner.

Her doctoral research was a study of adult male survivors of childhood sexual abuse which was published in her first book in 1995. Since then she has gone on to publish a narrative case study entitled ‘Narrative approaches to working with adult male survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Her other books show different ways of using narrative inquiry: ’Becoming a reflexive researcher: using ourselves in research’; ‘Trauma, the body and transformation: a narrative inquiry’; ‘Trauma, drug misuse and transforming identities: a life story approach’; and two edited books use stories written by practitioners in rehabilitation and health settings.      

Kim has taught nationally and internationally on topics related to reflexivity, narrative inquiry, trauma, abuse and health.

Since retiring from employment at the university in 2010 she has offered freelance mentoring and support to people interested in creative, reflexive, collaborative research such as Narrative Inquiry and Autoethnography. Alongside, she runs a small practice providing EMDR and clinical supervision. 

Keynote and seminar themes: ‘Creativity and Research: how do they go together?’

Kim’s presentation will spend some time exploring:

  • what we mean by creativity;
  • the conditions that support creativity and work against it;
  • how we can achieve those conditions;
  • what research has said about the characteristics of creative people and how all of that might inform research training. 

To you from Kim

‘Bearing in mind that creativity is more easily recognised than described - and, as someone who believes in the need for balance between ‘showing and telling’ - I shall limit the time spent on ‘Telling’ to leave space for me to read you three short stories that will ‘show’ you how I have used a fairy story genre to disseminate knowledge gained in one of my own research studies. I look forward to hearing your responses’.  

Following that there will be time for conference delegates to evaluate the re-presentation of Kim’ research in terms of quality criteria relevant to Narrative Inquiry. A short video on ‘Reflexivity’ will be shown as a stimulus for discussion of reflexivity. 




Narrative Inquiry Co-facilitator: Foziha Hamid

Foziha will assist throughout the day. She will share some of her experiences from doing Narrative Research into Sexual Violence in the digital age.

During the afternoon Foziha Hamid, seminar facilitator and Clinical Manager at the Women and Girls Network will also introduce her Narrative Research about Sexual Violence in the Digital Age.

Foziha is the Clinical Lead at West London Rape Crisis Centre; a specialist service of Women & Girls Network, a pan-London organization established in 1987 which provides holistic services to women and girls who have experienced gendered violence.  With over ten years expertise within the field of ending violence against women & girls as a psychotherapist and clinical supervisor.   Working within the context of a gendered analysis to violence understanding the impact of trauma on individuals and critically how recovery is achieved and sustained.  A particular interest in working with marginalised groups at a community level and ensuring their voices shape service delivery at both operational and strategic level.




Foziha is undertaking research on sexual violence in the digital age, exploring ways in which practitioners working within sexual violence services construct meaning in relation to technology-facilitated sexual violence against adult women to evaluate critically the ways in which practitioners working in sexual violence services respond to women’s experiences and explore the impact this may have in their practice to add. The full title of her research is: A Study of Sexual Violence in the Digital Age. The impact of working with technology-facilitated sexual violence against women within sexual violence services




Option 2: ACTION RESEARCH – Speaker: Dr Angela Cotter 

Action research is a creative approach to doing research found in many disciplines including education, management, nursing, psychology and psychotherapy, political and social science. Most definitions include three important themes: its participatory character, its democratic impulse and its simultaneous contribution to social science and social change.  It is change-oriented as well as seeking to contribute to knowledge and it aims to foster inclusion and equality, seeking to evaluate process and outcome of change within the real world context.

As an approach to research, action research lends itself to the use of a variety of research methods. Reason and Torbert (2001) divided it into three types: 

  • First person research which is personal experience research, based on acting awarely and assessing the effects while acting. Within psychotherapy, John Lees (2001) refers to this as “reflexive” action research. 
  • Second person research works collaboratively with others to inquire into issues of mutual concern, for example, into ways of improving our personal and professional practice.
  • Third person action research aims to extend these relatively small scale projects into a wider community of inquiry who may not be known to each other and may indeed be geographically distant from each other.

There is another continuum of action research which looks, for example, at the position of the researcher within a project. This has experimental action research at one end and empowering action research at the other. At all points on the continuum the focus is one of doing research with and for people rather than on them. In the experimental type, the researcher is the expert and in the empowering type, the focus is on collaboration between participants and researcher. The latter is sometimes called participatory action research or co-operative inquiry. For further information see, for example, Reason and Bradbury ed. (2013). 

Because of its close links between research and practice, Action research is an approach that is well suited to psychotherapy and psychology with the increasing focus on practice-oriented and practice-based research.  

The workshop will focus on collaborative action research, conducted over a two- year period, into a creative arts-based project involving people with dementia in a continuing care setting and the staff who worked with them.  Participants in the research included the presenter, as researcher, working inclusively with staff from the third sector project and the continuing care setting, including training some in data collection and analysis. The project’s four stages will be described: the first phase of setting up the project (mainly action); the second phase (consolidation of the project - action supported by research); the third phase of researching the action and the fourth of completing the cycle with data analysis of narrative interviews from all participants including people with dementia, and other data collected at different phases of the project.  The workshop will consider how the increasing use of creative arts in research practice might influence data collection and analysis further in action research now. Ethical issues in action research in general and in projects involving people with dementia specifically will be explored. The workshop will give those who attend a taste of what it might be like to be involved in such a project. 

Angela Cotter biography:

Dr Angela Cotter



Angela Cotter is a Jungian analyst (GAP, IAAP, UKCP) in London, Head of Research at the Minster Centre, and a Visiting Lecturer at Regent’s University. She is a representative of the UKCP Research Faculty Committee.

Since her PhD in 1990 about narratives of nurses’ own experience of severe acute and chronic illness in themselves, she has worked on the concept of the wounded healer, including having a twoyear Fellowship at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre to do action research on the concept in health and social care. 

Angela has worked in first, second and third person action research. Chapters of her PhD were auto-ethnographic and her current research interests are developing this approach further. She undertook second person action research while working on the Woodbrooke Fellowship and second and third person action research while Principal Investigator for four years on a Department of Health funded project, (extended for two further years with local funding) working towards seamless care of older people discharged from acute hospitals involving service users, carers, and multidisciplinary staff teams in the statutory, private and third sector (both general and mental health care).  

Angela also has a background in nursing, NHS management and education. At Minster Centre, she and other members of the Research Team are developing creative ways of teaching research that humanise research and make it more accessible for students. Her clinical practice is rooted in Jungian work, further enriched by trainings in energy psychotherapy, family and systemic constellations and Celtic shamanism. 


Further Reading:

Cotter A with Fraser F, Langford S, Rose L & Ruddock V (2001) Getting Everybody Included: Report on a Magic Me action research project involving people with dementia and those who work with them. London: Magic Me. 

Lees J (2001) Reflexive Action Research: Developing knowledge through practice. In.Counselling and Psychotherapy Research: 1(2): 132-138  

Reason P & Bradbury H (2013) The Sage Handbook of Action Research: Principles and Practice. Second edition. London: Sage 

Reason P & Torbert WR (2001).The Action Turn: towards a transformational social science. In Concepts and Transformations 6(1): 1-37.




Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, or IPA, is often mistaken for the ‘easier’ option in research and data analysis. Focusing as it does on a small number of participants, it allows for a deep examination of a particular ‘phenomena’ and ‘the detailed examination of lived experience” (Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009, p. 32) amongst a homogeneous group.

Semi-structured interviews with participants are transcribed and undergo a rigorous line-by-line examination. The analysis is slow and detailed and, holding to the phenomenological integrity of the process, the feelings and experience of the researcher in relation to the participants is vital in the interpretation of the data. Reading and re-reading, note taking and the recognition of emergent themes are at the heart of IPA analysis and It is only in the writing up that the analysis and interpretation becomes ‘fixed’ (Smith et al., 2009, p. 81).

While IPA does not allow for generalisations, it can provide a moving account of how life can be experienced by a particular group of people, or how their experience can differ regardless of apparent similarities. The intention is not to prove, but rather to understand a particular aspect of life.

Marie Adams’ research focuses on the personal lives of therapists and the impact this has on their work. While her initial study focused on 40 therapists, they were broken down into groups of ten to consider the difference and similarities between Integrative, psychoanalytic, cognitive and humanistic therapists. Elements of grounded theory and Moustakas’ heuristic approach were also incorporated into her study and in the collection and analysis of the data. The computer programme, Nvivo was used to document the emergent and super-ordinate themes.

Dr Marie Adams biography:



Dr Marie Adam is a writer and psychotherapist with a private practice in Dorset.  She is on the DPsych staff at Metanoia, responsible for two aspects of the programme, Professional Knowledge and the Review of Personal and Professional Learning. Her book, The Myth of the Untroubled Therapist (Adams, 2014) is now a standard text on counselling and psychotherapy courses throughout the country. She is also the author of Telling Time (Adams, 2015), a novel, and has written extensively on creativity in academic writing. Marie’s current research focus is on how therapists self-sooth, an emergent theme from her earlier study.




Option 4: GROUNDED THEORY – speakers: Dr Tirril Harris and Dr Georgia Lepper

UKCP Research Faculty Committee Members






Dr Georgia





Tirril is a psychotherapist in private practice. She also conducts research at the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College, University of London. Her specific research interests include the aetiology of depression and anxiety; stressful experiences; gender; mixed methods; randomised control trials (RCTs); and the PRN.









Georgia is a clinician/researcher. She is a specialist in conversation analysis (the study of turn-by-turn interaction) which she uses to investigate clinical interaction. She is a supervisory consultant to doctoral students at the University of Exeter.