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Further information about the session

Each seminar is held by a chapter contributor to the Enjoying Research books, lasting 1.5 hours and consisting of a presentation followed by a ‘taster’ of ‘doing’ the research.

The event in supported by the UKCP for funding of the Research Supervision study and by Palgrave Macmillan, offering 30 % discount on Enjoying Research books for orders before the 15th of February 2022.



Seminars and speakers

The overarching aim with the conference is to introduce therapists to research approaches ranging from qualitative to qualitative via mixed methods research. The contributors represent a broad range of approaches and universities, as listed below

Dr Sofie Bager-Charleson. Director of Studies for the MPhil/PhD at the Metanoia Institute.

Dr Clio Berry. Lecturer in Healthcare Evaluation and Improvement, BSMS, University of Brighton.

Nicola Blunden. Director of Studies for the BA/Diploma in Person-Centred Counselling, the Metanoia Institute.

Professor Divine Charura. Programme Director for the Counselling Psychology Doctorate at the York St John University

Dr Sally Cook. Associate Research Fellow at Birkbeck University of London,

Professor Nollaig Frost. School of Applied Psychology. University College Cork, Ireland

Dr Cassie Hazell. Senior lecturer in Clinical Psychology at the University of Westminster

Dr Alistair McBeath. Director of Studies for the DPsych by Public Works at the Metanoia Institute.

Dr Peter Pearce.  Faculty Head for the faculty of applied social and organisational sciences, Metanoia Institute

Dr Saira Gracie Razzaq.  Director of Psychology and Well-Being Services (NHS) and Primary Tutor on DCPsych, Metanoia Institute.

Dr Louise Rolland. Associate Research Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London

Dr Biljana van Rijn. Faculty Head of Research and Doctoral Programmes at the Metanoia Institute

Pablo Van Schravendyk and DPsych candidates (Cohort 21) are accredited psychotherapists and doctoral researchers specialising in professional studies in Psychotherapy.


Theme 1: Being a Researcher



Professor Nollaig Frost’s seminar is based on her published book Practising Research: why you are always part of the research process even when you think you’re not, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016, and on her current book-in-progress. How to Become a Researcher (working title), Open University Press.  Being a researcher means that you are curious to find out and understand more about aspects of the world around you. In one sense we are all researchers all the time: exploring, hypothesising and seeking explanations for things and people we want to know more about. Professor Frost expands on how being an academic or practitioner/researcher means going beyond opinions, beliefs, hunches, anecdotes and ideas that often provide starting points for research, to carry out research that is formalised, rigorous and based on techniques and approaches that are valued and recognised by others. Being a formal researcher also means recognising personal characteristics and resources and understanding how these can be acknowledged and nurtured to improve research practice. By highlighting these elements of research, Nollaig’s seminar will show you how you can be a researcher who carries out high quality research that not only addresses your own curiosity but also contributes to the field. We will also celebrate Professor Frost’s 2nd edition of ‘Qualitative Research Methods in Psychology: Combining Core Approaches’, Open University, on the book launch in the evening.

Researchers and mental health. 

Researchers and mental health

Dr Cassie Hazell and Dr Clio Berry offer a seminar based on their powerful research into the mental health of doctoral researchers. Their expansive study into mental health problems and suicide risk among doctoral students is based on an online, cross-sectional survey with between-group design that involves comparing responses from Doctoral Researchers (DRs) with a matched group of educated Working Professionals (WPs), drawing on screening tools for depression, anxiety, mania and suicidality, and a thematic analysis of qualitative data drawn from free text comments. As expanded upon in their seminar - DRs were found to be particularly vulnerable to experiencing mental health difficulties during their PhD. Dr Hazell and Dr Berry refer to their findings from an online survey showing that 40% of DRs (n=1300) met Suicide Behaviour Questionnaire-Revised criteria for being at high risk of suicide. Within the qualitative data, the study identified three higher-order themes: (a) lived experience of suicidality; (b) PhD: the good, the bad, the ugly; and (c) life outside the PhD. The seminar highlights areas of support and obstacles and opportunities to enjoy research, whilst illustrative innovative use of survey and mixed methods research.


Bumps, Bruises and Beyond. Metanoia D(Psych) by Professional Studies’ candidates.

Pablo Van Schravendyk and DPsych candidates (Cohort 21). Thisseminar offers a collection of experiential vignettes of challenges encountered during the creating and implementation of research designs, their impact on the researcher and how they were overcome. The theme through this seminar is relationships: between academic rigour and creativity, the pragmatic and the personal, self-care and humility, and the vital importance of peer support. Cohort 21 promote ‘resilience, endurance, perseverance and crisps’ as essential qualities for psychotherapists to enjoy and overcome the bumps and bruises of the research experience. The seminar addresses questions like: how do we challenge the complexity of philosophical approaches when there are so many variations, exploring this with confidence and not feeling like a phoney; the profound political impact of one researcher’s investigation into bullying and harassment in their organisational setting; applying a data analysis method that has nopre-defined epistemological positioning and creating a bespoke research design; responses to the pragmatic and personal impact of life events (e.g. Covid, grieving or mental health issues) on the research process; the challenge of embodied phenomenology; participant sampling and gatekeeping dilemmas; the implementation of an approach to phenomenological interviewing.


Research Support and Supervision. 


Research support


Dr Sofie Bager-Charleson and Dr Alistair McBeath follow up the theme of ‘researcher support’, based on a UKCP supported mixed methods study into the experience of research supervision among supervisors and supervisees on research training for psychotherapists and counselling psychologists. What makes research supervision on doctoral programmes constructive versus non-constructive for therapists? What might supervisors learn from supervisees’ experiences of supervision, and vice versa? The questions permeated their online survey (n=226) with closed and opened questions generating 558 comments and 10 subsequent follow-up interviews. The seminar will refer to how the findings, first and foremost, showed an unequivocal appreciation of research supervision. In the free text comments, supervisees stressed the value of research experience, empathy and containment. The interviewed supervisees valued trust and broad research knowledge as well as being exposed to optional approaches. Supervisors emphasised, in turn, the importance of self-directive learning. One particularly illustrative example was how one supervisee described her supervisor as her ‘telescope’ – helping her to navigate and see across great distances – whilst a supervisor chose to illustrate his role as ‘stethoscope’ to support each student to connect ‘inwardly’ and build their own relationship with research. Common across both groups, with their different setups, priorities and archetypes, were what Bager-Charleson and McBeath propose as a 'relational' supervision based on the '3 Cs': Containment, Compassion, and Clarity.


Theme 2 and 3: Diversity and Innovative Methodology

Doing Decolonising Research. 


Doing Decolonising Research

Professor Divine Charura explores the importance of a critical engagement with one’s ontological and epistemological position in counselling, psychotherapy and psychology research design. By this we mean questioning ‘the nature of reality’ and one’s own experience of ‘being in the world’ (Pring, 2004). In relation to epistemology, we mean critically exploring how the theory of knowledge and the methods used to gain understanding of social reality are generated (Grix, 2001). This seminar expands on how research can enable one to engage with the ways in which Eurocentric perspectives and power inform a system that maintains mechanisms that perpetuate oppression and discrimination and, thus, to challenge how knowledge is generated and gain the openness to embody a non-defensive approach and a capacity for reflection. Divine will refer to her own studies in the field of arts-based and duoethnographic research. The latter builds on the autoethnographic tradition in which the researcher foregrounds her/himself as participants in the study. Duoethnography uses the interaction between people and their perceptions to unearth different subjectivities and generate new meanings – often focusing on the discovery and exploration of overlapping understandings found in between their perspectives and thereby creating ‘hybrid identities’ (Asher, 2007, p. 68) instead of ‘binary opposites’ (p. 3). We will also celebrate Professor Divine Charura’s and Professor Colin Lago’s new book in the evening, titled Black Identities + White Therapies: Race, respect + diversity,by PCCS Books. Please follow this link to read more: ‘We have that history to face in our own household’ | The Psychologist (bps.org.uk)



Dr Saira Razzaq examines the stages of a reflexive autoethnographic study, drawing on an evocative personal narrative to describe, interpret, reconstruct, and transform the traumatic effects of colour racism on the self. She will describe her research using process-orientated, creative analytic practices (Richardson, 2002) as well as her non-traditional attempts to use various methods, analyses and narrative writing strategies to make links between life events. Dr Razzaq’s seminar builds on her book chapter, which illustrates the use of multiple processes in order to find the subjugated voices of racist trauma and produce work that is evocatively expressive, situated and informative of cultural, lived and critically-edged experience (Ellis, 2003). The session also includes references to developments within autoethnography and makes reference to co-constructing approaches such as duoethnography. 


Co-production research and pluralistic inquiry.


Nicola Blunden expands on her research into ‘presence’ in psychotherapy. She describes her use of ‘co-productive’ research, which is positioned under the umbrella of pluralistic inquiry and emphasises dialogue, collaboration and the co-existence of multiple truths in order to secure opportunities for people from different backgrounds to co-produce knowledge in ways that support their involvement in decision-making. Co-production is an example of a pluralistically oriented form of research that promotes engagement and shared decision-making between researchers and participants. Making reference to her research drawing on constructivist grounded theory and comparing arts and music to psychotherapy in order to gain a deeper understanding of ‘presence’ in therapy, Nicola shares examples of engaging in co-produced research as turbulent, challenging and illuminating. She expands on how co-production research partners are committed to ‘hermeneutic justice’ (Fricker, 2007) in which different ways of understanding are considered to be of equal value – especially in areas where some actors have been previously silenced (Blunden & Calder, 2020).


Mixed methods for Exploratory research. 


Dr Sally Cook and Dr Louise Rolland consider mixed methods research in action, discussing the different ways in which they have investigated the experiences of multilingual clients in psychotherapy. The researchers come to the psychotherapeutic context as applied linguists specialising in multilingualism. Both focus on the client’s perspective and on research conducted under sensitive circumstance. Dr Sally Cook describes her research with survivors of torture. She adopted a qualitative mixed-methods approach combining Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith, 1996) and ethnography to explore the meaning survivors of torture ascribe to using a second language in their healing journey. Dr Louise Rolland explains how combining a web survey with interviews enabled her to unpack the initial, quantitative findings regarding multilingual clients’ language use, revealing rich associations between languages, emotions and identity


Reflexive Thematic Analysis. 


Dr Nikki Hayfield expands on her chapter in Enjoying Research in Psychotherapy (book 2, in process) written with Braun and Clarke. She also refers to her recently co-edited book in the APA Essentials of Qualitative Methods series about thematic analysis, which offers exciting opportunities to gather in-depth qualitative data and to develop rich and useful findings. Dr Nikki Hayfield explains the concept of reflexive thematic analysis as a method of analysing interview and focus group transcripts, qualitative survey responses and other qualitative data. Central to this method is the recognition that we are all situated in a particular context, and that we see and speak from that position. This leads researchers to produce knowledge that represents situated truths and provides insights into people’s perspectives on a given topic.


Dr Alistair McBeath offers two seminars:

Mixed methods research: The case for the pragmatic researcher. This seminar expands on mixed methods research as an innovative and progressive approach to research in counselling and psychotherapy. The historic debate that has cast quantitative and qualitative research as competing and incompatible approaches is rejected in favour of a focus on a what-works-best approach to researching any particular phenomenon. There is a consideration of pragmatism’s advantages as the philosophical underpinning of mixed methods approaches to research and examples of specific mixed methods designs are also discussed. Dr Alistair McBeath’s chapter concludes that mixed methods research provides a depth and diversity of data that confirms quantitative and qualitative research approaches are complementary rather than competing means of progressing research. 

Doing surveys creatively. Dr Alistair McBeath presents some progressive and advanced ways to utilise the power of online surveys in counselling and psychotherapy research. He opens by emphasising the considerable advantages of mixing both quantitative and qualitative questions within online surveys. There are examples of using skip logic to make surveys creative and sophisticated research tools. Attention is also focused on two sometimes-neglected areas of online surveys, namely, the presentation of findings and the marketing and publicising of surveys. Used effectively, online surveys can be a powerful and inclusive approach to collecting data within counselling and psychotherapy.


Doing randomised control trial (RCT) research creatively. 



Dr Peter Pearce demonstrates the use of RCT to test the effectiveness of schoolbased humanistic counselling (SBHC) in an ethnically diverse group of young people (aged 11-18 years old). The seminar builds on Dr Peter Pearce’s chapter in Enjoying Research (book 2, in process) and makes reference to his field research with colleagues Sewell, Cooper, Osman, Fugard and Pybis (2017).

‘Enjoying Research’: Personal and professional development

This ‘Enjoying Research’ conference invites you to consider your own professional practice with a potential research question and literature review in mind. It also encourages you to take research ‘one step further’ and engage in methodological innovation with significant concepts such as diversity and mental health in mind.

Innovative research methods to bridge the gap between arts and science

‘Enjoying Research’ builds on a creative tension for psychotherapists working ‘between’ the disciplines of art and science, which makes discussions about ‘good evidence’ both complex and exciting. For instance, whilst the NICE guidelines prioritise ‘evidence-based’ approaches looking for certainties and for commonly held ‘truths’ in therapy, the postmodern-inspired constructivist and social constructionist frameworks emphasise experience-based knowledge with unique biographies, socio-cultural, linguistic, gender related and other context-dependent interests in mind. Both viewpoints bring a refreshingly demystifying approach to traditional therapy, arguing for transparency and accountability – albeit from contrasting angles.

Pragmatism and dialectical engagement

The Enjoying Research books approach research with ‘pragmatism’ and ‘dialectical engagement’ in mind. Pragmatism highlights the usefulness of drawing from methods that can combine both deep and broad understandings. Dr McBeath and other speakers expand on how different types of data reveal different vantage points to the experiences of therapists or clients, with both sets of data being powerful in their own rights but for different reasons. Quantitative data comes from surveys with large enough samples to support confidence that significant findings can apply to the profession as a whole. The qualitative data provides participants with a powerful voice to convey their lived experience in an authentic and meaningful way. Pragmatism highlights how different questions call for different approaches, no approach is a given or should justify a higher status than the other. 

We also use the term ‘dialectical engagement’ to negotiate combinations of the different approaches, acknowledging that traditions and disciplinary hierarchy can nevertheless impact methodological options and choices. Dialectical engagement emphasises openness to learning through the interplay between different perspectives. This type of ‘bridging’ mixed methods invites researchers, who may be trained in just one method, to step out of their comfort zone and think beyond their usually implemented methods. Each approach brings a different paradigmatic viewpoint, leading to varying ontological and epistemologically anchored questions about mental health and ‘reality’. Following this thread, the Enjoying Research books approach mixed methods as opportunities to bridge and combine perspectives on mental health and emotional well-being.

The seminars at the Research Academy offer different perspectives on this.

Speaker Biographies (click for more info)