MA Psychotherapy Student Research Conference

  • 14.00 - 17.00
  • 27 May 2021
MA Psychotherapy Student Research Conference
Leeds Beckett's Psychological Therapies team invite you to attend an online showcase of research produced by our students on the MA Psychotherapy degree.

Five students will present their research on topics ranging from psychotherapy with face masks, to supporting those with trauma. Each presentation will be followed by an opportunity for questions and comments. We look forward to welcoming you.

Please contact course leader Dr John Hills ( to confirm your attendance and you'll receive joining instructions.


Therapists Facing Masks: A Qualitative Study of The Nature of Relationships Between Masks and Relational Depth. 

Masks are recommended as a public health measure to decrease airborne transmission of COVID-19. Due to socio-cultural impacts of masks on client/patient care, this study is timely to explore relationships between masks and relational depth within therapy sessions.  

Central to research is exploring characteristics which facilitate and/or inhibit meetings at relational depth. An original contribution to relational depth knowledge is aimed at through exploring characteristics associated to meetings at relational depth. Exploring masks as a characteristic. 
Method: Empirical data gathered from semi-structured interviews with four therapists who have experienced using masks within sessions. Interpretative phenomenological analysis to develop narratives of meaningful information, insights on perceptions and practice. Questions engaged deeply with participants about general experience of masks in sessions before exploring experiences of relational depth with clients wearing masks. 
Bridging theoretical knowledge through an in-depth examination of this phenomena has potential to deepen understanding of characteristics influencing relational depth. Thereby gaining insights on how clinicians may increase possibilities of meeting in relational depth encounters. Also give voice to individuals impacted by mask wearing in therapeutic relationships, alternate healthcare settings and in society.  


An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) study of counsellors’ experiences of working with bereaved clients’ reports of End of Life Phenomena


Research literature has highlighted unusual phenomena occurring at the end of life that includes death-bed visions, death-bed coincidences and after-death communication, collectively referred to as ‘End-of-Life phenomena’.  The literature also highlights how common these experiences are, yet there have been no studies on the experience of counsellors when bereaved clients disclose this type of experience. The aim of this study is therefore to investigate:

  • The personal impact on the counsellor of working with this type of experience.
  • How counsellors respond to a client’s disclosure of experiencing End-of-Life phenomena.

This is a qualitative study using semi-structured interviews. Four counsellors who have worked with a bereaved client’s disclosure of experiencing End-of-Life phenomena were interviewed. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was used as an in-depth method to analyse the interview transcripts. 

Three master themes have been identified:

  • Counsellor training in End-of-Life phenomena (subthemes: the need for training, quality of training, the role of supervision and peer support).
  • The personal impact of working with End-of-Life phenomena (subthemes: gratitude, becoming open-minded, religion versus spirituality, views of clients’ experiences).
  • Approaches to counselling practice (subthemes: normalisation of client experiences, the therapeutic process, client disclosure, the counselling framework).

Preliminary analysis shows counsellors feel training about End-Of-Life phenomena should be embedded within counselling courses or available at CPD level. Working with End-of-Life experiences has had a positive impact on counsellors by allowing them to reflect on their own position on end-of-life phenomena. End-of-Life experiences have a positive impact for a bereaved client, although clients may initially be hesitant disclosing their experience for fear of it being pathologised.

Therapist’s insights into the use and efficacy of Dr. Muss’ Rewind Technique when supporting clients suffering from the effects of trauma.

The Rewind Technique may offer relief for people suffering with the effects of trauma and PTSD within as little as two 1-hour sessions. For the therapist, the technique is quick to learn and inexpensive to train in and the client doesn’t need to talk about their trauma. I am a counsellor for the police force and this technique seemed to offer a solution when working with traumatised clients effectively in time limited work.
Interviewing four experienced therapists, I am using a semi structured method to explore their experiences of using the Rewind technique with clients. Using an investigative phenomenological analysis, I am scrutinising the language used and insights gained by experienced therapists who have used the technique on at least five occasions.

The study includes a detailed exploration into the historical development of Rewind, including it's foundations in Neuro Linguistic Programming. At present CBT and EMDR are recommended by the NHS for the treatment of PTSD and other trauma related issues, this study will briefly compare these methods with Rewind. So far, there have been several studies exploring the efficacy of Rewind, but the insights of the therapists using the technique so far is under researched. Not anymore!


Qualitative Meta-Analysis of Relational Depth

What is the one concept that can trace its providence to the father of Person-Centred Psychotherapy? Is measurably fundamental to a therapeutic relationship?  Is experienced simultaneously by both parties in the therapeutic connection?  The answer is ...Relational Depth.
Relational Depth is defined as “a state of profound contact and engagement with a client” within a therapeutic setting (Mearns & Cooper, 2005).  It is present in a quarter of significant events in the Client’s therapy (Wiggins, Elliott, & Cooper, 2012). It overlaps half of the time experientially within the relationship between the Client and the Therapist (Cooper, 2017).
Relational Depth is an exciting concept, reflecting the different vantage points of the originators.
One having approached it from the vantage point of Rogerian core conditions intending to enable the provision of quality relationships within counselling; whilst the other has approached it from a phenomenological and philosophical standpoint, looking at the moment of dialogue – specifically the “moment of meeting” (Cooper, 2011).

The research method being followed is Qualitative Meta-Analysis, which has only recently started to appear in psychotherapy research and is still relatively rare within psychology (Levitt, 2018).

Qualitative Meta-Analysis aggregates and distils the research findings of a general research topic into a single concise research paper.  By examining several qualitative research studies and focusing on their conclusions, commonality can be unearthed whilst retaining the original context (Timulak, 2009).

Qualitative Meta-Analysis sets out to develop knowledge by building, explaining, and developing theory through aggregation.  It helps create more abstract ideas with richer detail and a broader view of the studied domain (Timulak, 2009). It should result in new novel interpretations of findings that primary research did not identify (Finfgeld-Connett, 2018).

Accordingly, join me to explore the provisional findings unearthed from a relatively new research method in psychotherapy of a foundational concept to all therapeutic relationships.


“Don’t Feel” Inside the body of a child a war is emerging…. An Autoethnography of Survival to Connection 

When I supress my feelings what happens to my physical and mental health?

“Traumatized people are terrified to feel deeply. They are afraid to experience their emotions, because emotions lead to loss of control.” Bessel A. van der Kolk (2015).

As mental health issues rise, and many suggest talk works, this study looks at the researcher's life and experiences with mental health and the problems that arise when a full range of feelings are not allowed.

Learning at an early age that it wasn't safe to use a full range of emotions, alternative coping mechanisms were found, such as dissociation, escapism, or feeling unwell. 

In addition, during her early working life within the mental health system, she witnessed many patients who appeared to have shut down emotions for fear of the consequences. She observed how people held the pain in their bodies, often hunched, bowel and tummy issues appeared common, often using self-harm to feel.
This prompted her to reflect on her own body, the aches, pains, psychosomatic issues, anxiety, panic, shame, and general health. Externally to the world, she presented as fine. Internally a war emerged as her child ego state battled with the ghosts and messages of the past. Always on the alert, always ready!

The researcher analyses her personal experience of ‘the body’ investigating what happens when we deny our true feelings and perhaps confuse our autonomic nervous system. She curiously asks if we feel safe, can both our physical and mental health improve? In addition, the research reviews what works and how understanding our bodies messages can significantly improve outcomes to health.  


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