Centre background

Below are the main areas of research, including recent examples of research projects.

  • The therapeutic relationship
  • Sexuality, sex, sexual attraction
  • Sexual bullying and harassment
  • Student experience

The therapeutic relationship

Projects include:

  • Psychoanalytic and phenomenological psychotherapists’ perception, understanding and interpretation of what is therapeutic in the psychotherapeutic encounter
  • Psychodynamic and cognitive behavioural conceptualisations of medically unexplained symptoms
  • The integrative attitude; researching psychotherapy integration: a heuristic approach
  • How psychotherapists experience and manage work with different client groups

Sexuality, sex, sexual attraction

Our research investigates perceptions of sexuality, the impact of being rejected due to sexual orientation and how therapists work with sexual issues and therapy dynamics.

Projects include:

  • Migrant Brazilian homosexuals living in London, implications for sexual identity
  • Asexuality – the lived experience of self-identifying asexual people; sexual compulsivity
  • Contemporary perspectives on psychotherapy and homosexualities
    The experiences of trainee counselling psychologists on the area of sexuality as a taught aspect of training
  • How trainee therapists handle sexual attraction in therapy
    Supervisors’ handling of sexual attraction in the work of therapists they supervise.

Sexual bullying and harrassment

Some projects include:

  • Sexual bullying and harassment among university students
  • Bullying among university students

Other Centre activities

The Centre runs events such as conferences, seminars and short courses, and research training. A key event is the annual conference.

All members of staff are clinicians as well as scholars, and strong links are maintained with the local NHS and other clinical services, institutions and centres of excellence.


Study support

The PCPR Research Centre offers a lively and friendly learning environment and the School’s taught programmes consistently achieve excellent student ratings.

  • Research students are supported by established scholars in the area of their research
  • The wide variety of cultural, professional and educational backgrounds of our students enriches the learning environment
  • The Centre offers research students the opportunity to receive mentoring, supervision and coaching within existing Research Centre activities
  • The university library is well stocked with books, journals, electronic resources and major archives relevant to the Centre's work
  • The university’s Postgraduate Centre provides the space and technology for student research and work

Regent’s School of Psychotherapy & Psychology (RSPP)

Research within RSPP has mainly taken place with staff developing independent research interests and publishing articles and book chapters.  This often also comes together in collaborative efforts contributing chapters in edited books or special issues of the Centre’s journal.

The benefits of these type of research activities are evidenced in publications where various, often diverse, theoretical and philosophical perspectives are applied to the understanding of psychotherapy and counselling psychology practice. Such pluralism supports the School’s integrative ethos.

Phenomenology and existentialism

Phenomenology and existentialism underpin RSPP’s research ethos as perspectives that embrace not just the psychological, but social dimensions of what it is to be human. The School’s reputation developed as a result of this unique stance to research and scholarly activity.

Scholarly activities in the form of conferences, seminar and workshops offer opportunities for the professional members, alumni, students and staff to gain continuous professional development, and positively contribute to the sharing of ideas and knowledge in the field.

My experience as a research student - Elisavet Tapini CPsychol, MBACP

I always considered myself to be research oriented and the years I trained at Regent’s provided me with the opportunity to develop my research potential.  I registered on the MA Counselling Psychology, which then led to Chartered status with the British Psychological Society. Now it is only doctorate-level training that leads to chartered status. Training as a counselling psychologist consists of many diverse and demanding tasks.

Doing research is one of them which, if I may say, is frequently not talked about. Trainee students are absorbed with accumulating placement hours, coping with assignments, dealing with their own issues in therapy and with foreseeing the ‘exit’ of a lengthy training. Doing research can be quite isolating as it usually takes place at the end of the training and does not involve much interaction with others.  It is an introspective process, a dialogue with oneself - an experience to grow with.

Having always been research oriented, I can truly say that researching for my dissertation was one of the most enjoyable (yet stressful) parts of my training as a counselling psychologist.  Accepting challenge is part of my character and I find true satisfaction in achieving difficult but rewarding tasks.  Completing my dissertation in a stimulating environment such as that of Regent’s was such a task.

Even before starting my Masters, I had developed an interest in sociology and philosophy, something that affected my future choices. Choosing to train at Regent’s provided me with strong philosophical foundations and a good understanding of qualitative methods.

Qualitative research

I received extensive training in qualitative research at Regent’s and researched the psychology of skilled migration and its relevance to clinical practice. Common to qualitative research, this study emerged out of personal interest, being a voluntary expatriate myself.

My research interests were always in the broader field of cross-cultural psychology and clinical practice, as this is part of my own personal and professional identity. When doing qualitative research, this is important as there is no way of being truly reflexive if one is not interested in the subject matter.  As so many of my classmates were researching the therapist’s experience I found it more challenging to do something different.  I considered the other end of the spectrum - not a clinical trial, but researching a social group whose members could be potential clients.

My ‘Migrant Self’

My ‘migrant self’ had been a therapy client before becoming a practitioner. And I remembered the frustration of having to explain something twice, the untranslatable Greek expressions hanging in the therapy room, my fear of offending my therapist if I did not like things in his country.  And I recalled how liberating it was, at other times, doing therapy in a different language, of freeing myself from my Greek ‘shoulds’. Suddenly I had a trigger for research.

Skilled migrants, for whom issues of identity and belonging are part of everyday experience was such a group of potential clients. Apart from making a unique contribution in my field, I wanted to do research on something that was widely applicable, not just to psychotherapy but to the human condition in a cosmopolitan world.

The diversity of research interests of RSPP staff allowed me to do that. Even before choosing my topic, the pluralistic attitude of the School was evident in lectures, seminars and conferences and the willingness of staff members to discuss ideas.

Writing this piece reminded me of things I had forgotten; how open lecturers were to essay topics in my early stages of training, the availability of staff members for informal chats, and the abundance of information offered, whether in reading lists or via the online notice boards. It was an environment that allowed me to find a research topic that spoke truly to my heart, and I was given the freedom to think outside the box.

 Support and guidance

There was support and guidance but also challenge from my supervisor. The ethos of the School was reflected in this, as I felt approached as a colleague rather than a student.  This deepened my passion for what I was doing. I received support not only during meetings but also via e-mails and detailed feedback. I was encouraged to develop my own methodology, a combination of different phenomenological methods, which made me feel that this is my project, my creation.  Of course I had to stay open to feedback and suggestions but feeling respect and trust in my abilities made the whole research journey one to remember.

Apart from the research methods seminars I attended, it was the philosophical and non-dogmatic stance of the School that facilitated my thinking. In my training, and more so in my research supervision, it was important that I felt I had the independence and the support to challenge my own thinking and explore new ideas.

Critical thinking, curiosity and challenge

I already had a passion for research and my experience as a research student at RSPP just nourished this further. Critical thinking, curiosity and challenge encouraged me to apply for external funding and continue my research after completing my Master’s degree.  I received a full PhD studentship with the University of Brighton and I am currently expanding my research. I have already submitted an article co-authored with my supervisor, based on my MA research, and I am working on another one specific to my integrated phenomenological method.

I now teach at the RSPP on all their postgraduate programmes and I feel my potential is developing. It is extremely challenging at times, juggling with PhD research, teaching and private practice but, as I said, challenge matches my character.  The experience of a research student with RSPP made this response to challenge a personal and professional identity trait that yet continues.    

More about the PCPR

Journal of Psychotherapy & Counselling Psychology Reflections (JPCPR)

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