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York St John Communities Centre Research

Our research explores current issues in mental health including bereavement, domestic and partner abuse and anger management.

Current research

Below is a list of research currently being conducted by staff and students connected to the Centre and York St John University.

Counselling, Disability and Research Methods of Working with Ones Own Clients

Lead researcher: Richard Knight

Richard's current research explores the client's experience of working with a disabled counsellor in chronic pain and seeks to investigate the impact disability has on both the therapeutic relationship and the counselling process. While also examining the impact of dual relationships on research as acting as both counsellor and researcher.

His PhD looks at furthering this initial Masters research, in looking deeper at the concept of the wounded healer. Specifically, when the wounded healer is physically wounded by means of physical disability and chronic pain. This looks beneath these factors and explores motivations, implications, ethical issues, considerations for practice and existential issues by means of a qualitative autoethnography and IPA of semi structured interviews research design, which went on to allow clients to collaborate and co-produce the research.

This will also further explore personal efficacy and seek to clarify whether previously cautiously offered suppositions are correct in that clients prefer to work with disabled counsellors by analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data. This will be further considered by evaluating the attitudes / opinions of colleagues in the field. This he hopes will both allow further development of his professional practice and substantially contribute to the research field of an area that has limited literature. His research has entered the data analysis phase following a rich and bountiful gathering of data that he is very much thankful to their clients that consented to take part.

He hopes through his congruent, lived experience to motivate and encourage others to develop their own ways of being to provide purpose / development and thus benefit to self, others and bring further diversity to the profession. Richard is also active with a number of external agencies facilitating accessibility and furthering psychotherapy research.

Domestic Violence and Abuse

Lead researcher: Lynne Gabriel

Working with TRaCCs members, we are developing a project on domestic violence and abuse (DVA).

The key focus will be on reviewing the effectiveness of a self-protection intervention for victims of abuse and on examining the impact of specialist training for DVA practitioners.

Advocating for Breastfeeding Peer Supporters in York

Lead researcher: Dr Paige E Davis

Dr Paige E Davis's research linked to the Parent Centre relates to supporting breastfeeding and the transition to parenthood.

Together with Treasure Chest York, a local breastfeeding charity, Paige plans to launch a CPD module at the centre that teaches both members of York's community as well as parents that have breastfed themselves and would like to volunteer for Treasure Chest peer support groups.

Paige is also interested in why parents come to and return, week after week to breastfeeding groups. She wants to improve the experiences of parents in hopes of improving child outcomes.

Professor Abi Curtis and Paige piloted a creative writing intervention, Penning Parenthood. This intervention was run for new parents in June 2022. This intervention used creativity and imagination to help parents unpack their experiences of birth, breastfeeding, and parenthood. The members of the pilot group reported that the writing exercises were useful and thus will be running further smaller versions of Penning Parenthood.

Online Therapy

Lead researcher: Lynne Gabriel

Working in collaboration with the Training, Research and Counselling Clinic Consortium (TRaCCs), Lynne and the Centre have been involved in projects exploring experiences and perceptions of therapy delivered through online video platforms such as Zoom.

The research team have already published a perspectives paper on online therapy and recently submitted a systematic review for peer review and publication. The next project will involve in-depth research on client experiences of receiving online counselling.

Reviewing and Researching Practice and Research Ethics

Lead Researcher: Lynne Gabriel

Lynne is working with the Centre's Advisory Board Chair, Professor Andrew Reeves, on a commissioned series for Routledge, Ethics in Action. The series will provide evidence-based and pragmatic resources for people working within counselling, psychotherapy, counselling psychology and mental health.

Bereavement Support

Lead researcher: Dr John Wilson

Dr John Wilson and Lynne Gabriel are working with and Centre colleagues to explore the value of online bereavement support groups.

Early indications suggest that facilitated peer support groups offer a valued and effective way of supporting people through loss and grief. Lynne and John are in the process of preparing a research paper for publication. The bereavement group commencing in September 2022 will explore the impact of longer-term group support for bereaved people.

PhD research

Below is a list of research currently being conducted by our PhD students at York St John University.

Connecting Our City

Lead researcher: Samantha Jayne Goddard

Samantha's PhD research began in July 2022 and explores York's innovative Connecting Our City mental health transformation project.

The key aim of the Connecting Our City project is to develop a whole-community approach to mental health and wellbeing. Samantha is researching non-pathologising approaches to mental health care which move away from a medical model to a community based, strengths focused approach - as well as the importance of coproduction and active citizenship in community mental health. This research has a strong focus on inclusion and collaboration with individuals with lived experiences of mental ill health. Specific areas of inquiry involve current theoretical approaches to community mental health care in England, the Trieste mental health care model, community mental health hubs, and the challenges and opportunities created for both frontline staff and those accessing mental health support during cultural shifts in service design and delivery.

Samantha plans to bring her background as an art psychotherapist and artist practitioner into her research by considering alternative research outputs and using creative research methodologies as part of her data generation. She hopes to capture the voices of people often left out of research and service transformation by exploring different ways of understanding the complex systems involved in mental health service design and delivery.

Samantha has a background as an artist and art psychotherapist, as well as having worked in health, mental health and wellbeing across the VCSE sector, within the NHS, and with the local authority in York over the past decade. Her master's research explored the history, controversies and current treatment of medically unexplained symptoms in the UK, and the potential for exploring the mind/body diagnostic divide with creative approaches and art psychotherapy. Her artistic practice uses photography and found objects to explore identity and trauma, family, and mental health/medical history.

Samantha can be contacted at, and is on Twitter and LinkedIn: @SamJayneGoddard.

Routine Outcome Measures

Lead researcher: David Sanmartino

As the mental health field is moving towards person-centred care, capturing the voices, preferences and perspectives of clients is crucial. Professional services in clinical practice and some non-clinical approaches to counselling and psychotherapy use Routine Outcome Measures (ROMs) and for different purposes.

ROMs can be used in multiple ways, from collecting data, supporting evidence-based treatments, informing policies, benefiting some approaches upon others to enhancing the therapeutic relationship, evaluating goals and treatments, opening meaningful conversations between therapists and clients, and many more. However, like many things in life, using ROMs in counselling and psychotherapy brings controversy, many questions, and new horizons to explore.

Although the use of ROMs in counselling and psychotherapy is not new, the use of ideographic measures to explore domains of therapy that can be meaningful for clients is still in its early days. Ideographic measures focused on the individual and unique experience of clients exploring domains that are relevant to them therefore can be relevant to inform practice and policies in the mental health field. On the other hand, nomothetic measures are standardized questionnaires that measure patients self-reported experiences in universal indicators. Both types of measures come with advantages and limitations so having client’s opinion and perspective about their experiences using them is a must.

I work under the lenses of Pluralism and Metamodernism in which there is not a single truth or reality, but many ways of doing and being that are equally valid. Pluralism focuses on respecting and promoting the uniqueness of human beings, which makes us richer collectively. It is based on collaboration and metacommunication and encourages the use of knowledge individuals' possess about the world, themselves and their cultural resources. When it comes to therapy, Pluralism puts clients at the centre of everything working towards their goals and preferences.

From a Pluralistic perspective, I would like this PhD to contribute to exploring how helpful and meaningful ideographic measures can be for clients and therapists. Additionally, the project will explore how ideographic measures can help to inform counselling and psychotherapy practice, putting the client's voice at the centre.

In this first face of the PhD, I am reading literature and 'playing around' creatively with different concepts, identifying gaps in the literature and understanding different dimensions of using ROMs in the mental health field.

As a great addition to my PhD, I am starting a fellow teaching position with Abertay University in Scotland. Also, I continue practising counselling with very few clients in private practice. Both activities perfectly complement my doctoral program, and I am dedicating to them one day and a half of the week to ensure that they are adding and not interfering with my PhD.

I am genuinely grateful to York St John University for this PhD position as I feel valued and supported as an individual within a thriving and vibrant community.

Gathering Stories about Covid-Impacted Loss

Lead Researcher: Limor Augustin

I am Limor. I live and work in Yorkshire in the North of England. I'm a mother, a woman of colour, a full time PhD student and an educator. I am also a bereaved person; I have experienced loss before COVID and loss during lockdown and I recognise the impact that the pandemic and restrictions has had on bereaved people making sense of loss. I started my PhD in 2021 and the focus of my research is on how COVID impacted grief has been experienced by people from black Caribbean and black African communities. My research focuses on the experiences of black Caribbean and black African people because of the impact COVID has had on black communities who have had to deal with higher levels of losses in addition to existing inequalities and traumas.

Why stories?

As a bereaved person, I understand that some aspects of grief cannot be understood or quantified without time and space to experience, communicate and reflect.

Because stories hold great significance for me personally and are valued by people from many black communities I have centred my PhD work around using stories to understand the experience of loss that has been impacted by COVID.

Inviting someone to speak on their own terms and holding space to listen sets aside the idea that I should know what questions to ask or what there is to be learned from the experiences of bereaved people. When we tell stories we share our own understanding of the world and how it works, the lessons we have been taught and aspects of our cultures. Stories are rich and evoke emotions and memories and telling stories about our loved ones honours their memory and helps us understand our own experiences of losing them.


I am committed to learning about and implementing decolonisation and anti-racism work in teaching and research and I am undergoing a personal process of learning and unlearning previous ideas about what research should be and how we can know and understand our own and others experiences.

My work is designed to serve underrepresented communities and contribute to social justice outcomes. I understand that some individuals and groups have been over researched and had their time, labour and ideas appropriated and exploited by academic and research practices. I am working to avoid these practices. To listen, to adapt when needed and to use my time and resources positively and in service of communities that have been failed in the past.

Sharing your story

I have been given ethical approval to begin gathering stories for my project. I am currently looking for 3-5 people from black African or black Caribbean communities who:

  • –Have experienced a loss that is significant to them
  • Would be willing to talk to me on a couple of occasions about their experience and how they have made sense of their experience.

We don't fully understand yet how COVID has impacted grief and it is important that as we come to a better understanding of the experience of COVID impacted grief, that emerging stories are representative of the people who experienced grief in this way.

Please get in touch with me if you have any questions or are interested in being involved with this work. I am happy to explain in more detail and there is no expectations on those who make contact.

Connecting for common goals

I am actively building a network of peers who are doing decolonial work and research, are interested or invested in COVID grief research or just want to follow the progress of this project.

Please get in touch if you would like to connect. I want to hear about your work and interests and appreciate your thoughts and reflections on mine. It is an ethical commitment for me to be open to and engage with reflexive practices and to listen to and address feedback from the communities my work aims to serve.

Publications and research outputs

Explore work from researchers at York St John Communities Centre, and York St John University.

Published articles

View an up-to-date list of articles from Professor Lynne Gabriel on the York St John University repository, RaY.

Lynne's work on RaY


Gabriel, Lynne (2015) Ethics in pluralistic counselling and psychotherapy. In: Cooper, Mick and Dryden, Windy, (eds.) The Handbook of Pluralistic Counselling and Psychotherapy. London, Sage, pp. 300-313.

Gabriel, Lynne and Casemore, Roger, eds. (2009) Relational Ethics in Practice: Narratives from Counselling and Psychotherapy. Routledge.

Gabriel, Lynne (2005) The challenge of working in a multi-tasked job. In: Information Services Editorial Board, BACP, (ed.) Talking therapies: an essential anthology. British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, pp. 93-99.

Gabriel, Lynne (2005) Speaking the unspeakable: the ethics of dual relationships in counselling and psychotherapy. Routledge.


Gabriel, Lynne and James, Hazel (2016) York St John Counselling and Mental Health Clinic. Documentation. York St John. (Unpublished)

Conferences and workshops

Gabriel, Lynne and Wilson, John (2017) Researching One's Own Clients: Rich Data from an Ethical Minefield. In: BACP International Research Conference, 11-12 May 2018, University of Roehampton. (Unpublished)

Roddy, Jeannette and Gabriel, Lynne (2017) Building a competency framework for domestic abuse counselling practice. In: British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy Research Conference 2017 (18th-19th May) Chester, UK., May 2017, Chester University. (Unpublished)

Donachie, Tracy , Hill, Andrew P. , Hall, Howard and Gabriel, Lynne (2016) The relationship between perfectionism, perfectionistic cognitions, and pre-match emotions in adolescent footballers. In: British Society for Personality and Individual Differences Annual Conference 2016, 8 April 2016, Nottingham Trent University. (Unpublished)

Wilson, John, Gabriel, Lynne and James, Hazel (2016) Meaning-making in bereavement counselling: clients' assimilation of grief experiences. In: British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy Research Conference 2016, 19-20th May 2016, Brighton. (Unpublished)

Donachie, Tracy , Hall, Howard, Hill, Andrew P. and Gabriel, Lynne (2015) Perfectionism and perfectionistic cognitions in footballers. In: World Congress on Science and Football, 20-23 May 2015, Copenhagen, Denmark. (Unpublished)


Gabriel, Lynne (2013) Working with Dilemmas in Dual Relationships. [Video] (Unpublished)

Gabriel, Lynne (2018) Professorial Inaugural. Professor Gabriel. (Unpublished)

Published articles

View an up-to-date list of articles from Professor Divine Charura on the York St John University repository, RaY.

Divine's work on RaY


Charura, Divine (2018) Child Development and Attachment. In: Robson, M. and Pattison, S., (eds.) The Handbook of Counselling Children & Young People. 2nd ed. Sage, pp. 3-26

Nicholson, P.E., P. E., Charura, Divine and Charlesworth, B. (2018) Counselling Children and Young People with Mental Illness - A Relational approach. In: Robson, M. and Pattison, S., (eds.) The Handbook of Counselling Children & Young People. 2nd ed. Sage, pp. 306-321

Charura, Divine, Pattison, S. and McAndrew, T. (2018) Inclusion: Working with difference. In: Robson, M. and Pattison, S., (eds.) The Handbook of Counselling Children & Young People. Sage, pp. 396-412

Lago, Colin and Charura, Divine, eds. (2016) The Person-Centred Counselling and Psychotherapy Handbook Origins, Developments and Contemporary Practice. Open University Press

Charura, Divine and Paul, Stephen, eds. (2015) Love and Therapy: In Relationship. Karnac Penson, William J., Hill, Darren and Charura, Divine (2015) Working with Dual Diagnosis: A Psychosocial Perspective. Foundations of Mental Health Practice . Palgrave MacMillan

Paul, Stephen and Charura, Divine (2014) An Introduction to the Therapeutic Relationship in Counselling and Psychotherapy. Sage

Charura, Divine and Paul, Stephen (2014) The Therapeutic Relationship Handbook: Theory & Practice. Sage

Conferences and workshops

Allan, J, Williams, G, Charura, Divine, Cohen, E, Meth, F, Shaw, M and Taylor, S (2017) The Asylum-Seeker and Refugee Experience - An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of Interview Data Elicited Through the Use of Artefacts. In: European Community Psychology Association, 10th European Congress, Reflections and Challenges, Community Psychology in the European Context, 18 October 2017 - 20 October 2017, Newcastle, UK.

Allan, J and Charura, Divine (2017) Spiritual development, meaning making, resilience and potential for post-traumatic growth among asylum-seekers and refugees: An interpretative phenomenological analysis. In: Qualitative Methods in Psychology Section Biennial Conference, The British Psychological Society, 5 July 2017 - 7 July 2017, Aberystwyth University.

Smith, A, Charura, Divine and Nicholson, P (2017) In search of excellence, sharing our experiences of inspirational teaching. In: Teaching Excellence: Building Bridges ANTF Open Conference, 10 May 2017.


SPTI Research Showcase (2021) (YouTube)

Research Short on 'Love and Compassion' (2020) (YouTube)

Black Identities + White Therapies: Divine Charura and Colin Lago discuss their book (2021) (YouTube)

How to build a loving relationship with yourself (2020) (YouTube)

What to do when a client declares their love for their therapist - Divine Charura & Stephen Paul (2016) (YouTube)

Published articles

View an up-to-date list of articles from Dr Trish Hobman on the York St John University repository, RaY.

Trish's work on RaY

Published articles

View an up-to-date list of articles from Dr John Wilson on the York St John University repository, RaY.

John's work on RaY

Conferences and workshops

Conference Appearance - Lynne Gabriel, John Wilson Shannon Evans, Jordan Hall & Limor Augustin. Justice and Juxtaposition: A Facebook Group for People Bereaved by and During Covid-19. Presentation to the BACP Research Conference, Hosted by the University of Abertay, Dundee, 19 May 2022.

Gabriel, Lynne and Wilson, John (2017) Researching One’s Own Clients: Rich Data from an Ethical Minefield. In: BACP International Research Conference, 11-12 May 2018, University of Roehampton. (Unpublished)

Wilson, John, Gabriel, Lynne and James, Hazel (2016) Meaning-making in bereavement counselling: clients’ assimilation of grief experiences. In: British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy Research Conference 2016, 19-20th May 2016, Brighton. (Unpublished)


Interview with Press Association, 2021: Duke of Edinburgh: How families can still make the most of a smaller funeral (The Independent)

Published articles

View an up-to-date list of articles from Professor Lynne Gabriel on the York St John University repository, RaY.

Penn's work on RaY

Published articles

View an up-to-date list of articles from Dr Gary Shepherd on the York St John University repository, RaY.

Gary's work on RaY

Conferences and workshops

Shepherd, Gary (2019) Do therapists ever get lonely? In: Alone Together Symposium, 10th-12th April 2019, York St John University.


Dr Gary Shepherd discusses his research in participants reflections during anger management programmes. (YouTube)

Published articles

View an up-to-date list of articles from Andrew Pendle on the York St John University repository, RaY.

Andrew's work on RaY

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