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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.

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 an Open University led project exploring client experiences and perceptions of therapy delivered through online video platforms. Members of the research, including Lynne, have already published a perspectives paper on online therapy.

Relational Ethics in Counselling and Psychotherapy

Lead Researcher: Lynne Gabriel

Ethics in the counselling professions has formed the basis of Lynne’s work. Beginning with early dual relationships research for her doctorate, since then she has published 2 textbooks on ethics in practice and chaired or been a member of, numerous committees on research and on ethics. Lynne brings her ethics knowledge, experience, and research to her support and role in the latest review of the BACP Ethical Framework. Lynne developed an ethics guidance document for BACP (GPiA044) which has been used globally as an accessible resource for ethical practice.

Lynne is currently working with the Chair of the Communities Centre's Advisory Board, Professor Andrew Reeves, on a commissioned series for Routledge, Ethics in Action. This exciting new series will provide evidence-based and pragmatic resources for people working with day-to-day ethics within the counselling, psychotherapy, counselling psychology and mental health professions and in preparation are titles on ethics in practitioner training, co-production in counselling work, and working in private practice. Lynne was lead author for the series header book Navigating Relational Ethics in Day-to-Day Practice (Gabriel and Reeves, 2024, in press). At the core of the book is an ethics research project involving research conversations with ethics leads and expert practitioners from the counselling professions.

Bereavement Support

Lead researcher: Dr John Wilson

Early indications suggest that facilitated peer support groups offer a valued and effective way of supporting people through loss and grief. Lynne works with Dr John Wilson, the Centre’s Director of Bereavement Services, to deliver online bereavement groups and associated research. Lynne and John regularly present at UK/International conferences. They are in the process of preparing a paper on the design, delivery, and investigation of bereavement groups, for publication in a research journal.

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 explores York's innovative Connecting Our City mental health transformation project, and specifically the experiences of a diverse group of stakeholders who are attempting to establish a multi disciplinary community mental health hub model inspired by the Trieste mental health hub model in Italy.

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. 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 HCPC registered 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 You can read more about her work on her website and connect via X (formerly known as Twitter) and LinkedIn by searching @SamJayneGoddard.

Routine Outcome Measures

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.

This research is being worked 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, this PhD will hope 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 the first face of the PhD, literature is being read on 'playing around' creatively with different concepts, with the view to having gaps identified in the literature and understanding different dimensions of using ROMs in the mental health field.

Holding 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 communities. My research focuses on the experiences of Black Caribbean 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 continual learning about and implementing of 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 contribute to social justice outcomes for underserved communities. 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.

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.

Transcending Historical Trauma

Lead Researcher: Lynne Barnett

I have been granted ethical approval to begin my research in Cambodia, which is a developing country recovering from a turbulent history and the Khmer Rouge Genocide 1975-1979.

My previous masters’ studies of intergenerational trauma in Cambodia (2014), highlighted the need for further development of mental health services in the nation, which are currently patchy and limited. At that time, there were no professional counselling training programmes within higher education institutions in the nation and most universities to this day, are in the private sector. Many Cambodians were working in non-government organisations (NGO’s) as counsellors but had no professional training.

After undertaking an assessment of need survey in 2017, with the support of 50 NGO’s and government organisations, I founded and developed the first higher education counselling training programme in Cambodia. The two-year part-time diploma programme enabled two cohorts of students to graduate as professional counsellors. I also facilitated the contextualisation and translation of the British Association for Counsellors and Psychotherapists (BACP) ethical framework and co-founded the Cambodian Association for Counsellors and Psychologists (CACP) with Cambodian colleagues.

My current PhD research will explore the impact, if any, of the training on the former students and the possible need to decolonize the curriculum for sustainability of such a programme.

If you are interested in my research or would like more information, do not hesitate to contact me by emailing

Publications and research outputs

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

Staff profile

Professor Lynne Gabriel

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


John Wilson and Lynne Gabriel have been commissioned by PCCS books to write a textbook on Pluralistic Counselling for Grief and Loss. This should be published in late 2024 or early 2025.

Gabriel, L. & Wilson, J. Torn Apart. In Liz Rothschild Weathering the Storm- Stories of love, life, loss and discovery in the time of Covid. PCCS Books.

Gabriel, L.C., (October 2023). Social Justice Informed Therapy and Gender. In: Winter, L.A. and Charura, D., (eds.) The Handbook of Social Justice in Psychological Therapies: Power, Politics, Change. Sage.

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)

Staff profile

Professor Divine Charura


Winter L.A., & Charura D. (2023). Handbook of Social Justice Theory and Practice in the Psychological Therapies:  Power, Politics and Change. Sage

Charura, D., & Wicaksono, R., (2023) Doing Arts-based Decolonising Research. In S., Bager-Charleson & A. McBeath (Accepted for Publication and Forthcoming) Supporting Research in Counselling and Psychotherapy. Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods research. Palgrave Macmillan.

Charura, D., & Clyburn S., (2023) Critical race theory: A methodology for research in psychotherapy. In K. Tudor & J. Wyatt 2023) Reflexive Research for Reflective Practice: Qualitative Research Methodologies for Psychotherapy

Charura, D. & Smith P. (2023) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Accepted for publication in Feltham, C., Hanley, T., & Winter, L. A. (Eds.) (2023). The SAGE Handbook of Counselling and Psychotherapy. (4th ed.) Sage Publications Ltd.

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)


Charura D. and Nonhlanhla C. S. (2023) What is the importance of coaching psychologists integrating research and practice in relation to cognition, emotion, behaviour, structure, and function of the brain? The podcast is available on Apple Podcasts. BPS division of Coaching psychology.

Charura D. and Grafton K. (2023) Compassionate approaches to learning and teaching. Leeds Beckett University, Centre for Teaching and learning. The podcast is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts.

Smith S. and Charura, D. (2021) Happy lecturer = happy student; Encouraging positive learning relationships during these challenging times- CLT Podcast - Centre for Learning and Teaching, Leeds Beckett University. The podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts and Radio Public.

Charura, D. and Chaplin J.  (Feb 26, 2021) The Role and Responsibilities of Universities in Social Justice: Conversations in Social Justice. York St John University. Available on Spotify.  

Charura D., (2022) Recognise there is no one truth – design for inclusion, authenticity, and inspiration. Presented at The Developing Excellence in Academic Practice [DEAP] conference (2022) Outlining philosophies and priorities for designing courses, and to explore together the tensions and challenges that exist. Leeds Beckett University. Listen on YouTube

Staff profile

Dr Trish Hobman

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


John Wilson and Lynne Gabriel have been commissioned by PCCS books to write a textbook on Pluralistic Counselling for Grief and Loss. This should be published in late 2024 or early 2025.

Gabriel, L. & Wilson, J. Torn Apart. In Liz Rothschild Weathering the Storm- Stories of love, life, loss and discovery in the time of Covid. PCCS Books.

Wilson, J. (2020)The plain guide to grief. John Wilson.

Wilson, J. (2014)Supporting People through Loss and Grief: An Introduction for Counsellors and other Caring Practitioners. Jessica Kingsley.

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)

Staff profile

Dr Penn Smith

Published articles

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

Penn's work on RaY

Staff profiles

Dr Gary Shepherd

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)

Staff profile

Dr Andy Pendle

Published articles

View an up-to-date list of articles from Dr Andy Pendle, senior lecturer of counselling and mental health, on the York St John University repository, RaY.

Andy's work on RaY