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Autism and person-centred counselling: A sociocultural study of practitioner experiences and perspectives


   School of Education

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  Dr J Ravet, Mrs Anne Smith  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Autism is a spectrum condition associated with challenges related to social communication, social understanding, flexibility of thought and sensory processing. For many autistic people, the repeated experience of these multiple challenges can lead, over time, to significant stress, anxiety and associated mental health problems for which therapeutic interventions are sought.

However, there is growing awareness, both within the autistic community and across therapeutic services, of the paucity of effective counselling provision for autistic clients. This is associated with a lack of understanding of the condition amongst counsellors and a poor grasp of the approaches and strategies that enable effective support. As a result, opportunities for therapeutic intervention are severely limited, and the research base for the efficacy of such interventions is thin, especially in the field of person-centred counselling. There is therefore a significant gap in the research in this area which opens up exciting possibilities for doctoral study. The purpose of this PhD opportunity is to explore this gap in the research.

We are seeking a candidate who is interested in researching the experiences and perspectives of person-centred counsellors who work with clients with autism. This would entail a sociocultural study of the ethos, relationships and environmental factors that are characteristic of the client/therapist alliance within the person-centred counselling approach. The aim would be to shine light on the nature of this alliance, identify its distinguishing features and evaluate its efficacy in relation to practice with autistic clients.

Prospective candidates for this PhD must have a postgraduate qualification in autism and recent experience of supporting autistic clients. Candidates must also have a professionally validated/accredited qualification in person-centred counselling and a relevant Masters level qualification.

If you are interested in this unique and stimulating opportunity, and have the qualifications and experience specified, we would be delighted to hear from you. In order to apply, we ask that you develop a research proposal, based on the overview above, that identifies a clear, well-focused research question, includes a Literature Review, and specifies an appropriate methodology.

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