Hidden histories: Assessing for previous psychological and emotional abuse (Psychology and Counselling)
Psychologists have known for many years that psychological and emotional abuse as a child can lead to mental health difficulties in later life. More recently, research has suggested that psychological and emotional abuse experienced as an adult also has the potential to negatively impact on mental health for years after the event. In these cases, it can be helpful for counsellors, psychologists and psychotherapists to be aware of such abuse at the beginning of any treatment as this can affect the therapeutic approach selected for the client. There is scope to build on previous work on determining the degree of psychological abuse incurred to provide a screening tool to identify clients who may benefit from working with someone trained in trauma and abuse from the outset. Such a tool could also be used in empirical research.
The project aim of this PhD will be to investigate the characteristics that indicate the likely presence of historical psychological and emotional abuse in someone presenting for treatment for mental health difficulties. This will guide the development and psychometric evaluation of a measure of psychological and emotional abuse. This project will build on existing quantitative measures and screening tools and will draw on theories relating to relational attachment, trauma and gender.
The research findings have potential for impact in a range fields including public health, mental health, psychology and domestic violence service provision.