BSc Psychology & Counselling – Field trip to Beaudesert Care Farm

By Julie Faulkner, Course Leader – BSc (Hons) Psychology & Counselling

During the winter this year, we offered our Psychology and Counselling undergraduates the chance to don a pair of wellies and enter the hills of Cannock to experience the eco-therapeutic value of care farming at Beaudesert Park Farm. This is family-run cereal and cattle farm, in a beautiful setting on the edge of Cannock Chase. Fifteen of us travelled by coach to spend the afternoon with staff, members and volunteers, who offered a warm welcome and a range of taster activities.

What are care farms?

Due to increasing financial pressures on the British farming industry, many farmers need to explore alternative income streams to survive. Care farming is one example of this, based on the principles of ecotherapy, where the natural environment offers a therapeutic space. In the case of Beaudesert, this involved structured farm-based activities for people from vulnerable groups and extends to carpentry, crafts, preparing food for the team and walking. Many volunteers of the project are previous members who now support others. This work is funded by health, social care and education agencies, but this funding is not always available. Mary Cope, one of the farm’s owners explained how this type of purposeful activity has had a profound impact on the quality of life for people with mental health difficulties and their families. We heard how some members had previously been isolated in their homes without structure or social contact before attending the farm.

Sadly, funding for these programmes is becoming increasingly scarce. The Seeds of Hope Programme that supported these members came to an end due to lack of funds. But rather than leave them unsupported, the staff team decided to set up a weekly walking group, which is now exploring new locations for walks within the local countryside.

Our time at the farm

When we arrived, we were introduced to the ‘Rolls Royce’ of composting toilets! Then we were greeted by the group of members and volunteers in a modern, purpose-built educational facility. Mary told us about the work of the care farm, which also included a project for people with dementia and activities for school children. We were taken on a tour of the farm to feed goats, see the rare breed cattle and talk to members and workers about their experiences on the farm. Incidentally, most of the volunteers are previous members of the care farm’s programmes. John Hegarty, a keen eco-psychologist took us through a mindfulness exercise as we stood among the woodland. I could feel the tension of the day giving way to the calm of the present moment. Later, we were treated to home made cakes and hot drinks, whilst mingling with the team and weaving with corn. The students were able to ask questions and give their feedback about what had impacted them about the experience.

Final reflections

As we walked around the farm in coat and wellies and chatted with members, I could see how this setting created a sense of peace and how the people’s lives had been changed through coming in to this space, whether spending time alone in the beautiful setting or through practical tasks and being together in the rural setting.

This field trip was also a chance for students from all levels of the undergraduate course to take some time out of their studies to be together. In their own words, her are some of their thoughts:

“It was a great place to be with nature and to see how it helped the people who used the service”

“It was inspiring to witness how an environment offering a supportive network, acceptance and purposeful activity impacted and improved the lives of the people at the farm.”

It was such a success that we plan to repeat this trip in the coming year for any students on the BSc Psychology and Counselling Degree course.


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Student Blog: Advice on how to manage your Final Year Undergraduate Research Project

By Sophia Fedorowicz, BSc Psychology & Counselling student.

My level 6 project explored the effects of listening to poetry on undergraduate stress because of the increasing need for stress management techniques and my personal love of the creative arts. I measured heart rate and skin responses to show stress levels in my participants and I also asked them to give a likability score for the poem they listened to. My results showed that participants who listened to the rhyming poem gave higher likability scores and there were some indication that the poems had an effect on the participants skin responses and heart rate. I hope to continue to explore a potential relationship between the level of likability of a poem and its potential as a stress management tool as my MSc by Applied Research project.

In order to conduct my study I recorded poems, using Biopac equipment to measure skin responses and heart rate, and BSL software to analyse those measurements. I worked with the Psychology technical team a lot, especially Paul Gallimore, throughout the designing of my study, data collection process, part of the analysis, and their support was boundless. If you decide to use the technical equipment for your study you will receive full training and this same support, so do not be put off and set up a meeting.

Secondly I must mention my tireless supervisor Dr Michael Batashvili who, despite being super busy with a million things, always had time for a meeting and never failed to reply to my emails, of which I sent a lot. Throughout your project maintaining communication with your supervisor is key. Tell them when it’s going well, tell them when it’s going wrong, tell them when you’re having an existential crisis. They will support you and help you to work out the best way to get your project finished.

And finally, enjoy it! Choose something you find interesting, do the reading and go for it. I am happy to answer questions or chat about my project any time:

sophia.e.fedorowicz@gmail.com

@FedorowiczS


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Keith Walmsley-Smith discusses mid-life crises on BBC Radio Derby

Keith Walmsley-Smith (Lecturer in Psychotherapeutic Counselling) was featured on BBC Radio Derby’s Sally Pepper Show (Monday 20th November 2017) discussing why some people experience a ‘mid-life crisis’ and whether there are any possible benefits to behaving younger than your actual age.

 

You can hear Keith’s interview via the BBC iPlayer link below (from 1 hour, 16 minutes approx. into the show):

BBC Radio Derby: Sally Pepper Show (20/11/17)

Keith teaches counselling to students studying Staffordshire University’s BSc (Hons) Psychology & Counselling degree and professional postgraduate counselling courses.


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

 

What is Neuropsychoanalysis? Dr David Goss explains…

Dr David Goss

Dr. David Goss (Lecturer in Counselling & Psychology and a  member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) blogs about the field of Neuropsychoanalysis and attending a recent conference on neuropsychoanalysis:

Similar to Ronseal quick drying wood stain, Neuropsychoanalysis (NPSA) is exactly what it says on the tin; it’s an integration of neuroscience and psychoanalysis, combining modern quantitative neuroscience research with qualitative, psychoanalytical theories of the mind. The aim is to provide an integrated approach to further understanding human existence.

Attending the 18th annual congress of the International NPSA Society at University College London (UCL), my mind (or brain?) was ready to take on a whole range of subjects and learning. A range of speakers presented talks on fantastic subjects, but perhaps the one that stood out was a discussion on the nature of consciousness. The intention of this blog article is to present the idea that consciousness resides in feeling.

Discussions of consciousness often revolve around the notion of thinking, the narrative of the “I” and other cognitions such as daydreaming and rumination. A popular quote in philosophy is Rene Descartes’ “I think therefore I am” – an example of the premier role ascribed to thought in defining consciousness. But maybe “we feel therefore we are”?  Clear your mind of thought for a moment, stare blankly at the space in front of you, are you not still conscious? All of your homeostatic feelings, thirst, hunger, attraction, approach, avoidance…when we are in moments of flow, reacting to a threat or external situation, we often do not have time to think, we operate from feeling. Feeling is at the core of what drives our actions and guides us through life, yet we often try and think our way through things.

The 2017 NPSA Conference

The cortex, an area which is often suggested to play a key role in cognition/thinking, sits at the top of the brain (geographically). The more primitive and ancient feeling centres sit further below, in limbic system and brain stem regions. This evolutionary layout in itself highlights the core and primitive role that feelings play in our experience. Mark Solms, chair of the NPSA society has presented the example of a young child who suffers from hydraencelaphy, a condition which results in the absence of a cerebral cortex (i.e., thinking part of her brain) and yet when her baby brother is placed in her arms, she smiles with what seems to be happiness and joy. As such, is she therefore not consciously experiencing the process of holding her baby brother, without thinking about it?

I say these words not to try and convert or push a viewpoint upon you, solely just to highlight the important role that feelings play in determining our core experience. Just something for you to think – or feel – about!


Dr. David Goss has recently published a chapter on ‘Working with Neuroscience and Neuropsychology‘ in the Fourth Edition of the SAGE Handbook of Counselling and Psychotherapy (click here for more details).


The Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

Interested in a Psychology degree? Come to an Open Day – for further details and to book your place at an open day please click here.

For more information about the Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit the below pages:

Doreen Fleet discusses using sand-trays in Counselling practice

Doreen F

Doreen Fleet

Doreen Fleet (Senior Lecturer in Counselling and a member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) is conducting a multiple case study using sand-tray with adults in short-term therapy from a pluralistic perspective and blogs about her recently published research:

Sand-tray therapy is a creative intervention and involves the use of a sand-tray and a collection of objects (see below for examples). The objects act as physical metaphors or symbols to represent a client’s inner–experience, personal history, personal relationships and their relationship to the wider world.

Doreen, in her article published in Private Practice in 2015, says:

In my view sand-tray therapy has something to offer over and above talking therapy; it appears that the client shifts from being stuck and overwhelmed in their pain to being able to explore and express it” (p17).

Being able to express and externalize their pain involves the client becoming “observer and experiencer simultaneously” they are able to take one step out of their pain, without losing connection to thought and feeling” (p17). This process enables the client to go further in their exploration and often brings new insight and relief from working through previously unexpressed emotion.

Jul16 DFleet SandTray 2 Jul16 DFleet SandTray

In the ongoing multiple case study using sand-tray, Doreen takes the dual role of counsellor-researcher. Doreen, along with her supervisors Dr. Amy Burton, Dr. Andrew Reeves and Dr. Mani Das Gupta have had a paper accepted by Qualitative Research in Psychology entitled ‘A case for the dual-role of counsellor-researcher in qualitative research’ which is now in press.

The article explores how the dual role of counsellor-researcher was managed in the study and a case example taken from the multiple case study is incorporated to illustrate how taking the dual role is a legitimate approach in qualitative research. Some researchers argue against taking a dual role in research, warning that the different roles have conflicting obligations and expectations which are not easily resolved (Kitchener, 1988).  Doreen, in her new paper (2016) challenges this and would echo Dallos and Vetere (2005) who state that practice-based data is convincing evidence for counselling research as “it captures the miracle of therapy in a way that statistics and randomized controls cannot” (p131).  Doreen and her supervisors argue that this research approach is highly relevant to counselling, as it closes the gap between research and counselling practice.


Are you interested in studying for a Counselling qualification?

Staffordshire University offers counselling courses ranging from Foundation Degrees with local partner colleges, undergraduate degrees (including a British Psychological Society accredited BSc Psychology and Counselling degree) and postgraduate counselling qualifications at our Stoke-on-Trent City Campus:

Keith Walmsley-Smith featured on BBC Radio Stoke discussing why people fall in love at first sight

Keith Walmsley-Smith

Keith Walmsley-Smith (Lecturer in Psychotherapeutic Counselling, School of Psychology, Sport & Exercise) was featured on BBC Radio Stoke’s Breakfast Show with Pete Morgan (Wednesday 6th April) discussing why people may fall in love at first sight.

Listen to Keith’s interview via the BBC iPlayer (click here) – Keith can be heard from approx 42 minutes 50 seconds into the show.

Keith is the Award Leader for Staffordshire University’s BSc Psychology & Counselling course – more details about the course and other Psychology degrees at Staffordshire University can be found here.


The School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise at Staffordshire University is a leading School in the UK for Psychology degrees and is situated in the heart of England.  We produce internationally recognized research which is driving knowledge in this area forward and we work with a variety of healthcare providers, charities, international sports teams and private sector organisations.

For more information or details of the wide range of Psychology degrees on offer at Staffordshire University please visit our website and our courses page.

Counselling Open Evening, 6pm, Wednesday 10th February

The Psychology Department at Staffordshire University are hosting an Open Evening on Wednesday 10th February (6-8pm) for their counselling courses.

Counselling provides a safe space for people to talk about their experiences, explore feelings and make changes in a safe environment. Our Basic Skills and Certificate courses offer the opportunity to gain an excellent grounding in the use of counselling skills
in a variety of settings. Studying at Diploma level will allow you to become qualified to practise safely as a counsellor.

Our counselling team are highly qualified and experienced. They are counselling practitioners who work in a variety of settings and use a range of different therapeutic approaches. All of our counselling courses will help you to understand yourself and others better.

We offer a full suite of counselling awards from a ten week introductory course to a three year Masters in Psychotherapeutic Counselling award:

Introduction to Basic Counselling Skills
University Certificate in Counselling
Postgraduate Diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling*
Professional Diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling*
MSc Psychotherapeutic Counselling

* Accredited by the British Association of BACP Course Accred logoCounselling & Psychotherapy.

Further details about our Pg/Prof Diploma/MSc in Psychotherapeutic Counselling can be found via the below video:


Counselling Courses Open Evening

The Open Evening will include the opportunity to:

  • Learn more about our courses in Counselling (ranging from the Introductory 10 week course to the MSc in Psychotherapeutic Counselling)
  • Explore the counselling facilities in our multi-million pound Science Centre
  • Meet our friendly team of experienced tutors
  • Get advice about the application process

Time: 6-8pm, Wednesday 10th February
Venue: Staffordshire University Leek Road Campus, ST4 2DF
Room: R333 Science Centre

Places are limited so booking is essential. To book your place at the Open Evening please contact Dr Emily Buckley on e.j.buckley@staffs.ac.uk


 

BACP Accreditation for Staffordshire’s PG/Prof Diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling

Doreen Fleet, Senior Lecturer in Counselling, reports on a successful accreditation outcome for the Counselling Team at Staffordshire University:

The Counselling Team at Staffordshire University are pleased to announce that the Psychotherapeutic Postgraduate/Professional Diploma in Counselling has now achieved accreditation from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).

Jan 16 Counselling Team

Staffordshire University’s Counselling Lecturers

A lot of hard work went into the application process which included a visit by BACP representatives. Their visit included assessing the course documents, observing the facilities and speaking to some of the current staff and students.

Following their visit, the BACP provided written feedback stating “From the submission and the course visit, it is clear that that the course is founded and run on an integrative counselling framework which includes Person-Centred, Cognitive Behavioural, Systemic, Psychodynamic and Attachment Approaches.  This is a well-structured and well-resourced course with excellent accommodation and facilities. The teaching staff are experienced and knowledgeable and the quality of the teaching appears to be excellent. Students appeared to be well engaged and well supported on this course”.

Dr Peter Jones, Head of the School of Psychology, Sport & Exercise, commented: “Its very pleasing to achieved BACP accreditation for two reasons. Firstly it’s a mark of quality for our courses and secondly it reflects the hard work that was put into the accreditation. The process of achieving BACP accreditation is long and robust process and demonstrates the quality of our academic counselling staff”.


The School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise at Staffordshire University offers a range of qualifications in counselling and psychology. For more information about the wide range of Psychology degrees on offer please visit our website and our courses page.

Are you interested in studying for a Counselling qualification?

Staffordshire University offers counselling courses ranging from Foundation Degrees with local partner colleges, undergraduate degrees (including a British Psychological Society accredited BSc Psychology and Counselling degree) and postgraduate counselling qualifications at our Stoke-on-Trent City Campus:

Counselling Workshop on Systemic Practice for North Staffs Mind

Nov15 Couns Blog BM

Beverley Meakin

Belinda Priestley and Beverley Meakin, lecturers in Counselling from Staffordshire University’s Psychology Department, blog about a recent Continuing Professional Development (CPD) workshop they gave to counsellors from the North Staffordshire Mind organisation.

On Saturday 19th September we delivered a one day CPD workshop on Systemic Practice to an enthusiastic group of 24 counsellors from North Staffs Mind. Mind contacted our counselling team and requested an Introduction to Systemic Practice as their counsellors often have to see a partner or carer of adult clients, or parents of young people they work with. It can be quite a challenge to manage therapeutic conversations with more than one person in the room!

A Systemic Approach pays attention to communication patterns, the interpersonal aspects of relationships and the context of the people concerned as well as the ethical and organisational contexts. Family dynamics can be a powerful influence and a therapist can find themselves in a very different environment with family members present rather than on a one to one with the client.

The enthusiasm and openness of the group from Mind helped the day develop into a fascinating experience as participants reflected on their own contexts, family dynamics and ethical concerns. They built on knowledge and skills through engaging in a very life like role play scenario! Feedback was really helpful for us to develop the day further and very clear about what was most worthwhile and enjoyable.

Surprisingly I enjoyed the role play!’ commented one participant ‘I feel I gained from every aspect of the CPD

Others found the role play difficult and the small group exercises more useful ‘looking at systems within families, uniqueness’, ‘learning about the different interventions and family scripts’. There were requests for more… ‘Felt like we only touched the surface, perhaps 2 days training?’ ‘Will definitely be interested in more CPD from Staffs Uni’.


The School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise at Staffordshire University offers a range of qualifications in counselling and psychology. For more information about the wide range of Psychology degrees on offer please visit our website and our courses page.

Staffordshire University offers counselling courses ranging from Foundation Degrees with local partner colleges, undergraduate degrees (including a British Psychological Society accredited BSc Psychology and Counselling degree) and postgraduate counselling qualifications at our Stoke-on-Trent City Campus: