University Centre Weston is proud to announce the exceptional achievements of two of its members, student Kimberley and lecturer Matthew, who recently delivered captivating research presentations at the renowned British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) Conference.
The BACP Conference, held annually, brings together esteemed professionals and researchers from the field of counselling and psychotherapy. This year, the conference served as a platform for Kimberley and Matthew to showcase their innovative work, shedding light on important topics within Counselling theory and practice.
Kimberley, third year Counselling student, presented her research paper based on her dissertation research which explored bereavement counsellors’ experiences and perceptions of the influence of cultural narratives on disenfranchised grief during COVID-19. She told us:
“It was an amazing feeling to have delegates come up to me after my presentation to express appreciation for my work and share their own COVID experiences. These conversations are so important if we are to grapple with what happened during the pandemic, so that both the counselling profession and wider society can learn from these experiences as we look to the future.”
Her thought-provoking presentation received accolades from both fellow attendees and industry professionals, demonstrating her insightful analysis.
In addition to Kimberley’s impressive contribution, lecturer Matthew further enhanced University Centre Weston’s presence at the BACP Conference with his master’s research presentation.
The participation of Kimberley and Matthew at the BACP Conference not only highlights their individual success but also reflects University Centre Weston’s commitment to providing a nurturing environment that encourages research excellence and practical application. Through such endeavours, the institution aims to help shape the future of counselling, equipping students with the knowledge and skills to make a meaningful impact in the field.
University Centre Weston congratulates Kimberley and Matthew on their remarkable achievements and looks forward to supporting more of our students and faculty members in their pursuit of advancing the Counselling and psychotherapy profession.
Find out more about Kimberley’s experience here:
After completing my Counselling BSc dissertation last year, my tutor, Claire, encouraged me to apply to present my research as a full paper at this year’s conference. Applications opened in November last year and I had to create a 400-word abstract that detailed my research and what I would be presenting, which then went to a peer review panel. In January this year I found out that I had passed the peer review panel with no amendments and had been selected to present my research in person at the conference. Most research that is presented at the conference is Masters, PhD, or post-Doctoral level so I was surprised and excited to be selected for my Bachelors’ research. I think this shows the high standard of quality research that is being undertaken within the Counselling BSc programme at UCW, producing research that is rigorous, professional, and that can have real impact in the mental health field.
I presented my research as a full paper, which involves a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation followed by a 10-minute question and answer section that involved both delegates in person and online.
My presentation was based on my dissertation research, which explored bereavement counsellors’ experiences and perceptions of the influence of cultural narratives on disenfranchised grief during COVID-19. Disenfranchised grief occurs when a loss is not socially validated, and pandemic research shows that as social distancing measures restricted funerals and visits to the dying in hospitals and care homes, bereaved individuals were unable to access social support, and this made it much harder to engage in healthy grieving responses. My research extended prior research by looking at how cultural narratives during the pandemic may have caused further disenfranchised grief. Cultural narratives are stories that powerful groups and individuals tell about the nature of society and how to behave within it, and are most often communicated through government messaging and news media reporting.
I was definitely nervous, but as the conference is held across two days, I was able to get used to the format beforehand and the BACP team were very helpful and welcoming.
As one of my tutors, Matt, was also presenting his Master’s research at the conference on the same day, the tutors and I went to the conference together, which helped me to feel incredibly supported. I most enjoyed the Q&A part of my presentation, as it was informal and allowed me to go into detail about parts of my research that I didn’t have time to talk about in my slide show. For example, my research was inspired both by my own experiences working as a bereavement counsellor during the pandemic, but also due to a random post I made on a popular social media site where I talked about increased disenfranchised grief. My post ended up going viral, with thousands of upvotes, replies, and private messages, where people were sharing their experiences of grief and loss during the pandemic.
I am passionate about these experiences being validated and heard, so doing research into this area felt like the best way to help this process and contribute to important discussions around how we can support the COVID bereaved. I enrolled on the BSc top-up specifically to do this research, and I’m so grateful that Claire encouraged and supported me to create a dissertation that I’m proud of, and that will hopefully become the first of many research projects I undertake through continuing studies and my career.
It was an amazing feeling to have delegates come up to me after my presentation to express appreciation for my work and share their own COVID experiences. These conversations are so important if we are to grapple with what happened during the pandemic, so that both the counselling profession and wider society can learn from these experiences as we look to the future. I hope that my research will continue to have an impact, so I am aiming to publish in a professional journal and have created a workshop that I can offer as CPD on this topic, both for counsellors and organisations that support the bereaved.
Being at the conference was an eye opening and inspiring experience, and it solidified that research is something I want to pursue as a career. Hearing other people share their research in a warm and welcoming environment has definitely given me confidence to continue in this field and I’m so excited for the future. UCW has given me an amazing foundation that I hope to continue building on after graduation, and I have my sights set on a doctorate and a future career in research. UCW has helped me to dream big and given me the confidence to pursue those dreams. As a disabled student, it hasn’t always been easy to navigate education, but at UCW I have been given the right support to help me thrive. I never thought I would have the opportunity to undertake cutting-edge, impactful research and then present that at a leading and prestigious professional conference, and this is because of the support I’ve been given by Claire and the team at UCW. Having others believe in you is powerful, and my experience at UCW has been life changing. Claire demystified the research process and supported and encouraged me to bring my own unique voice to my dissertation.
The BACP conference theme this year reflects the current professional focus on tackling social justice issues, and this is something that the team at UCW encouraged us to consider in our research. As a profession we have a responsibility to turn towards these issues, instead of away from them, and I’m proud that my research can contribute to this. The new Counselling BSc programme at UCW will equip students with the right knowledge and skills to approach these issues in the counselling room and challenge them through high-quality, valuable research
Find out more about our Counselling degree programme here.