Recent Submissions

  • Addressing Gaps in Cognitive Dissonance Theory and Relational Frame Theory – Research on Coherence and Ambiguity

    Hulbert-Williams, Lee; Hulbert-Williams, Nick; Lafferty, Moira; Ashcroft, Samuel P. (University of Chester, 2021-03)
    The aim of this thesis was to build a body of evidence to address several gaps in Cognitive Dissonance Theory (Harmon-Jones, E. & Harmon-Jones, C., 2007) and Relational Frame Theory (Hayes et al., 2001), relating to relational coherence, incoherence, and particularly ambiguity. These gaps included a lack of: theory and research on ambiguity; robust definitions of coherence, incoherence and ambiguity; research on the relative appetitiveness of coherence versus incoherence and ambiguity; multiple-stimulus research in Cognitive Dissonance Theory; technical experimentation in Cognitive Dissonance Theory; and clarity about the stimulus-specific lower boundary conditions of coherence-related phenomena. An overview of theory and research pertaining to coherence, incoherence and ambiguity was given (Chapter 1), including discussion regarding the gaps highlighted. Then, working definitions of coherence, incoherence and ambiguity were offered (Chapter 2). The ambiguity-coherence study by Quinones and Hayes (2014) was conceptually replicated and expanded (Chapter 3), discovering that participants spontaneously generate A-C relationships on ambiguous A-C blocks involving nonsense stimuli. A design issue regarding patterns of reinforcement was identified in Chapter 3, and this was discussed and resolved (Chapter 4), alongside an assessment of the appetitive properties of coherence. Participants displayed no preference towards completing a coherent versus an ambiguous A-C block again. Physiological measures of Heart Rate and Galvanic Skin Response were measured in response to coherence and ambiguity (Chapter 5), further evidencing spontaneous generation of relationships in response to ambiguity. No difference in physiological measures was found between coherent and ambiguous A-C blocks. Incoherence was incorporated into the design (Chapter 6), which provided corroborative evidence of the spontaneous generation effect and also demonstrated the validity of the experimental design by matching predictions from Relational Frame Theory. An updated assessment of the appetitive properties of coherence was completed (Chapter 7), with real words as stimuli and discriminatives. Spontaneous generation of relationships in response to ambiguity also occurred using these alternative stimuli. Differences were broadly not found between coherent and ambiguous A-C block types, indicating that there appears to be a stimulus-specific lower boundary condition for various coherence phenomena such as changes in affect and arousal. However, the spontaneous generation of A-C relationships indicates no stimulus-specific lower boundary condition for coherence-related behavioural responses. Finally, the effect of experimental design on spontaneous generation of relationships was assessed (Chapter 8), identifying that spontaneous generation of relationships is moderated by the complexity of the cognitive task at hand. Findings from this thesis were synthesised with literature on coherence, particularly that of Cognitive Dissonance Theory and Relational Frame Theory (Chapter 9), with limitations, implications and future research directions given. This thesis: evidences the importance of ambiguity in any theory relating to coherence; identifies a possible stimulus-specific lower boundary condition for affective but not behavioural coherence-related responses; shows that the spontaneous generation of relationships effect could potentially be considered a fundamental aspect of human relational behaviour; and demonstrates that such spontaneous generation effects appear moderated by the complexity of the cognitive task at hand.
  • An investigation into the development of ACT-based approaches to increase physical activity

    Lafferty, Moira; Whalley, Anthony P. (University of Chester, 2021-01)
    It is well documented that regular physical exercise supports physical and mental wellbeing. Despite the promotion of physical activity by world health experts and governments, physical inactivity within the population remains a cause for concern and disorders associated with sedentary lifestyles have continued to increase. Evidence suggests that the uncomfortable private-events people experience during physical exertion can become psychological barriers to participation in physical activity and thus result in avoidant behaviours. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) has been used to promote increased physical exercise by enhancing psychological flexibility in relation to private-events that are perceived as unpleasant. However, relationships between the individual ACT processes and the theories which underpin their use in interventions designed to promote physical activity have yet to be fully explored. Understanding the relationship between ACT processes and physical exercise is key for appropriate and robust intervention development. This thesis aimed to explore the theoretical and practical application of ACT processes in relation to exercise and inform further development of effective brief interventions designed to increase activity levels. The programme of work within this thesis had two phases. The first phase included two studies: a systematic review to explore the existing evidence; and a quantitative survey study to determine if associations exist between physical activity levels and the individual core processes of ACT. Results from phase one found that the reviewed literature failed to explore the use of Relational Frame Theory (RFT) critical to ACT, and a survey suggested that ACT processes of defusion, self-as-context and personal values were likely to play a significant part in activity levels. The second phase comprised of three interrelated quantitative intervention studies designed using RFT. Each explored the ACT processes by measuring task duration and the intensity of private-events experienced during exercise. The first intervention study combined defusion and self-as-context with no significant effects on an exercise task. The second combined defusion, self-as-context and value orientated cues to behaviour change. Exercise duration was significantly increased in the ACT intervention, while there was no decrease in the intensity of private-events. The final study tested a values clarification task with cues to behaviour change and reported significantly increased exercise duration. The thesis demonstrates that relational frame theory applied to ACT processes can influence the duration of exercise although the relationship with private-events remains uncertain. The robust, theory focused approach to this work represents a small but valuable contribution to the development of intervention strategies and has implications for future research. Strategies worked best using a combination of both deictic and hierarchical relations for training cognitive defuison and self-as-context, and especially for the clarification of personal values used as cues to behaviour change. Further research is needed to establish both the external validity and longevity of observed effects.
  • Laterality in Chimpanzees: Links with Behavioural Style and Social Networks

    Murray, Lindsay; Rodway, Paul; Díaz González, Sergio (University of Chester, 2021-01)
    This thesis presents a series of studies investigating laterality in chimpanzees and its links with personality examined as behavioural style and social networks. The studies presented in this work were conducted by observing a group of 19 chimpanzees in captivity and present new findings in this species. However, this thesis has a broad evolutionary perspective, addressing important questions regarding personality and laterality that could prove helpful to the understanding of the evolution of laterality in vertebrates. Chapter 1 offers a general review of the three main areas of knowledge investigated: laterality, animal personality and primate social networks. Then, the first study of this project, presented in Chapter 2, began by exploring hand preference in the chimpanzee group, investigating spontaneous actions and unimanual tasks and expanding previous research by studying posture, between-task consistency and temporal stability. Chapter 3 investigated additional measures of motor laterality and proposed a novel way of measuring laterality in primates. Together, Chapters 2 and 3 directly examine laterality in chimpanzees and serve as the base from which to explore the links between laterality, personality and social networks in the subsequent studies. If lateralization is rooted in emotional processing and hemispheric lateralization, then individual differences in behaviour (particularly those that reflect emotional expression) would show a relationship with individual laterality. In order to address this question, Chapter 4 studies behavioural style in chimpanzees and its possible link with laterality. Simultaneously, if intraspecific coordination plays a role in the development of population level laterality, similarly lateralised individuals would likely have strong bonds to coordinate with each other. Chapter 5 introduces the approach and techniques of social network analysis and uses them to explore and describe the social structure of the group while describing the integration of a new adult chimpanzee. Chapter 6 applies social network analysis to explore if laterality plays a role in the way the group is structured. Lastly, Chapter 7 integrates all empirical chapters and presents the final discussion and conclusions of the thesis.
  • Are children in care offered effective therapeutic support?

    Reeves, Andrew; Smith, Andrew M. (University of Chester, 2020-07)
    Aim - This thesis aims to answer the question as to whether or not the therapeutic support offered to children in care in the U.K. is effective. There are two parts to the question: ascertaining what the actual offer of therapy consists of; the quality of that offer in terms of therapeutic effectiveness. Background - children in care are significantly more likely than their peers to be involved in offending behaviour, substance misuse, and to be unemployed DfE (2019). There is evidence to suggest that unresolved developmental trauma can contribute to these outcomes (National Audit Office, 2015). It is unclear how focused the government is on supporting effective therapeutic recovery from developmental trauma. Method - Questionnaires were distributed to every local authority in the country, with approval from the Directors’ of Children’s Services. Interviews were attempted. A Foucaultian Discourse Analysis of key pieces of legislation in the field was then completed, and a Thematic Analysis of 28 studies into therapeutic recovery from complex developmental trauma was achieved. Key Findings- The study found that children in care are not systematically offered effective therapeutic support. In fact, there are multiple issues according to the quality of therapies on offer: there is a legal/political/organisational system that is dysfunctional: the offer of therapy is impossible to ascertain across the country; the way in which therapists research their own provision is laden with methodological, political, and ethical issues. However, the evidence supports the idea that we are aware of some key factors that help therapeutic recovery. Implications for Practice - The evidence provided a range of factors to support future development of therapeutic support to children in care, and supported a mapping out of the way in which therapies could usefully be developed in the future. The evidence led to the development of a model of best practice. Conclusion - The thesis ends with some recommendations as to how the profession of psychotherapy and counselling could begin to develop both their knowledge base and way of working with children care to support more effective therapeutic recovery.
  • A moment of love? Embodied experiences of relational depth in transactional analysis psychotherapy

    Gubi, Peter; Swales, Emma (University of Chester, 2020-10)
    This research project explores the question: ‘Can moments of relational depth be understood as a moment of love?’ The aims of the research were: to determine whether Transactional Analysis (TA) psychotherapists have experienced moments of relational depth; to explore their embodied and spiritual experience of this phenomenon, and to investigate participants’ interpretations of this experience. The research has sought to understand if these moments of intense, embodied attunement in therapy can be interpreted as moments of love. The study uses Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) to explore the embodied experience of moments of relational depth in transactional analysis psychotherapy, by exploring the felt experience, understandings and conceptualisations of visceral experiences of moments of profound, intense connection in the therapeutic relationship. Thoughts, feelings and experiences of love in therapy are also explored. Semi-structured interviews of nine experienced Transactional Analysis psychotherapists are analysed and 5 superordinate and 26 subordinate themes are identified. The study found that TA psychotherapists do experience moments of embodied relational depth, and that this moment of relational depth can be described and understood as a moment of love. The participants were able to describe significant and similar physical and spiritual sensations that identified the experience. This phenomenon is also explored and understood as a moment of interpersonal physical synchrony. The participants interpreted this experience as being related to early infant-parent interactions, and as a transmission between themselves and their clients. All the participants described feeling love in the therapeutic relationship, and there were descriptions of the types of love that can occur in therapy. A definition of therapeutic love is also offered. The research data showed that for the participants in the study, therapeutic love is a fundamental aspect of therapy, both as a quality of the therapeutic relationship, and as a moment of embodied attunement. Therefore, the research suggests that training and supervision processes need to support trainee and qualified psychotherapists to explore and understand these phenomena. Identifying moments of embodied attunement requires an awareness of our internal experience. This suggests that a focus on the body and body awareness is an essential component of counselling and psychotherapy training courses. The integration of body psychotherapy into mainstream counselling and psychotherapy training will enable therapists to be open to experiences of embodied attunement in therapy. In addition, ongoing personal therapy for practitioners serves as an additional resource to underpin the safe provision of this profound therapeutic work.
  • A Thematic Review of Contemporary Accounts of Black and of White Residents in North-East Wales Towards Black/White Interracial Relationships

    Robbins, Mandy; Hamid, Sahar; Cairns, Andrew D. (University of ChesterWrexham Glyndwr University, 2019-04)
    Exploring accounts of relations between racial groups has been identified as a key focus within the social sciences, with the views expressed towards intermarriage between members of particular groups often presented as a barometer for wider intergroup attitudes. Studies concerning interracial relationships have been particularly rare in Wales and remain unexplored within North Wales; this study seeks to address this gap in the knowledge base. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six Black participants, six White participants, and one participant of mixed Black/White heritage, all residing within North-East Wales, to explore accounts relating to Black/White interracial marriage. Interview transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis and identified six overarching themes: Contact, Lack of Contact, Positive Views, Negative Views, Culture, and Colour-Blindness. Results indicated that the personal views of both Black and White participants towards the concept of intermarriage were mostly positive, though sources of societal opposition in the local area were also identified. Gradual increases in the racial diversity of the region were linked to greater levels of acceptance of people from racial minorities, though it was also noted that the social networks of both White and Black participants were relatively homogeneous, suggesting there are limited opportunities for contact to take place between the two groups. Cultural factors had considerable influence for Black participants and some accounts were provided relating to social exchange theory. Whilst the results cannot be generalised to the entire population of North-East Wales, or to the racial groups that participants came from, they provide rich detailed data on individual and societal views of Black/White interracial relationships in a region of the UK where studies of this type have been unprecedented.
  • From the informal to the disciplinary: Policing ‘juvenile nuisance’ and youth anti-social behaviour since the mid-1990s. A qualitative study of Police Officers’ perspectives

    Gorden, Caroline; Dubberley, Sarah; Cronin-Wojdat, Wayne P. (University of ChesterWrexham Glyndwr University, 2020-07)
    A topic neglected in the academic literature is an exploration of police officers’ perspectives on policing anti-social behaviour involving children and young people. The purpose of this thesis is to contribute to bridging that gap in the existing literature. This thesis describes a qualitative study that collected data by conducting semi-structured interviews with serving police officers from a United Kingdom police service. The academic literature indicated that the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 resulted in considerable changes to policing anti-social behaviour. Therefore, this study wantednto capture the police officers’ perspectives of policing anti-social behaviour before and after the implementation of the Act. Therefore, serving police officers who began their service prior to the legislation were recruited. A key finding of this thesis is that the legal definition of anti-social behaviour is imprecise. Consequently, police officers defined and interpreted anti-social behaviour differently according to their unique worldviews. However, this study found that a key component of police officers’ definitions of anti-social behaviour is their understanding of respect. Police officers tended to define anti-social behaviour as conduct that showed disrespect or was inconsiderate to other people. This study found that since the mid-1990s, the police officers had noticed changes in the policing of anti-social behaviour involving children and young people. The types of changes they noticed included the demand for policing anti-social behaviour due to the public’s expectations, and the policing priority given to it. Police officers perceived that ‘traditional’ anti-social behaviour involving children and young people gathering in public spaces was now less prevalent and instead, a larger policing issue was the emerging phenomenon of cyber anti-social behaviour. The police officers indicated there had been changes in the police service’s response to the anti-social behaviour of children and young people. Police officers suggested there were differences in their discretion to informally resolve anti-social behaviour incidents because of an increase in accountability for their response to it. Additionally, the ethos had moved away from criminalising children and young people for anti-social behaviour, and instead, offering them conditional social support to help them desist. The multi-agency response to anti-social behaviour provided new insights into the causes of it and the vulnerability of children and young people. This study identified that police officers held contrasting perspectives about their organisation's approach to anti-social behaviour involving children and young people. There are implications for further research on the policing of anti-social behaviour. The research findings indicated that now academics need to be careful about using terms such as ‘the police view’ because police officers have multiple different perspectives on anti-social behaviour. Additionally, the focus of the literature was on ‘traditional’ anti-social behaviour caused by children and young people in public spaces, however that needs reviewing because of the emergence of cyber anti-social behaviour. Furthermore, the literature tends to link anti-social behaviour with low-level crime. However, due to the recent association between anti-social behaviour, child criminal exploitation and child sexual exploitation, the relationship between it and criminal offences requires revision.
  • “I too matter”. The experience and impact of a brief online self-compassion intervention for informal carers of those with a life-limiting or terminal illness: A mixed methods study

    Reeves, Andrew; Gubi, Peter; Diggory, Catherine J. (University of Chester, 2020-09)
    Aims: Being an informal carer of someone with a life-limiting or terminal illness (‘Carer’) often results in marked levels of depression, anxiety and stress. Yet, Carers have little available free time to devote to lengthy, well-being interventions offered outside the home. Carers also struggle to prioitorise their self-care, a factor which may help buffer some of the negative impacts of being a Carer. The aim of this research was to gain insight into Carers’ views and perceptions of the impact of a brief, four module, online self-compassion intervention for Carers which was created to improve wellbeing, increase self-compassion and develop self-care among Carers. In so doing, the research addresses gaps in the literature relating to self-compassion interventions for Carers and targeted self-care initiatives for Carers. Design: This predominantly qualitative study was undertaken in two phases. In Phase One semi-structured interviews with nine participants of a four module, one to one self-compassion intervention (iCare), delivered in person, were conducted and data subjected to a reflexive thematic analysis within a critical realist framework. Additionally, descriptive statistics were collected. The findings from Phase One provided a theoretical basis for the design and content of the online version of iCare, the intervention studied in Phase Two. Seven Carers completed the four module online self-compassion programme. Data were collected through individual module feedback, post-intervention online qualitative questionnaires and descriptive statistics. Findings: The reflexive thematic analysis of the data generated four overarching themes: The Myth of SuperCarer; Get with the programme!; ‘Being kinder to myself’; and Everyone’s a winner. These explored how participants approached iCareonline, the impact engaging with it had on their well-being and highlighted how participants developed self-care through gaining permission to recognise their own needs. Improvements in psychological well-being and increases in self-compassion were reflected in the quantitative findings. In line with critical realist methodology, a causal mechanism was proposed explaining the development of self-compassion and conscious self-care among participants based on a cyclical model of Carer self-compassion. Implications: This study has relevance for: healthcare practitioners as the findings suggest that these professionals have a key role in legitimising Carer needs and fostering permission in Carers to practise self-care; counselling and psychotherapy professionals who work with Carers who are well-placed to challenge barriers Carer-clients may erect in the face of encouragement to practise self-care and self-compassion. Some of the content of iCare may prove useful to those therapists adopting a pluralistic approach when working with clients who are carers. Finally, teachers of mindful self-compassion could note the importance of the permission-giving aspects of a self-compassion intervention and the role it plays in developing conscious self-care in participants.
  • Professional Development Implications for Counsellors Who Have Worked in The English Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) Programme

    Reeves, Andrew; Gubi, Peter; Mason, Richard (University of Chester, 2020-12)
    Background: Prior to the implementation of the IAPT programme by NHS England in 2008, counsellors were commonly employed to deliver psychological therapy in English NHS Primary Care Mental Health (PCMH) services. Pre-IAPT, professional development for PCMH practitioners, like the therapeutic approaches they offered, was non-standardised. Post-IAPT, PCMH provision became standardised, utilising manualised therapies alongside a commitment to outcome data completion. IAPT operates a highly structured approach to PCMH provision, arguably a treatment paradigm, in which ontological and epistemological entities are controlled. The model allows minimal flexibility in relation to what should, and how it should be treated; what data should, and how it should be gathered, and how outcomes should be interpreted. Clinical Commissioning Groups, contract to deliver IAPT services to any qualified providers, using IAPT data to determine performance. Arguably, IAPT has franchised PCMH in England. Professional development of IAPT practitioners is confined to training that supports the delivery of its aims. Consequently, service investment in training is focussed towards NICE approved approaches that are considered to be evidence-based. These approaches are epistemologically nomothetic, creating ideological challenges to counsellors who are epistemologically idiographic. This incommensurability between the IAPT treatment paradigm and counsellors, can affect professional development. Objectives: This research focusses on implications for professional development of counsellors who have worked in IAPT. Conducted amongst ex-IAPT counsellors, to explore: the degree to which counsellors engage in IAPT professional development opportunities; how facilitative IAPT service is to professional development; how counsellors conceptualise and respond to those professional development opportunities. Method: Semi-structured interviews of eight participants who had worked in different IAPT services across England were completed and analysed utilising an Applied Thematic Analysis. Findings: Three themes were identified, exposing many implications for counsellor professional development, influenced by: the IAPT Business and Clinical Models, and Participants Responses to those influences, reflecting both external and internal ideological challenges towards professional development. Conclusions: Ideological incommensurability, can result in both positive and negative professional development outcomes. Business and clinical models contributed to the struggle to identify, secure, or adapt to formal opportunities that are ideologically incompatible. However, participants capitalised on informal professional development opportunities. Exposure to the IAPT program, and the working environment of primary care mental health, enhanced knowledge and experience, administrative competence, and provided valuable exposure to wide-ranging variety of type and complexity in clinical presentation. This was identified as contributing to the development of a notable level of pluralistic practices. Participants did not disclose planned professional development strategies (appearing to respond intuitively to opportunity), suggesting that professional development was lacking intent. Therefore, counsellors are encouraged to reflect upon the type of psychological therapist they wish to become; contemplate the benefit of a structured professional development plan to achieve that aim; recognise the rich potential IAPT offers, and consider how IAPT might contribute to their professional development.
  • Benefits of musical training on implicit memory and learning in healthy older adults and individuals with dementia

    Cousins, Margaret; Bramwell, Ros; Thorpe, Lisa (University of Chester, 2021-03)
    Ageing is linked to a variety of health issues, but perhaps the most well documented feature of growing older is that it is associated with memory decline (Ward, Berry & Shanks, 2013). It is well established that explicit memory declines with age, with the rate of decline being an important predictor of the diagnosis of dementia (Ward et al., 2013). Implicit memory is involved in everyday tasks that, with practice, become largely automatic. The process of implicit learning is generally defined as the ability to acquire knowledge unconsciously. An effective way of improving health in older adults is through music. Making music is one of the essential skills that requires the use of implicit knowledge. Procedural learning is one type of implicit knowledge that focuses on the learning of a skill through repeated performance and practise. To become a professional musician takes years of skill training, for example, practising scales improves finger patterns in pianists, which over time becomes an implicit motor skill that helps with musical performance. Previous research that has looked at implicit memory in musicians, has focused on young adults and found that both musicians and non-musicians performed equally on implicit knowledge tasks (Bigand et al. 2001). This thesis aimed to look at whether musical training is associated with better performance in implicit memory in healthy older adults and individual with dementia. To do this implicit memory tasks including an adaptation of the Phoneme Monitoring Task (Bigand et al., 2001), Serial Reaction Time Task (Nissen & Bullemer, 1987) and The Word Completion tasks (Tulving, Schacter & Stark, 1982), were completed by healthy older adults and individuals with dementia both musicians and non-musicians. Overall, results showed that musicians, both older adults and individuals with dementia, performed better than non-musicians on procedural learning tasks (Serial Reaction Time Task) but there was no difference on implicit tasks such as priming. Although both musicians and non-musicians with dementia showed reaction times that would suggest procedural learning for repeated sequences, only musicians showed a significant difference between repeated and novel sequences, suggesting that musical training benefits procedural learning. Overall, both health older adult musicians and musicians with dementia performed faster than non-musicians on both the Serial Reaction Time Task and the Adapted Phoneme Monitoring task. However, results did not reach significance on the Adapted Phoneme Monitoring Task. The results suggest that musical training benefits procedural learning in musicians, which could have positive implications for future learning in older adults and individuals with dementia.
  • The impact of therapist self-disclosure on clients who are themselves therapists: An exploration of discourse and lived experience

    Reeves, Andrew; Swinden, Colleen (University of Chester, 2020-08-18)
    The practice of therapist self-disclosure (TSD) has been of interest to the counselling community for over 100 years. The available literature on the topic is vast. A review of the research literature indicated a need for further research employing three factors: i) the use of a concise definition of TSD; ii) research that includes the client’s perspective; and iii) a methodology that used a qualitative approach, with the underlying assumption that the lived experience of hearing TSD may be more nuanced and complex than has previously been outlined in academic literature. For this study, the definition of TSD was outlined as a statement made by the therapist that reveals something about their life outside of the therapy room. Using semi-structured interviews with eight participants who had experienced TSD, and who were also therapists themselves. The transcripts were analysed twice using a novel approach that employed a combination of interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) and discourse analysis (DA). While in IPA the emphasis is on understanding and gaining a sense of how participants describe their internal life world, by contrast in DA, the analytic emphasis is on the discursive resources used to create or construct those descriptions, and how these are mobilised by participants in terms of subject position and associated rights, duties and responsibilities of these positions. The findings were then synthesised at the post-analytical stage. Six superordinate themes emerged: i) the therapeutic relationship prior to the disclosure; ii) the disclosure content; iii) the disclosure process; iv) the short-term impact; v) the longterm impact, and vi) meaning making. Within these superordinate categories, 17 subordinate themes were identified. The DA analysis explored how, after their experiences as clients, the participants construct their own use of self-disclosure as therapists. The findings illustrated a variety of rhetorical devices that were needed to carefully manage the ethical dilemmas that can potentially accompany a therapist’s decision to disclose (or not) to their clients. These findings support extant research, but also provide fresh interpretations and many opportunities for future research.
  • An exploration of the tensions experienced by bisexual men in long-term, monogamous, mixed-orientation relationships, whose bisexuality is known to their partners: Implications for counselling

    Gubi, Peter; Neath, Michael (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2019-10)
    This research explores the tensions encountered by bisexual men who are in a long-term monogamous relationship with someone who does not identify as bisexual, in the circumstance of their bisexuality being known to their partner. It was anticipated that tensions and partner anxieties would arise from preconceptions of bisexual men, as described in the literature. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six bisexual men. The interview transcripts were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. The analysis uncovered three main themes: formative experiences; fear and longing; and the relationship. Within these themes, the participants revealed how formative experiences have left them aware that a part of them which they experience as fundamental may be met with rejection, stigma, denial, incomprehension, and misconceptions. The second theme revealed how the tension between the desire to be known and live authentically on the one hand, and the desire to be safe from rejection and stigma on the other, creates situations of living with partial disclosure, vigilance and caution, and inauthenticity. In the third theme, romantic relationships were shown to bring opportunities for being known and accepted; the possibility of rejection; further restrictions to living authentically; and the onus of answering to partner anxieties. Additionally, an incongruence was observed between participants’ averred feelings about their relationships and implicit feelings about the terms of their acceptance. The implications of the findings for counselling are considered from a person-centred perspective.
  • What Can Politics Academic Practice Learn from the Experience Politics Students Have of Expressing Their Political Views?

    D'Artrey, Meriel P. (University of Chester, 2015-11)
    The aim of the research is to identify implications for the practice of Politics academics from the experience their students have of expressing their political views. This exploratory study is set within the wider debate of power and performativity in the HE classroom. It is situated in a study of practice and perceptions in one Department at the University of Chester and conducted through a review of the literature and empirical qualitative research with both Politics students and Politics academics. The research found that while Politics students wish to express their political views, these may not be their actual political views. Politics students indicate that the Politics academic can affect their expression of political views. They prefer academics who express their own political views and they do not like politically neutral academics. They may wish to know an academic’s political views in order to gain advantage for themselves. Knowing an academic’s political views enables the student to avoid expressing political views which some Politics academics find offensive. The research highlights the part played by power and performativity in the expressing of the Politics student’s political views and identifies some of the complexities arising from this. The practice outcomes provide guidance on how Politics academics can approach the issue of the Politics student’s expression of political views. This single case study’s value lies in these contributions to wider practice. Research is identified which will explore the findings further.
  • Client Perspectives and Experiences of Congruence

    Savic-Jabrow, Pamela (University of Chester, 2015-04)
    This small scale enquiry looks at the value of Rogers’ concept of congruence from the perspectives and experiences of clients rather than those of the counsellor, as, it is the view of the author that the value of congruence is only established if it is perceived so by clients. It contributes to the debate about Rogers’ definition of congruence and offers a research informed perspective, relevant to a range of therapeutic interventions, of the nature and function of congruence in the counsellor-client relationship. The study involved me as the researcher and six participants from two cultural backgrounds who had responded to a leaflet after having experienced therapy with a qualified counsellor other than me. A pilot study was carried out followed by six semi-structured, face-to-face and telephone interviews that were transcribed and analysed using a qualitative, thematic analysis approach. A decision was made to divide participants into those who had experienced person-centred counselling and those who had experienced CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) or integrative therapy. This was not an original decision but one that was made during the study in order to compare the presence and the importance of congruence in different models of therapy. Results revealed that there were terms that were central to, related to and unrelated to Rogers’ definition of congruence. Factors that were centrally related to congruence were: connection and demeanour. Therapist facilitative factors that were tangentially related to congruence were: respect; understanding; empathy; self-disclosure; trust; body language; conveying emotion and caring. Participants also referred to non-related facets such as therapist competence. Due to the majority of codes being related to congruence, this led to the conclusion that participants held a wide definition of the concept, implied by proxy (as a substitute). Participants confirmed the value of congruence, suggesting that Rogers’ theory, that is, that therapist congruence is necessary for positive growth to occur in clients, is important in counselling (Rogers, 1957). Congruence therefore cannot be described as an outdated theory or professional ideology but as a key concept that is prized and valued in modern day therapy. This study offers an original contribution to knowledge and professional practice because it provides not professionals but clients with the opportunity to have their voices heard. It allows service-users to put into words their experiences, thereby offering a better understanding of the phenomenon of congruence. The study has therefore allowed the provision for a more empowering, research-informed counsellor-client experience. A second claim to the study being unique and a valid contribution to knowledge is that the research has a particular focus on Rogers’ definition of congruence and enquires if this is relevant for service-users as opposed to service-providers.
  • Great expectations: A qualitative examination of restorative justice practices and victim interaction

    Dutton, Kathryn; Armstrong, Jac R. B. (University of Chester, 2012-10)
    This thesis presents original empirical research concerning a restorative justice practice currently operating within England. Specifically, it examines the expectations and experiences of victims participating in a restorative practice. It establishes the extent to which victims‘ expectations may impact upon their experiences of the restorative justice process. Throughout this research, original empirical data is presented which demonstrates that victims possess a limited understanding of restorative principles and practices, which persists despite preparatory meetings. This research suggests victims place almost exclusive reliance upon gatekeepers of the process, specifically the police or restorative facilitator, in both the formation of their expectations of the process and in their decisions to participate. This thesis argues that the existence of restorative practices as complex interactionary processes enables victims to experience aspects of the process negatively, whilst continuing to view the process as beneficial. It is submitted that negative experiences can arise from an expectation-reality gap, which the preparatory meetings fail to rectify. Throughout the restorative process, this research demonstrates that victims continue to possess a punitive perspective and continue to rely upon aspects of the traditional criminal justice system and courtroom imagery. Such reliance exists in contradiction to central themes of restorative justice theory, including victim rejection of an empowered decision making role during the process, and the irrelevance of offender remorse.
  • Dyslexia and time: A comparison of speed and accuracy of young dyslexics and non-dyslexics on time recognition and time management by adult dyslexics

    Wheeler, Timothy J.; Reynolds, David; Ellis, Antony R. (University of Chester, 2013-08)
    This research describes two invesitgations into temporal processing by dyslexics. Firstly, the accuracy and speed of response that dyslexic children and matched controls demonstrate on three types of time comparison task was explored. The participants were 96 boys and 24 girls, divided into three age bands: 7:0 - 7:11; 11:0 - 11:11 and 14:0 - 14:11 years of age of whom 60 were dyslexic and 60 non-dyslexic. Dyslexics in all age bads took longer and made fewer correct responses than non-dyslexics in time telling. Younger dyslexics were differentially disadvantaged when compared to older dyslexics in speed and correctness. Both groups showed improved accuracy and speed with age. The dyslexic cohort aged 14 years improved in accuracy from age 11, though with only marginal improvement in reaction time speed. Complex time perception proved most difficult for both groups. Reason for these differences are discussed with reference to limited sort-term memory problems affecting performance especially for dyslexics. The research substantiates particular theories of dyslexia and a new model helps to explain the process. Practical implications are suggested for parents, teachers and examiners concerned with dyslexic children. Secondly, the time management skills of dyslexic and non-dyslexic adults were examined for 43 dyslexic and 41 non-dyslexic particpants who answered an online questionnaire about their time management skills. The adult questionnaires revealed that dyslexics find time management, estimation, planning and sticking to a schedule particualrly difficult, resulting in task delay or incompletion, and heightened levels of stress as time pressures increase. Questions revealed lack of confidence in time management techniques amongst dyslexics. Many dyslexics had found these difficulties placed severe contraints on career choices, areas of employment and lifestyle. Possible reasons for these diffierenecs are discussed with an accompanying model that stresses the contraints caused by poor working memory.
  • Anxiety and depression symptomatology in adult siblings of disabled individuals: The role of perceived parenting, attachment, personality traits and disability types

    Murray, Lindsay; Scott, David; O'Neill, Linda P. (University of Liverpool (University of Chester)University of Chester, 2011-11)
    Objectives: (1) To ascertain whether adult siblings of disabled individuals are more prone to anxiety and depression symptomatology than a closely matched control group. (2) To examine the contribution that perceived parenting styles, attachment styles and personality traits play in the long-term affective outcome of these siblings. (3) To consider if the type of disability has a role in sibling affective outcome. Design: A cross-sectional, closely matched study design, with data collected through self-report. One-way ANOVAs, correlational analyses, moderation and mediation analyses were applied. Participants: Adult siblings of disabled individuals (SDI), were initially contacted through support groups, such as SIBS, the Down’s Syndrome Association, the National Autistic Society and the Prader-Willi Association (UK) and responded to a postal or e-mailed questionnaire; 150 participants returned the completed questionnaire. The 150 control group participants were closely matched on the variables of gender, age, marital status and when possible socio-economic status, in order to compare like with like. This group was contacted through friends, family, work colleagues and local businesses. Measures: All the participants completed a range of demographic questions; the SDI were additionally asked questions regarding their disabled sibling. The established measures used included the Hospital and Anxiety Depression Scale (Zigmond & Snaith, 1983), Experiences in Close Relationships (Brennan, Clark & Shaver, 1998), an adapted measure of the Descriptions of Parental Caregiving Style (DPCS, Hazan & Shaver, 1986) and the International Personality Item Pool (Goldberg, 1999). Results: The majority of SDI reported no increased anxiety or depression symptomatology, however, when compared the SDI did report higher levels of anxiety and depression symptomatology than the control group; also higher levels of perceived inconsistent mothering, attachment-related anxiety and neuroticism, with lower levels of extraversion than the control group. These variables mediated the path between having a disabled sibling and anxiety and depression, with the notable exception of perceived inconsistent mothering. This variable showed no association with any of the established measures for the SDI group; however, there were associations consistent with previous research for the control group. There was no moderation effect on anxiety or depression between the demographic variables and SDI. The autistic spectrum disorder siblings reported similar levels of anxiety symptomatology to Prader-Willi siblings but higher than Down’s syndrome siblings and the control group and they also reported the highest levels of depression symptomatology. Conclusions: The adult SDI’s higher propensity towards anxiety and depression is a cause for concern; particularly when explained through heightened levels of attachment-related anxiety, high levels of neuroticism and low levels of extraversion. The lack of association with perceived inconsistent mothering requires further investigation. These results can help guide interventions or clinical therapies; the emotional well-being of SDI is paramount as they will possibly be among the first group to assume responsibility for their disabled siblings.
  • Rural livelihoods and inequality under trade liberalisation: A case study of southern Vietnam

    Degg, Martin; Boran, Anne; Zhang, Heather; Evans, Martin; Besemer, Kirsten L. (University of Liverpool (University of Chester), 2012-03)
    The purpose of this mixed-methods case study research is to discover how, in relation to trade liberalisation in Vietnam's Mekong Delta, intangible assets affect livelihood outcomes of the ethnic majority Kinh and the ethnic minority Khmer people. Methods used include a random survey of 150 ethnic majority (Kinh) rice farmers combined with focus group data from Khmer ethnic minority people. Data shows that lack of access to information about the changing economic circumstances generated by trade reform has caused farmers to take sub-optimal decisions about the diversification of their crops. The economic outcomes on Khmer farmers have also been negatively affected by a lack of information, compounded by rigid gender roles, lack of education, discrimination, language problems and isolation from the majority ethnic group. These factors have contributed considerably to the negative outcomes of liberalisation, including loss of land, and have impeded people's ability to make use of emerging opportunities, including better access to markets and new ways of making a livelihood. This research shows that intangible assets interact with trade liberalisation to exacerbate existing inequalities.
  • An incongruous duality?: Care, control & the social world of the mental health worker

    Ogden, Cassandra A.; Morley, Sharon; Mason, Tom; Smith, Catrin; Taylor, Paul J. (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2011-01)
    The contemporary mental health profession is facing a crisis of recruitment and retention. Services provided are complex, practically and conceptually. On one hand, assessments and treatments are provided, but on the other, staff become responsible for the administration of coercive security discourses and arrangements. This complex phenomenon can leave mental health personnel vulnerable to criticisms in exactly how best they should discharge their duties within an occupational remit of duality. Working in the correct or most appropriate way is a constant challenge for staff as they must meet with approval from both managers and colleagues negotiating a path between formal rules and informal norms. This exploratory study was undertaken within a mental health NHS Trust in the North of England. It interviewed twenty participants from a range of areas of work, namely hospital wards, occupational therapy departments and the community setting. A narrative interviewing technique has been used to collect occupational histories and stories which have been used in an attempt to illuminate the contemporary issues facing clinical staff. Findings suggest that their contemporary care delivery is much more complex than previously known and that there is a diverse range of background and conceptual challenges which workers face in addition to their organisationally prescribed practical mandates of work. Six normative orders of work have emerged from data that has been collected; bureaucracy, risk management, competence, morality, physical environment and care versus control. Participant reflections on professional autonomy and responsibility shed light on the perceived rationality of policies and procedures and 'governance at a distance' taking place in response to bureaucratic and risk reduction imperatives. Indeed, such work is demanding and the management of a professional 'performance', and the self regulating and adaption of emotion have been seen to be an important dimension in the observation of occupational competence and work-based socialisation processes. Furthermore, personnel are engaged in a complex and fluid role duality where they must personally reconcile their role as care provider whilst also maintaining levels of physical security in a contemporary and technologically advanced healthcare environment. In this thesis, it is argued that these normative aspects of work typify the social nature of mental health work and, in addition, take place under the auspices of Goffmanesque theorisations of the 'total institution', 'mortification of self and 'social contamination'. These findings draw particular attention to an under acknowledged aspect of mental health based inquiry where the formal and informal spheres of work are observed to co-mingle within the environment of psychiatry. In doing so, questions arise over the rationality of some systems of work which 'shop-floor' staff are engaged within, yet, at times, have very little opportunity to shape as individual practitioners.
  • Social and environmental influences on the welfare of zoo-housed spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi rufiventris)

    Schaffner, Colleen; Davis, Nicolas (University of Liverpool (University of Chester)Chester Zoo, 2009-05)
    The aim of this thesis was to provide a better understanding of the needs of spider monkeys (genus: Ateles) kept in zoological parks in order to provide an appropriate environment, which enhances the physical and emotional wellbeing of the individuals. This series of studies adopted primarily a physiological approach that entailed measuring cortisol in urine samples collected over a seven year period to assess the impact of a variety of social and environmental conditions. My studies also involved behavioural observations and a questionnaire study to collect information from other zoological parks that maintain groups of spider monkeys. In order to address the aims of my research I first validated an enzyme immunoassay for urinary cortisol which allowed for the activity of the HPA axis to be measured to assess the physiological stress responses in spider monkeys. The first study assessed the impact of visitors on spider monkeys by comparing levels of urinary cortisol collected with visitor numbers and I found an increase in visitor numbers was associated with an increase in cortisol. This was the first time the physiological impact of visitors was investigated and supports behavioural researcher that visitors adversely impact on primates in zoos. The second study I carried out involved a questionnaires to investigate frequency, direction and intensity of aggression in zoo-housed spider monkeys in 55 other zoos around the world. The pattern of aggressions reported indicated severe and lethal aggression was relatively frequent among captive spider monkeys. Adult males were the most frequent actors of aggression and sub adult males were the most frequent targets, contradicting reports from wild spider monkeys. This aggression could be a condition of the management of spider monkeys in the zoos whereby males and normally transferred between zoos contradicting reports from the wild spider monkeys in which females would emigrate on reaching maturity. Next I investigated aggression, reproductive and separation stressors in the spider monkeys housed at Chester Zoo over a seven year period and measured their effects via changes in urinary cortisol prior to, at and following each event. Aggression had the largest effect, with targets and bystanders having the highest levels of cortisol on the day of aggression for severe and lethal aggression, respectively. When examining the reproductive events, cortisol levels were significantly elevated in the mother the week prior to and the day or birth, but were highest for bystander females on the day of birth. In the case of separations, cortisol was elevated when an individual was separated for longer than 24 hours for separations and less than 24 hours for reintroductions. Finally I investigated the replacement of the breeding male in the spider monkeys at Chester Zoo. Although a significant behavioural effect was identified in the adult females, there was little evidence of an increase in urinary cortisol among them. In addition, there were no instances of aggression between the adult males and the juvenile male in the group. Overall conclusions from this study indicate that the group of spider monkeys did demonstrate a varying stress response to a variety of social and environmental stressors associated with elevated cortisol levels and behavioural changes. However, there was no evidence of long term chronic stressors which are normally associated with poor welfare. This indicated that the environmental provided for this particular group of zoo-housed spider monkeys generally allowed for the individuals within the group to cope and adapt. In light these findings the study also makes a number of recommendations regarding the enclosure design, relocated of individuals and the gradual introduction of spider monkeys in zoos. The findings of this study are important as it contributes to our understanding of the physiological responses to stressors in a zoo environment and therefore has implications for animal management. It also identifies potential species specific requirements for the spider monkey that should be considered.

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