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Personal profile

Personal Statement

I am a Lecturer in Autism in the School of Education with an expertise in emotional processing and trauma. I am a developmental psychologist specialising in psychotherapy with a humanistic-experiential orientation. My research, teaching and knowledge exchange has an emphasis on emotional wellbeing, reducing social exclusion and trauma through a positive psychologic lens. I have a PhD in Counselling and Psychotherapy: 'Enhancing Emotional Processing in Emotion-Focused Therapy for Clients with Autistic Process.' This research received the Outstanding Research Award by The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (2017). Collaborative research partnerships with Scottish Autism and HOPE for Autism are ongoing, researching further the process and outcome of Emotion-Focused Therapy for clients with autistic process. 

My research focus is two-fold: first, exploring humanistic-experiential psychotherapies (HEPs) and affective technology in understanding emotional processing in autistic youth and adults and second, exploring the impact of training teachers, practitioners and parents in emotion-focused coaching and counselling skills in enhancing their empathic attunement and interpersonal relations with autistic people.

I welcome opportunities to work collaboratively.

Prior to joining the University I was the lead of Autism Expertise and Knowledge Exchange for Scottish Autism. I was a member of the Senior Management Team responsible for the design of the first Autism School in Scotland (New Struan School: A Centre for Autism) and an author for the original 'The Autism Toolbox: A Resource for Scottish Schools'.

I have established and lead the TLC Network. This group brings together interdisciplinary practitioner researchers with an interest in understanding Trauma through Lived experience which is healing Centred. 

Internal positions: 

2010 -2019: Course Leader for the MSc in Autism

2019/20 - Lead for the EdD (Autism) and PhD in Applied Autism Research 

2022/23 - Course Leader for the Post Graduate Certificate (PgCert) in Emotion-Focused Counselling Skills for Autistic Process 

External positions:

Liverpool John Moore University: External Examiner for the MA Counselling & Psychotherapy

University of Swansea: External Examiner for the MSc Autism & Related Conditions

Centre for Practice Innovation, Scottish Autism: Research Associate

AT-Autism, International Autism Consultancy: Consultant Associate

Committee Member:

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion: Executive Committee Member

Scottish Autism Research Group (SARG): Committee Member 

I am a member of the British Psychological Society, British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy, Society for Psychotherapy Research and the International Society for Emotion-Focused Therapy. 

Expertise & Capabilities

  • Emotional Processing
  • Humanistic-Experiential Psychotherapies (HEPs) 
  • Counselling clients with autistic process
  • Research using expressive/creative methods and affective technology
  • Emotion-Focused Counselling/Coaching Skills: parents, teachers, practitioners
  • Trauma-related experiences and Trauma Informed Practice

Teaching Interests

I am a Lecturer in Autism with a teaching focus around emotion, affective theories, factors that contribute to social exclusion, trauma and how to promote positive psychological growth. I predominantly teach Emotion-Focused Counselling Skills for Autism Spectrum and for other hard to reach populations. 

I supervise Masters/EdD and PhD research that aligns with my own research interests: Emotion-Focused Counselling Skills including pre-therapy and the impact this training has on practitioner relational dynamics. As well as factors that contribute to painful and tramua-related experiences and the use of creative methods to support self-expression and how this can help in healing emotional injuries. 

I supervise PhD in Applied Autism Research /EdD Education (Autism) and would be interested to discuss research proposals that align with my own research interests. 

Research Interests

My research mainly focuses on Humanistic-Experiential Autism Research Technology (HEART) with a particular emphasis on exploring emotional processing, trauma-related experiences, and psychological growth. I have particular interest on process and outcome research in Humanistic-Experiential Psychotherapies (HEPs) for clients with autistic process. This includes accessibility of counselling, group psychotherapy and the use of expressive and creative arts to explore emotional experiences, self and other intersubjectivity. I am interested in giving voice to clients’ experiences and use creative methods and affective technology to aid those who have difficulties speaking, exploring non-verbal strategies of expression and narration. 

PhD Students: 


  • Micaela Jimenez Borja (Ecuador PhD Scholarship, 2013-2016) On Measuring client modes of engagement in humanistic experiential psychotherapy (with Professor Robert Elliott)

 I currently supervise the following doctoral students:

  • Elise, Stirling (Applied Autism Research, 2021 -) On Exploration of attachment play and teacher relationships for the successful inclusion of autistic children in education (with Dr Claire Wilson)
  • Christine, Sousa Marmoy (Applied Autism Research, 2020 -) On Sensing the Meaning: Visual conceptualisation underlying sensory experiences in autistic young people (with Dr Katja Frimberger) 
  • Mert Ozakca (Turkey PhD Scholarship, 2019-2022) On A Cross-Cultural Analysis Exploring Emotion-Focused Parent Coaching in enhancing emotional resilience in Autstic Children and Families (with Dr Eugenie Samier)
  • Charlotte Wilson (Social Work, 2019 -) On Adjusting the Volume: Reflecting Young People's Experiences of Secure care (with Dr Laura Steckley)
  • Gillian McConnell (Education, 2020 -) On Epilepsy, Autism and Learning Disability (with Dr Helen Marwick)
  • Owen McGill (Education, 2017-) On Autistic Girls and Early Education: Investigating Identity and Experiences Through A Feminist Standpoint Lens (with Professor Yvette Taylor)

EdD Students:

  • Lynn McNally (2021) On A Celebration of Autistic Ingenuity (with Dr Zinnia Mevalla)
  • Kerrie Highcock (2021) On  the school I want: an autistic youth participatory study (with Dr Yuchen Wang)
  • Denise Currie (2021) On Not getting it right for every chid: an exploration of autistic learners experiences of exams (with Dr Claire Wilson)
  • David Duncan (2019-) On Capturing the voice of bereaved children through a participatory and arts based approach (with Dr Sally Paul)

PhD/EdD Recruitment:

Please contact me if you would like to pursue a PhD in Applied Autism Research or PhD/EdD in Education, with focus on areas related to: 

  • Promoting positive outcomes in the lives of people with autistic process through Humanistic-Experiential practice;
  • Emotional Processing;
  • Trauma-Informed Practice;
  • Therapeutic/creative/expressive methods to enhance relational connections; 
  • Emotion-Focused and HEPs skills training: parents, teachers and practitioners; 
  • Affective technology for supporting emotional healing and psychological growth;


As the lead of WE:FOCUS we are conducting research in the following areas:

  • Positive therapeutic approaches to healing trauma and emotional injuries 
  • Training Parents, Teachers and Practitioners in Emotion-Focused Counselling/Coaching Skills
  • Emotion-Focused Group Therapy for clients with autistic process

We have collaborative research partnerships with Scottish Autism and HOPE for Autism; AT-Autism and Donaldson School.

International collaborators: Universidad Autónoma de Chile; Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador.


Selected Masters Supervision (Alumni): 

  • Anna, Stopinska-Lewucha (MEd 2021) "My Child is a Happy Flapper": Parents celebration of happiness in autistic children 
  • Christine, Sousa Marmoy (MSc 2020) The World I Sense is the World I Live in!
  • Highcock, Kerrie (MEd 2019) on Young Autistic Activists Use of Art for Self-Expression 
  • Friedman, Samantha (USA Fulbright Scholarship MSc 2019) on Exploring Outdoor Learning Environments on Emotional Processing Skills in Students with Autism
  • Yong, Ennie (Chevening Scholarship MSc 2019) on Developing an Emotion-Focused Skills Training for Parents from Experiences of Expert Trainers 
  • Galbraith, Ian (MSc 2018) Practitioners Experiences of Applying Person-Centred and Pre-Therapy Counselling Skills with Clients with Autistic Process
  • Owen, McGill (MSc 2017) Autistic Adult Reflections of Applied Behavioural Analysis Experiences in Childhood: A Thematic Analysis
  • Christina Symeonidou (MSc 2017) An Investigation into the effectiveness of nurture groups in supporting autistic children: A Scottish teacher’s perspective

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities


  • Humanistic-Experiential Psychotherapy
  • Emotion
  • Trauma
  • Empathy
  • Autism
  • Embodiment
  • Sense Making
  • Meaning creation


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