I am deeply interested in the nature of mind, particularly its relationship with emotional life and wellbeing. This fascination stems from several years spent working in mental health and social care services, and developed a more academic form during my undergraduate studies in psychology at the University of Sussex. There, I started to wonder about how affectivity shapes the way we experience ourselves and the world in conscious and unconscious ways, and how this relates to mental health.
I found the potential for psychological science to inform therapeutic practice exciting and inspiring. What struck me, though, was that whilst the experimental approaches I studied necessarily broke the mind down into precise processes, complementary work that put the whole person back together again was rare. This seemed important for connecting findings from experimental psychology to clinical practice, so I became interested in finding richer, rigorous ways to scientifically study emotion and affective consciousness.
To deepen my understanding of the research process and this field, I worked in a series of research posts on translational projects after my degree. These primarily investigated cognition-emotion interactions, and included work on mood and prospective memory, cognitive bias modification and the structure of autobiographical memory in depression. These roles culminated in an NHS research associate post on a clinical trial investigating collaborative care for treatment-resistant depression, at which time I was also affiliated to Professor Tim Dalgleish’s research group at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit. Under his supervision I developed a novel intervention for depression based on autobiographical memory processes (MemFlex), which is currently being tested.
Since joining the University of Exeter as an associate research fellow, I have focused on developing skills in phenomenological methods to complement my training in experimental psychology. This allows me to investigate the qualities of emotion experience alongside more established experimental techniques. Initially I conducted pilot work on the phenomenology of emotion in the philosophy department, before completing an MSc in psychological research methods. My dissertation explored transformation in the experience of sadness following mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. My doctoral research brings together these academic interests and my personal practice of meditation in investigating how mindfulness meditation influences emotion using mixed methods.
Emotion can be studied from a multitude of academic perspectives, and I love to think and work across conventional disciplinary boundaries. My own perspective has been vastly enriched and expanded through collaborations with colleagues in the arts, philosophy and community mental health organisations, and I hope that interdisciplinary collaboration will continue to be part of my research life in the future.
Broad research specialisms:
- Mindfulness meditation.
- Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.
- Virtual reality.
- Phenomenology and neurophenomenology.
- Philosophy of mind.
- Mixed-methods and interdisciplinary research.
BSc (Hons) Psychology (first class).
MSc Psychological Research Methods (distinction; Dean’s Commendation).