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Manchester Institute of Education

Educational and counselling psychology

Work in this strand focuses on the application of theory and research to professional practice in psychology. The majority of the work is conducted by staff and students from the Doctorate in Educational and Child Psychology and the Doctorate in Counselling Psychology, as well as other staff and postgraduate students within EP. Our work includes research in the following core areas:

Therapy in educational settings

  • Accessible therapeutic approaches for young people: School based counselling and online therapeutic approaches
  • Therapeutic models: Motivational interviewing; Cognitive Behaviour Therapy; Pluralistic counselling; and Solution focused brief therapy
  • Educational psychology early years’ assessments
  • Mental health, psychology and therapy in Further and Higher Education

Applied psychologist education

  • Training of Counselling and Educational Psychologists
  • Supervision of practice
  • Service/role development
  • Social justice in applied psychology education

Psychology, inequality and education

  • Social justice in Counselling and Educational Psychology
  • Enacting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • Educational and psychological implications of inequality and injustice
  • Voice of the child

Developmental differences and interventions

  • Developmental motor difficulties
  • Autism spectrum conditions
  • Working memory
  • Literacy difficulties
  • Sleep difficulties

Access and participation

  • Person centred planning
  • Teacher language
  • Assessment needs

Our work involves numerous strong national and international partnerships and collaborations with external organisations, such as schools and colleges, Universities, charities and healthcare providers. As qualified and trainee practitioner psychologists we work closely with local organisations and placements providers, and work to ensure that our research has relevance for professional practice.

Projects have been funded by numerous sources including the Department for Education on the Doctorate in Educational and Child Psychology, the Higher Education Academy, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, Relate, and the Association of Educational Psychologists.

Staff and postgraduate research students within the Educational and Counselling Psychology group regularly attend and present at national and international research conferences to disseminate our work to academic audiences. We are also involved in professional practice and disseminate our work to professional audiences through involvement in organisations such as the British Psychological Society Division of Counselling Psychology, and the International School Psychology Association.

Beyond academic and professional settings we also discuss our work more broadly and consider how our work may have an impact, for example through the partnerships and collaborations described above, and we use psychology to support schools and organisations in developing learning and emotional well-being.

Funded projects

Funded educational and counselling psychology staff projects that have taken place since 2014 include (in date order):

PACT-G autism study

Funder: Medical Research Council and National Institute for Health Research

MIE lead: Neil Humphrey

Grant: £1,780,000 (£10,000 to MIE)

Duration: 2016-2018

The Paediatric Autism Communication Trial - Generalised (PACT-G) study builds upon a previous study in which PACT therapy was found to lead to significant improvements in the social communication of children with autism.

PACT involves coaching of caregivers, using video feedback, to interact with their children using strategies that facilitate communicative development. PACT-G adds new features that aim to help children generalise their communication gains into home and educational contexts.

A pilot involving 24 families took place in 2016, ahead of a randomised trial involving approximately 250 families in 2017-18.

Measuring teacher support for standardised assessment in GME

PIs: Sarah MacQuarrie, The University of Manchester, and Fiona Lyon, Educational Consultant

Duration: 2016-17

Project summary

Assessment is essential in education to gain an understanding of pupils’ progress. The introduction of new assessment orientated policy in 2016 marks a significant change in Scottish education as it will establish national testing to evaluate educational performance and attainment. The potential impact of these developments was the main focus of the project and achieved by exploring teachers’ perspectives regarding national assessment policy developments. A focus on Gaelic medium education was adopted as these teachers have had considerable autonomy given the lack of specific resources available to them for assessment and measuring pupil progress.


There is a recognised need for resources in Gaelic medium education and this includes assessment based materials. The roll out of statutory national level assessments makes this a pressing issue to consider given that little is documented in research about what GME teachers perceive about assessment and its place in the classroom.

Research process and participants

Focus groups were held during the annual conference for Gaelic medium teachers, An t-Alltan, in September 2016. At this event, teachers come together from a variety of authorities offering the researchers insight into different practice across Scotland. Thirty-one participants volunteered to take part and this allowed a range of professionals to be involved, whose breadth of experience contributed group discussions. This approach helped to gauge the different needs and perspectives of those involved within Gaelic medium education. Data was collected in a single session involving two separate group discussions with a facilitator leading each and an audio recording was made.

Findings and interpretation

Teachers and education professionals offered their insight and perceptions surrounding the introduction of the national improvement framework and considered the implications for teachers, schools and stakeholders. The broad ranging impact of the policy was discernible in the views shared by participants. Participants were keen to discuss the current climate regarding Gaelic medium education as well as more assessment specific issues linked to the implementation of national attainment assessments. There was a general consensus that the standardisation of assessments would bring a welcome consistency for Gaelic nationally in Scotland, as current practice seems to involve a more ad-hoc approach, with authorities sharing materials and assessments in an informal way; at present there is considerable variation across the 14 local authorities providing GME. Participants echoed agreement that assessment in education was valuable but cautioned for assessment to inform practice. The purpose and wider goals of the national assessments required clarification and were of particular concern.

Seeking teachers' views regarding literacy resources in Gaelic medium education

Funder: Soillse (National Gaelic Research Network) 

PIs: Sarah MacQuarrie, The University of Manchester, and Fiona Lyon, Educational Consultant

Grant: £3,000 

Duration: 2014-2015 

Project summary

Although there is a recognised and documented need for specific forms of language assessment (such as reading tests), less well understood is what teachers seek for regular use within Gaelic medium education. This project used a focus group to seek teachers’ views of literacy resources within Gaelic medium education.


There is a recognised need for support materials in Gaelic medium education (GME) (Lyon & MacQuarrie, 2014; MacLullich, 2014), in particular those aimed at supporting pupils’ literacy skills. There is an abundance of educational resources available in English, some of which can be successfully translated or adapted for use in GME. However, literacy materials are particularly vulnerable and likely to suffer from translation (unlike say materials aimed at numeracy). Thus, the aim of the study was to consider literacy resources within GME, seeking teachers’ views, which could inform future educational resources and contribute to future research. A workshop and seminar held at a conference in 2013 indicated the interest in holding such discussions with GME teachers (Lyon & MacQuarrie, 2013) and other research conducted on a national scale demonstrated teachers’ eagerness to share their experiences in order to support the development of materials being readied for use in their classrooms (Lyon & MacQuarrie, 2014).

Research process and participants

A focus group was held at the annual conference for GME teachers, An t-Alltan, in October 2014. At this annual event, teachers come together from a variety of authorities offering the researchers insight into different practice across Scotland. Seven participants volunteered to take part and this allowed a range of professionals to be involved, whose breadth of experience contributed to a group discussion.

Findings and interpretation

The study identified a number of themes. Teachers commented on the availability of literacy resources; the lack of such material was a barrier recognised to influence children’s learning in the classroom and at home. Electronic resources were flagged as a potential avenue to address such limitations. Teachers commented that developing resources for use in the classroom was a particular feature of their experience, requiring specific skills and considerable time over the school year. However, teachers also noted their hesitancy and reluctance to share materials they had developed with their colleagues. One avenue to counter this was warmly received and teachers agreed they would be responsive if a simple medium to share resources was made available but that it should also include a form of quality assurance to support teachers.

Supporting Emotional Wellbeing in Schools in the Context of Austerity: a multidisciplinary perspective

Funder: Humanities – Strategic Investment Fund, University of Manchester

PI: Terry Hanley

Grant: £10,000

Duration: 2016-2017

Schools are increasingly being asked to act as a hub for providing mental health support to young people. This project therefore focuses upon the impact of current austerity measures upon the work that secondary schools do to support the emotional wellbeing of pupils. It specifically examines:

  • what types of professionals are involved in this work
  • what activities professionals engage in to support the emotional wellbeing of pupils
  • how well supported and trained staff feel they are at offering such support
  • how staff believe their work has changed as a consequence of austerity measures.

Three secondary schools have been involved in the project as exemplar case studies. 29 staff members have been interviewed, including those employed by the schools (such as members of the senior leadership, pastoral care staff, year heads, newly qualified teachers) and those from outside organisations (such as child and adolescent mental health professionals, school counsellors, youth workers). These interviews have been analysed for commonalities and key themes.

In short:

  • The project found a wide array of professionals are supporting the emotional wellbeing of pupils in schools. There was however a perception that this pool of people was narrowing due to the current socio-political context which has led to cuts in service provision.
  • Staff in schools are offering a broad package of support services to pupils. These include whole school and more targeted initiatives (such as counselling). A large number of teaching staff reflected the importance of supporting the development of a warm facilitative learning environment in their school. Such a process commonly fell outside of what might be perceived as the discreet interventions offered by other professionals, with staff reflecting the importance of ‘being there’ for pupils at times of need.
  • Participants reported that they are undertaking more complex work supporting the emotional wellbeing of pupils. This, in part, was viewed as a consequence of the socio-political context, which includes the current austerity measures, educational reform and the recent referendum to leave the European Union. In contrast, the support and training provided to professionals was viewed as more limited. This commonly focused upon safeguarding and not the delivery of mental health provision.

As indicated above, the current climate of austerity is viewed by professionals to have changed the work that they are commonly involved in. There is a perception that the issues being encountered are more complex whilst the resources available are becoming scarcer. Teaching staff are being incredibly resourceful in the work they undertake, however they report feeling less confident and competent at responding to the more complex issues they are encountering. Such findings prove concerning and lead to the following recommendations:

  • National policy should be revised to appropriately acknowledge the significant amounts of work schools undertake to support the emotional wellbeing of pupils.
  • Senior management in schools should proactively look to support staff engaged in supporting the emotional wellbeing of pupils by providing relevant training and support (e.g. around mental health awareness, basic counselling skills and risk assessment).
  • Professionals supporting the emotional wellbeing of pupils should engage in reflexive activities such as clinical supervision.

Additional publications

Additional publications, not attached to funded projects above, since 2014 include:

Books and book chapters

Feltham, C., Hanley, T., & Winter, L.A. (Eds.) (2017) The SAGE Handbook of Counselling and Psychotherapy (4th Ed). London: Sage

Atkinson, C. & Snape, L. (in press).  What are the mechanisms for change in school-based motivational interviewing? A review of the literature. In Motivational Interviewing with Children and Young People III: Education and Community settings. Ainsdale: Positive Behaviour Management.

Atkinson, C. & Woods, K. (in press). Fidelity, integrity and quality issues in the delivery of school-based motivational interviewing. In Motivational Interviewing with Children and Young People III: Education and Community settings. Ainsdale: Positive Behaviour Management.

Manuello, M., Casey, T. & Atkinson, C. (in press).  Article 31: play, leisure and recreation.  In Nastasi, B. & Hart, S. (Eds) International Handbook on Child Rights and School Psychology. Sage: London.

Snape, L. & Atkinson, C. (in press). Facilitators and barriers to effective MI intervention in schools. In Motivational Interviewing with Children and Young People III: Education and Community settings. Ainsdale: Positive Behaviour Management.

Hanley, T. & Amos, I. (2017). The Scientist-Practitioner and the Reflective-Practitioner. In V. Galbraith (Ed.), Topics in Applied Psychology: Counselling Psychology. London: Routledge.

Hanley, T., & Noble, J. (2017). Therapy Outcomes: Is Child and Adolescent Counselling and Therapy Effective? In N. Midgley, M. Cooper, & J. Hayes (Eds.), Essential Research Findings in Child and Adolescent Counselling and Psychotherapy: The Facts are Friendly. London: Sage.

Hanley, T., Noble, J., & Toor, N. (2017). Policy, policy research on school-based counseling in United Kingdom. In J. Carey, B. Harris, S. M. Lee, & J. Mushaandja (Eds.), International Handbook for Policy Research in School-Based Counseling. Switzerland: Springer.

Hanley, T., Winter, L., McLeod, J., & Cooper, M. (2017). Pluralistic Counselling Psychology. In. D. Murphy (Ed.) Counselling Psychology: A textbook for study and practice. (pp. 134-149). West Sussex: BPS Wiley

Hanley, T., Scott, A.S. & Winter, L.A. (2016). Humanistic approaches and pluralism. In M. Cooper & W. Dryden. The Handbook of Pluralistic Counselling and Psychotherapy. London: Sage

Hanley, T. & Winter, L.A. (2016) Research and pluralism. In M. Cooper & W. Dryden. The Handbook of Pluralistic Counselling and Psychotherapy. London: Sage

Winter, L.A., Guo, F., Wilk,K. & Hanley, T. (2016). Difference and diversity in pluralistic therapy. In M. Cooper & W. Dryden. The Handbook of Pluralistic Counselling and Psychotherapy. London: Sage

Hanley, T. & Winter, L.A. (2015). Research in counselling and psychotherapy. In S. Palmer (Ed.) Counselling and Psychotherapy: The essential guide (2nd Ed). London: Sage.

Humphrey, N., Bond, C., Hebron, J., Symes, W. & Morewood  (2015) Key perspectives and themes in Autism Education. In Humphrey, N. (Eds) Autism and Education Volume 1. London; Sage.

Humphrey, N., Bond, C., Hebron, J., Symes, W. & Morewood (2015) Peer relationships among learners with autism in the education context. In Humphrey, N. (Eds) Autism and Education Volume 2. London; Sage.

Humphrey, N., Bond, C., Hebron, J., Symes, W. & Morewood (2015) School, teaching and support staff issues in autism education. In Humphrey, N. (Eds) Autism and Education Volume 3. London; Sage.

Humphrey, N., Bond, C., Hebron, J., Symes, W. & Morewood (2015) Improving experiences and outcomes of education for learners with ASC. In Humphrey, N. (Eds) Autism and Education Volume 4. London; Sage.

Pattison, S., Hanley, T., Pykhtina, O. & Ersahin, Z. (2015). Extending Practice: New horizons and contexts. In M. Robson & S. Pattison. (Eds). The Sage Handbook for Counselling Children and Young People. London: Sage, 427-441

Journal articles

Atkinson, C., Bond, C., Goodhall, N. & Woods, F. (in press) Children’s access to their right to play: Findings from two exploratory studies.  Educational and Child Psychology 34(3)

Fayette, R. & Bond, C. (in press) A qualitative study of specialist schools’ processes of eliciting the views of young people with Autism Spectrum Disorders in planning their transition to adulthood. British Journal of Special Education

Robinson, L., Bond, C. & Oldfield, J. (in press) A UK and Ireland survey of Educational Psychologists’ intervention practices for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Educational Psychology in Practice

Robinson, L. & Bond, C. (in press) A cross-national review of evidence-based psychosocial treatments for children and adolescents with autistic spectrum disorders in the UK, Ireland, and United States. Psychology in the Schools.

Skelton, R. & Atkinson, C. (in press) Increasing Children’s Working Memory Capacity in Schools: Promising Findings from a Collaborative Card-Based Programme. Educational Psychology Research and Practice.

Winter, L.A. (accepted for publication). Relational equality in education: what, why and how? Oxford Review of Education

Atkinson, C., Bond, C., Goodhall, N. & Woods, F. (2017). Children’s access to their Right to Play: findings from two exploratory studies. Educational and Child Psychology, 34(3), 21-37

Atkinson C. & Woods, K. (2017). Motivational interviewing from a practitioners’ perspective: a therapy in need of theoretical and practical stability? Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 45(4), 337-350.

Burman, E., Greenstein, A., Bragg, J., Hanley, T., Kalambouka, A., Lupton, R., McCoy, L., Sapin, K. & Winter, L. (2017).Subjects of, or subject to, policy reform? A foucauldian discourse analysis of regulation and resistance in UK narratives of educational impacts of welfare cuts: the case of the ‘bedroom tax’, Education Policy Analysis Archives, 25(26).

Cockroft, C. & Atkinson, C. (2017). The effectiveness of affective literacy interventions for adolescents: a review of the literature. Educational Psychology Research and Practice 3(1), 29-49.

Cockcroft, C. & Atkinson, C. (2017) “I just find it boring!” Affective intervention to promote reading engagement and motivation.  Support for Learning. doi: 10.1111/1467-9604.12147.

Dunsmuir, S., Atkinson, C., Lang, J., Warhurst, A. & Wright, S. (2017). Objective Structured Professional Assessments for trainee educational psychologists: an evaluation. Educational Psychology in Practice.

Ersahin, Z. & Hanley, T. (2017). Using text-based synchronous chat to offer therapeutic support to students: A systematic review of the research literature, Health Education Journal, 76(5), 531-543.

Ezzamel, N. & Bond, C. (2017). The use of a peer mediated intervention for a pupil with autism spectrum disorder: pupil, peer and staff perceptions. Educational and Child Psychology 34(2) 27-39.

Fayette, R. & Bond, C. (2017). A systematic literature review of qualitative research methods for eliciting the views of young people with ASD about their educational experiences. European Journal of Special Needs Education. Online.

Hanley, T. (2017). Supporting the emotional labour associated with teaching: considering a pluralistic approach to supervision. Pastoral Care in Education: An International Journal of Personal, Social and Emotional Development, 1-14.

Jones, G. & Hanley, T. (2017). The psychological health and well-being experiences of female military veterans: a systematic review of the qualitative literature. Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps. doi: 10.1136/jramc-2016-000705.

Maciagowska, K. E., & Hanley, T. (2017). What is known about mental health needs of the post-European Union accession Polish immigrants in the UK? A systematic review. International Journal of Culture and Mental Health, 1–16.

Prescott, J., Hanley, T. & Ujhelyi, K. (2017). Peer communication in online mental health forums of young people. Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Schulze, J., Winter, L., Woods, K. & Tyldesley, K. (2017). Investigating the significance of social justice in educational psychology practice – A systematic literature review. Educational and Child Psychology, 34(3), 58-74.

Snape, L. & Atkinson, C. (2017). Students’ views on the effectiveness of motivational interviewing for challenging disaffection. Educational Psychology in Practice. doi: 10.1080/02667363.2017.1287059. Published online 28.02.17.

Thomas, G. & Atkinson, C. (2017). Pupil and staff views about a school-based mindfulness intervention. Educational Psychology in Practice. doi: 10.1080/02667363.2017.1292396. Published online 28.02.17.

Ezzamel, N. & Bond, C. (2016) How have target pupil, peer and school level outcomes related to Peer-Mediated Interventions for pupils with ASD been evaluated? European Journal of Special Needs Education, 31(4),  440-457.

Gibbs, S., Atkinson, c., Woods, K., Bond, C., Hill, V. & Morris, S., (2016) Supervision for School Psychologists in Training: developing a framework from empirical findings, School Psychology International, 37(4), 410–431.

Hanley, T., Ersahin, Z. & Hebron, J. (2016) Comparing Online and Face-to-Face Student Counselling: What Therapeutic Goals Are Identified and What Are the Implications for Educational Providers? Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools, 120 (3), 37-54

Lodal, K. & Bond, C. (2016) The relationship between motor skills difficulties and self-esteem in children and adolescents: A systematic literature review. Educational Psychology in Practice, 32(4), 410-423.

 Mangan, D. & Winter, L.A. (2016). (In)validation and (mis)recognition in Higher Education: the experiences of students from refugee backgrounds. International Journal of Lifelong Education, DOI: 10.1080/02601370.2017.1287131

McDermott, H. & Atkinson, C. (2016). Routes for Learning: professionals’ implementation of the approach in supporting children with profound and multiple learning difficulties. The SLD Experience, 73, 10-17.

Snape, L. & Atkinson, C. (2016) The evidence for student-focused motivational interviewing in educational settings: a review of the literature. Advances in School Mental Health Promotion, 9(2), 119-139.doi: 10.1080/1754730X.2016.1157027.

Thomas, G. & Atkinson, C. (2016) The effectiveness of a mindfulness-based intervention for children’s attentional functioning.  Educational and Child Psychology, 33(1), 51-64.

Toor, N., Hanley, T. & Hebron, J. (2016). The Facilitators, Obstacles and Needs of Individuals With Autism Spectrum Conditions Accessing Further and Higher Education: A Systematic Review. Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools, 26 (2), 166-190.

Winter, L.A., Burman, E., Hanley, T., Kalambouka, A. & McCoy, L. (2016). Education, Welfare Reform and Psychological Wellbeing: A Critical Psychology Perspective. British Journal of Educational Studies, DOI: 10.1080/00071005.2016.1171823

Atkinson, C., Dunsmuir, S., Lang, J & Wright, S. (2015) Developing a competency framework for the initial training of educational psychologists working with young people aged 16-25.  Educational Psychology in Practice, 31(2), 159-173. doi: 10.1080/02667363.2015.1004038.

Cartmell, H. & Bond, C. (2015). What does belonging mean for young people who are International New Arrivals?  Educational and Child Psychology 32(2), 89-101.

Cockroft, C & Atkinson, C. (2015). Using the Wider Pedagogical Role model to establish Learning Support Assistants’ views about facilitators and barriers to effective practice. Support for Learning, 30(2):88-104. doi: 10.1111/1467-9604.12081.

Cryer, S., & Atkinson, C. (2015). Exploring the use of motivational interviewing with a disengaged primary aged child. Educational Psychology in Practice, 31(1), 56-72doi:10.1080/02667363.2014.988326.

Dunsmuir, S., Atkinson, C. & Wright, S. (2015). Use of Delphi methodology to define competencies in professional training.  Assessment and Development Matters, 7(1), 22-25.

Hill, V., Bond. C., Atkinson, C., Woods, K., Gibbs, S., Howe, J. & Morris, S. (2015). Developing as a practitioner: How supervision supports the learning and development of trainee educational psychologists in three-year doctoral training. Educational and Child Psychology 32(3), 118-130.

Snape, L. & Atkinson, C. (2015). The effectiveness of a motivational interviewing intervention for pupil disaffection: implications from exploratory mixed methods research.  Pastoral Care in Education, 33(2), 69-82. doi: 10.1080/02643944.2015.1022207.

Winter, L.A. & Hanley, T. (2015) “Unless everyone’s covert guerilla-like social justice practitioners…”: A preliminary study exploring social justice in UK counselling psychology. Counselling Psychology Review, 30(2), 32-46

Winter, L.A. (2015). The presence of social justice principles within professional and ethical guidelines in international psychology. Psychotherapy and Politics International, 13(1), 55-66.

Woods, K., Atkinson, C., Bond. C., Gibbs, S., Morris, S. &. Hill, V. (2015) Practice Placement Experiences and Needs of Trainee Educational Psychologists in England. International Journal of School and Educational Psychology, 3(2), 85-96.