Research and Training Articles

Below are research projects and articles that I have written.

Young Male Counsellors: Their Training Experience

This research project acknowledges the outcome of conducting research into young male’s experiences of counselling training. The area of research emerged from the personal interest of the researcher who had experienced being a young male on a counselling training course himself. The study was conducted employing the heuristic research method as described by Moustakas (1990). The researcher conducted five, one to one interviews with four male’s who had all entered counselling training under the age of 35 years and one who entered over the age of 35. In the results and findings section an individual and composite depiction of the individual’s responses are shared, the core themes from the research are explored, researcher reflexivity responses are incorporated and also a creative synthesis poem from the researcher is presented. The findings of this research identify similarities and differences between the different young males experiences of counselling training; not feeling ‘good enough’ to enter the course and being overwhelmed by female course peers, reasons for entering counselling training and approaches to assessments and assignments.

The results of this project should be disseminated widely throughout the counselling profession to offer a greater awareness of what experiences young males have on training courses, and also to encourage a debate about current training models and methods to promote a more diverse and mixed cohort to enter courses in the future.

To read the whole paper please send an enquiry to Sam through this website or email

Space Shuttle Attachment

posted on Counselling Directory on September 11th, 2013.

‘Stay buckled in and never feel the effects of zero-gravity, or unbuckle yourself and take the risk of crashing to earth!’

This analogy came to my awareness several months ago. I call it the "space shuttle attachment" and it may be of help to individuals entering new, or confused by existing, relationships.

The client and the person that they're in a relationship with can be seen as passengers on board a space shuttle that is flying through space. The client is led to imagine the moment the space shuttle reaches the distance from the earth where there is zero gravity. At this point, the client can see that they and their partner have 2 choices; they can immediately release their seatbelts and float around the space shuttle together taking risks and experiencing what it is like to be weightless (this could represent their enjoying every aspect of the relationship, dealing with both good and bad); or they may decide that, although floating around and being weightless seems really exciting, the overwhelming sense of fear of something bad happening to the shuttle - it crashing or plummeting back to earth causing hurt or injury - might be too much of a risk to take (representing the time in the relationship when things can become stagnant).

The client can also consider a further two scenarios that could take place:

The client releasing the seatbelt for the thrill of the ‘weightless’ experience, but their partner choosing to be cautious and staying fastened and safe.
The reverse of the above point - where the client remains cautious but the partner wants to enjoy risk-taking weightlessness.  

These descriptions give choices of behaviour helping the client to identify their own situation. A client may say that they are the person who released their seatbelt straight away and doesn’t care about the risks, or they may connect with the frightened and cautious individual who wants to release but is too frightened that something could happen to the shuttle and they could be harmed. The analogy also allows them to consider themselves at this moment in relation to their partner, which can be especially useful if the relationship has been going on for a period of time. By recognising their own position in the relationship and that of their partners, it is hoped they will gain new insight and a clearer understanding.

Talking to clients about relationship insecurities, attachments and dynamics can be difficult. Using the space shuttle analogy often breaks down barriers and allows the client to assume a character and therefore describe their feelings and behaviours in a more detailed way. Weightlessness opens up opportunities to discuss risks involved and why some may be reluctant to engage with it.

Young People Counselling: Identity and Independence vs Life Expectations

posted on Counselling Directory on June 5th, 2013.

It has become clear to me recently that, whilst every young person brings their own issues, dilemmas and perspectives of the world to a counselling session, there is often a similarity or commonality running through their situations. I would describe the common link between this group of clients as their struggle to find identity and independence. I titled this article "Identity and Independence vs Life Expectations" because, in my experience, it feels as though these 2 conditions/states are in conflict fighting society’s norms.

It is not unusual to hear a young person discuss their desire for a certain social status or reputation they wish their friends, parents, teachers and society would perceive them as having. This desire is often ‘played out’ by an attitude that they do not care what anyone thinks of them - how they dress, look, speak, what they achieve or apply effort to. “I don’t care what they think, it’s my life!” and “I don’t need their approval, I can do what I want!” are common phrases.

And so the battle/cycle continues. The desire to create an individual identity free of caring about friends, parents, teachers and society’s view of them may seem to be triumphant at times - and, to a young person, it can seem like the only option. By starting to behave a certain way or make a dramatic life change however, independence can quickly lead to isolation or uncertainty as society rejects their chosen persona. It is at this point that a young person is then forced to reconsider their identity, the independence this has brought and the outcomes they are experiencing; the battle resumes and shifts in power. A young person, who for weeks or months has not wanted to be a part of the family or part of a friendship group, can then feel a need to be accepted and embraced back into the fold so that the independent and isolated self can now be supported and surrounded. There can also be a huge feeling of relief experienced that they no longer have to do things independently; however this relief can induce a frustration that they are no longer viewed or seen as unique or different, and so the fight can return as a move towards being seen as distinct returns; the battle recommences.

One may often wonder - who will win in this battle, identity and independence or society? For some young people society wins; they conform to expectations; they learn to fit in with their surroundings. Whereas with others, individuality and independence is all important; the youngster rebels from the norm or they go to extremes to achieve a level of independence that fulfils their own personal needs even at a cost.

But does it have to be a battle? Can they work together; identity and independence accepted by a sympathetic, open-minded society, established and working together side by side?