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I graduated from the University of Hull in 1983 and went on to work as a careers adviser with Hampshire County Council. Following that I moved to London where I joined the University of East London as a careers counsellor, moving from there to South Bank University as Senior Lecturer on the Postgraduate Diploma in Careers Guidance. I also worked as a counsellor with young people within the voluntary sector and gained some experience as a consultant and trainer with a range of organisations.
On moving north in 1997 I broadened my experience via roles in adult guidance and lecturing in occupational psychology and joined the University of Huddersfield in 2007 as Senior Lecturer and Course Leader for Counselling Studies. My brief at that time was to develop a new undergraduate degree in Counselling Studies which recruited its first cohort in September of that year. Since then the course has increased its numbers and has an excellent employment record. I have also worked for CRUSE providing support to bereaved clients. In a drive to offer students mentoring accreditation on top of their BSc qualification, I am now involved in developing a new Counselling and Mentoring degree to replace the Counselling Studies degree from 2016. I also contribute to the Psychology degree.
Research and Scholarship
My previous research has focused on the impact of student/tutor working relationships on the quality of the learning experience on counselling training courses. Initially I focused on the student perspective, finding that there were a number of qualities and relational factors which students particularly valued in their tutors and which they considered to significantly enhance their learning. I then investigated the tutor perspective, which identified some similarities with, and some interesting differences from, the student perspective.
My present research focuses on existential therapists’ perspectives on how they use existential philosophy in their therapeutic practice. It has so far highlighted some of the difficulties and conflicts involved in translating theory into practice.
University research group memberships
I am a member of the Centre for Applied Psychological and Health Research.
Publications and Other Research Outputs
Smith, V., Leeming, D. and Burr, V. (2016) ‘Philosophy and identity: the relationship between choice of existential orientation and therapists sense of self’ Existential Analysis . ISSN 1752-5616
Smith, V., Collard, P., Nicolson, P. and Bayne, R. (2012) Key Concepts in Counselling and Psychotherapy: A critical A-Z Guide. . Maidenhead: McGraw Hill Education. ISBN 9780335242214
Smith, V (2012) ‘It aint what you do its the way that you do it: the tutor perspective on the impact of the student / tutor alliance on student wellness and the quality of the learning experience in UK counselling training.’. In: Health and Wellness 2012, 18th-21st March 2012, Orlando, FL, USA
Smith, V (2011) ‘It's the relationship that matters: a qualitative analysis of the role of the student/tutor relationship in counselling training’ Counselling Psychology Quarterly , 24 (3), pp. 233-246. ISSN 0951-5070
Smith, V (2011) ‘Its the relationship that matters: a qualitative analysis of the role of the student/tutor relationship in counselling and psychotherapy training in the UK.’. In: 14th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Theoretical Psychology, 27th June - 1st July 2011, Thessaloniki, Greece
Smith, V (2011) ‘It's the relationship that matters: a qualitative analysis of the role of the student/tutor relationship in counselling training’. In: 17th Annual BACP Research Conference, 6-7 May 2011, Liverpool Marriott Hotel City Centre
Smith, V (2011) ‘It's the relationship that matters: a qualitative analysis of the role of the student/tutor relationship in counselling training’. In: Health, Wellness and Society Inaugural International Conference, 20-22 January 2011, University of California at Berkeley, San Francisco, USA. , pp. 1-30
Smith, V (2010) ‘The power of relational work in existential therapy’. In: BACP's 20th Annual Research Conference: "Researching the Special Relationship", 16th-17th May 2014, London, UK
I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a member of the BPS and the BACP and am also on the BACP register and possess the certificate of proficiency to practice as a counsellor. I am a reviewer for 'Counselling Psychology Quarterly' and perform training and consultancy work for a range of organisations on subjects such as assertiveness, time management, team building and interview techniques.
Research Degree Supervision
I am presently supervising the following full-time PhD student: Anna Fry: Thesis Title: “We’re here, we’re queer, we don’t drink beer: The intersections of gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity, religiosity and lesbian and bisexual women and the implications for mental health care”.
Other areas of interest include: the impact of student/tutor relationships on learning; factors which affect the quality of the HE learning experience; most subjects related to counselling and psychotherapy -but particularly existential counselling and the relationship between counselling theory and practice- and subjects relating to careers counselling and occupational psychology.
I have undertaken training and consultancy projects for a range of organisations.
Teaching and Professional Activities
I am presently module leader for the following modules:
- HFK2001 Introducing Counselling Skills and Theory (a 40 credit module taught on BSc (Hons) Psychology with Counselling and BSc (Hons) Counselling Studies.
- HIK2002 Planning for Career Success (a Counselling Studies module).
I also contribute to HIK1013 (Advancing Counselling Skills); HFB2000 (Perspectives in Psychology) and HFB2007 (Concepts in Psychology). I supervise third year dissertation students on the Critical Study module (HHK1014 ) and PhD supervision as detailed above.