I'm currently engaged in a series of projects on the theme of the philosophy of mental health. You can find out about the three main projects below.
Philosophy of Psychotherapy
I have research leave for the academic year 2023-2024, and am in the process of writing a book provisionally entitled The Nature and Value of Psychotherapy: A Philosophical Study. This work is supported by an Arts Research Fellowship awarded by the University of Nottingham.
Part of my work on the philosophy of psychotherapy is in collaboration with my colleague Joe Cunningham. In 2021-2022 we received an AHRC IAA grant to develop partnerships with local psychotherapists and psychotherapy institutes to inform our philosophical work. In 2022-2023 we received a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Small Grant to continue this work - we are currently planning CPD sessions in the philosophy of mental health for psychotherapists.
Another strand to my work in the philosophy of psychotherapy concerns so-called "conversion therapy". In 2021 my colleague Andy Fisher and I were consulted in parliamentary research on government plans to ban conversion therapy. Many psychotherapy and healthcare bodies in the UK take an appropriately negative stance towards conversion therapy. The research question I am pursuing with respect to this is whether there is anything inherent to psychotherapy that justifies this stance, or is the stance instead justified by the factors such as the harmfulness of conversion practices.
If you are interested in the philosophy of psychotherapy, and want to hear more about our work on this, please get in touch.
Philosophy of Mental Health
@ Middle Street
This project began in March 2023 with a discussion event on the myth of mental illness. It continued in the summer of 2023 with a series entitled "Let's Talk About... Philosophy of Mental Health". And from October 2023, it will continue with a regular philosophy of mental health discussion group. If you are interested in attending this group, please get in touch.
On November 14th 2023, I will be running an event on Creativity, Making Meaning, and Mental Health at the centre as part of the Being Human Festival. It will be fun and interactive, and you are more than welcome to participate!
Perception and Mental Health
Before turning to the philosophy of mental health, my main research focused on the philosophy of perception. I wrote my PhD on visual perception as a means of knowing, and in 2019 I was awarded a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship to develop my work on perception.
In recent work, I am focusing on ways in which mental health can affect perception. One example is with depersonalisation-derealisation disorder. This can involve perceptual experiences in which things seem unreal. How are we to understand such perceptual experiences? And do they challenge philosophical claims about perception which understand perceptual experience as a mode of direct contact with external reality? These are some of the questions I take up in this project.