Counselling, Psychotherapy and Applied Social Sciences

Gender, sexuality and the body

The ways in which the development of gender and sexual identities are represented and experienced throughout the life course are key areas for therapeutic work and important processes in therapeutic relating.

How these identities are held and expressed in the body are also significant in experiencing the self in relationship. Our research in this area engages with questions about the social construction of masculinity and femininity, about aspects of intimacy in personal relationships and in therapeutic relating. The subtleties of power as it is exercised and experienced form a central theme in these explorations.

Gender relationships

Drawing on personal and professional experiences, our research is informed by a broad range of sociological and gender theories and psychoanalytic and humanistic perspectives. The complex ways in which genders and sexualities emerge and are worked with in the counselling room are explored in a variety of ways. Studies consider specific aspects of the way in which the confluence of power, genders and sexualities arise in the therapeutic relationship, in the person of both counsellor and client and in the dynamic between them.


The client and the counsellor as sexual beings informs our approach to research in this area. The power of sexuality in counselling and psychotherapy is addressed with particular attention to its representation in client issues and concerns. The formation of sexual identity and its fluidity is understood as social process and accomplishment. The therapist’s sexuality is regarded as an essential, if usually unacknowledged, component in the formation of a therapeutic alliance and relationship.

Specific research concerns

The process of counselling in relation to the intersection of sexual violence, gender relations and power, gender, sexuality and difference, gender and sexuality through the life course and intercultural difference are represented in research currently undertaken.


A list of current and archived research projects undertaken by staff under this theme.


Academic staff who work and study within this research theme.