This week we introduce another of the new academics in the School, Dr Gina Di Malta, Lecturer in Counselling and Psychotherapy.
Tell us about your interests and the area of psychology that you work in.
My area of work is counselling psychology, an approach to psychology practice which is based on humanistic philosophy and values. My research interests are focused on improving psychotherapy and counselling for clients. I aim to do this primarily by enquiring about clients’ perspectives and experiences of psychological treatment. More recently, I’ve also become interested in psychological interventions which can add value in the current context. In particular, I’ve been looking at how new systems can impact perceptions of mental health and incur societal changes.
What are your current projects?
I’m collaborating on several research projects and some prospective projects too. I’m involved in psychotherapy research to study processes of therapeutic goals, clients’ preferences for therapy, relational depth and the therapeutic relationship. We’re looking at how processes like these could impact on the outcomes of therapy. I like to use a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods to test this more broadly. I’m also involved in research aimed at evaluating new methodologies.
What were you doing before you came to the Open University?
Before I came to the Open University, I worked for two years as a research associate at one of the University of Roehampton’s research hubs—the Centre for Research in Social and Psychological Transformation (CREST). I collaborated on projects and coordinated the CREST clinic, supporting data collection and students on training placements.
As well as my continuous involvement in research, I also worked as a Counselling Psychologist in private, charity and NHS settings. Most recently, I provided person-centred counselling and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for chronic end stage renal disease patients at Guys and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust.
Over the last 3 years, I’ve gained teaching experience working on different modules on Counselling Psychology Doctoral programmes at the New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling, the University of Roehampton, and City University.
What are your plans for teaching and research in the School?
I’m involved in the production of the new D241 module: Exploring Mental Health and Counselling. More specifically, I’ll be working with colleagues on the design and structure of Block 3: The different schools of thought. I’m particularly looking forward to making a contribution to the Pluralistic and Humanistic models which are approaches I’ve practiced in, and focused aspects of my research. Later in the year I’ll be involved in teaching on DD310 Counselling and Forensic Psychology: Investigating Crime and Therapy. As a different part of my work, I’ll be co-editing the new edition of the Handbook of Person-Centred Counselling and Psychotherapy with person-centred colleagues.
OU collaborators at the School of Psychology have been setting up a new research group in Counselling and Mental Health. This group will provide a platform to enable research synergies in our field. In the new year, I plan to focus my efforts in obtaining funding for the development of a research project—the evaluation of a novel community mental health intervention, Talk for Health (T4H). The intervention has the potential to widen access to mental health services.
You can read more about Dr Gina Di Malta’s work here http://fass.open.ac.uk/people/gm9999