Meet people in the School, Psychology

Introducing new academics in the School: Dr Simon Clarke

This week we meet another of the new academics in the School of Counselling and Psychology, Dr Simon Clarke.

Tell us about your interests and the area of psychology that you work in.  

I am a critical clinical psychologist with personal experience of madness and using mental health services. My main research interests are in the intersection between critical theory and madness, particularly in the use of first-person perspective methodologies in the re-telling of extreme psychological distress. I have also conducted research in the intersection between mental and physical health including chronic pain and cancer. I am an Health and Care Professions Council-registered clinical psychologist and have worked clinically in both the NHS and privately, specialising in the areas of trauma, physical health and psychosis. 

What are your current projects?

I am currently completing my PhD in madness and authenticity, due to submit in December 2019. This project is exploring the use of experiential methods, namely autoethnography, in the re-telling of what is called ‘psychosis’ or ‘schizophrenia’. There are several issues with autoethnography as a research method, including tendencies towards solipsism, a lack of engagement with (particularly critical) theory and a misuse of the concept of authenticity. My PhD is attempting to redress these issues whilst also making use of the value of first-person research methods to critically engage with the experience of madness. This includes exploring what the experience of madness, and the way it is re-told, can tell us about how as a society we respond to severe psychological distress. Another project I’ve been involved in is a project looking at intergenerational trauma between carers of adults diagnosed with schizophrenia’s and their children. This project is in collaboration with Professor Richard Bentall at the University of Sheffield and is in the early stages of development.

What were you doing before you came to the Open University?

Before working at the OU, I was  a senior lecturer in psychology at Nottingham Trent University, working mainly on programmes relating to clinical psychology and mental health. Before this, I worked in a split clinical/academic role, first as a clinical psychologist working in chronic pain services in Mansfield and as a research clinical psychologist for the Arthritis Research UK Pain Centre at the University of Nottingham, and then as a senior lecturer/academic tutor on the Trent Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Lincoln. Prior to these roles, I qualified as a clinical psychologist in 2009 from Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology, Canterbury Christ Church University, and subsequently worked for three years as a clinical psychologist in early intervention in psychosis services for Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust in London.

What are your plans for teaching and research in the School?

I am currently involved in presentation for Investigating Psychology 1 (DE100) and production for Mental Health and Counselling (D241). I am very passionate about teaching psychology in general, and mental health in particular, and am looking forward to working on these modules. I am part of the Culture and Social Psychology Research Collaboration (CuSP) in the School and I’m planning on being involved in the University’s Health and Wellbeing Priority Research Area and looking forward to building new collaborations with colleagues across the OU.

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