Meet people in the School, Psychology

Introducing new academics in the School: Dr Laura McGrath

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

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

The majority of my work to date has looked at the relationship between material space and mental health. I looked at this topic for my PhD, and have continued to pursue similar projects since then. I’m interested in the relationship between people’s environments and their experiences, in thinking about how the contexts in which we live get ‘under the skin’ and become embroiled in our personal experiences. This means that I’ve been drawn to psychosocial approaches to mental health and psychology, including critical and community psychology, as well as mainly qualitative approaches to research.

What are your current projects?

I am currently finishing two projects exploring experiences in forensic psychiatric institutions. One of these was a research project looking at the staff and patient’s experiences of the space of a newly designed psychiatric unit. At the same time, I’ve been working on an evaluation of a graffiti art project in a different forensic unit, with Ben Wakeling at the Outsider Gallery London. In both projects I’m interested in how the space of the unit is made and potentially disrupted through the relationships and activities of the people who live and work there. I am also developing a new project looking at young women’s experiences of living in supported housing for mental health.

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

I was previously at the University of East London where I led the BSc in Clinical and Community Psychology, and co-led the ‘Mental Health and Social Change’ research group in the School of Psychology. During my time at UEL I taught a range of courses, including the psychology of mental health, psychology of emotion, community psychology and evaluation, as well as research methods. While at UEL I also co-founded the national network ‘Psychologists for Social Change’, which exists to encourage psychologists to take political and social action. 

What are your plans for teaching and research in the School? [e.g. mention modules you’ll be working on/research groups etc]

I am currently working on production on D241, the new counselling and mental health module. I’m also involved in presentation on D240 and DD310. I am really excited to be joining the School and look forward to potentially collaborating with new colleagues. I have signed up to CuSP, the PRA in Health and Wellbeing as well as the Gender, Intimacies and Sexualities special interest group.  


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