Events, Open Psychology Research Centre, Psychology, Psychology in the world

Opening Psychology Launch highlights 4 – Psychological insights into professional practices

As part of the launch programme for the School’s new research centre, Dr Lee Curley discusses psychological research relevant to the Scottish court system, and Dr Gina Di Malta discusses research into the impacts of accommodating patient preferences in psychotherapy.

Attend the whole launch programme or select the events that interest you. Full details of the programme can be found here

Registration is free and now open on this link

Open Psychology Research Centre website: 

Wednesday 30th June

9.40 a.m. Informing Reform: Does the Not Proven Verdict Have a Place in a Modern Courtroom? – Dr Lee Curley

Sir Walter Scott declared the not proven verdict the bastard verdict due it its lack of legitimacy in the courtroom. The not proven verdict, like the not guilty verdict, is an acquittal verdict. In recent years, the legal utility of the Scottish three-verdict system (guilty, not guilty and not proven) has been debated, with some citing the not proven verdict as a positive as it directs jurors to their true role (i.e., to focus on the proof from the prosecution rather than on the factual guilt of the accused), whereas others highlight that the not proven verdict may play a role in the low conviction rates in rape trials in Scotland when compared to England and Wales. The current research aimed to explore the place the not proven verdict has in a modern courtroom. First, a juror decision making study found that the availability of the not proven verdict significantly decreased the amount of guilty and not guilty verdicts given. Second, a survey targeted at the attitudes of Scottish legal professionals towards the not proven verdict highlighted that the majority of them supported reform towards a binary verdict system of proven and not proven. Taken together, these two studies suggest that a change towards a proven and not proven system may direct jurors towards their true role and increase convictions relative to the current three-verdict system. An increase in guilty verdicts may bring convictions rates in Scotland in crime types such as rape to a similar level as in England and Wales.

9.50 a.m. Client Perspectives on Preferences in Psychotherapy: A Consensual Qualitative Research study – Dr Gina Di Malta

In recent years, the international psychotherapy field has seen an increasing recognition of the role that client preferences play in the psychotherapy decision-making process. Research shows that preference accommodation is associated with reduced dropout and improved outcome. Yet, processes by which this happens—and how preference accommodation can be best applied in clinical practice—have not been established. The aim of this research is to conduct the first in-depth, qualitative investigation into client experiences of, and perspectives on, preferences in therapy. Specifically, we wanted to examine (a) what clients want from therapy; (b) whether they feel that these preferences have been elicited, discussed, and accommodated in their therapy; (c) whether this matters to them; (d) what they experience as facilitating, or impeding, in this work; and (e) the impact that this has on them. Consensual qualitative research (CQR) is a well-established and rigorous inductive psychotherapy method, in which researchers work collaboratively to achieve consensus in data analysis. Thus results emerge from the data without researchers imposing pre-conceived theories on those data. We interviewed 13 clients who participated in a programme of pluralistic therapy.Data were analysed by an international team using CQR. Through this research, we want to develop guidelines for working with client preferences to support counselling and psychologist practitioners. 


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