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Introducing a new lecturer in the School of Psychology & Counselling, Dr Tanya Beetham.

Dr Tanya Beetham joins the School as a Lecturer in Psychology and Counselling. We asked her about her work. 

What are your academic/psychology interests?

I’m a chartered psychologist, counsellor and psychotherapist, and my interests include trauma, social justice and inequalities, gender-based violence, and eating disorders/eating distress.

I have worked on several research projects including exploring services and/or programmes for those experiencing domestic abuse, perinatal mental health difficulties, child sexual exploitation, child trafficking, and children and young people who are care experienced. I’m particularly interested in domestic abuse, especially childhood and young adult experiences of domestic abuse, how people navigate transitions, and reflexive feminist methodologies that centre victim-survivor voices and stories and attend to personal-socio-political intersections. For my PhD research, I used a feminist narrative methodology to explore women’s transitions to young adulthood after experiencing domestic abuse in childhood.

In my counselling and psychotherapy practice, I integrate humanistic, feminist, compassion-focused, and mindfulness approaches. I’m interested in power-sensitive practice which attends to the broader socio-structural conditions which experiences of distress are located within. I’m also proud to be a committee member of the BPS Psychology of Women and Equalities Section.

What aspects of your academic work do you find particularly enjoyable and/or rewarding?

I particularly enjoy collaborating with colleagues on research projects and writing. I also enjoy supervising research students and I find it rewarding to support students develop their own research interests and academic voice. I see knowledge as very much co-produced, and I enjoy the collaborative and creative process of that.

What position have you taken up in the School? What will that involve?

I’ve taken up a position as a Lecturer in Psychology and Counselling. I am currently working on developing some new short counselling courses, I am working in the production team of a new module, D120, Encountering Psychology in Context, and in the presentation team of D241, Exploring Mental Health and Counselling. Alongside these modules and courses, I am currently working on several research projects. This includes work with the Intersectional Violences Research Group on violence-related research such as women’s sense of safety with the police, the use of safety apps, and more broadly how feminist psychology can help us to understand and address issues surrounding violence. I am also currently working on a research project exploring how people with experience of eating disorders are impacted by the new government initiative to have calories on menus. In addition to this, I recently signed a book contract with Dr Sandra Engstrom at Stirling University. We will be spending the next year working on an edited book that brings together lived experience ‘eating disorder voices’ from a critical, intersectional and feminist perspective.  

How does it build on (or differ from) what you were doing previously?

My previous role was Lecturing in Psychology at Teesside University, so whilst the focus of my teaching and curriculum development will look different, much of my research and projects are ongoing. I look forward to building on existing collaborations and forming new ones as I go.

How do you see your research fit within the Open Psychology Research Centre (OPRC)?

I have joined the Psychology and Health and Wellbeing research cluster, as well as the Culture and Social Psychology research strand. I look forward to exploring how my research fits within both; my work is quite varied, and may indeed complement both groups, particularly coming from both a practitioner and academic perspective.

What advice would you give to psychology students who would like to follow a similar career path?

I find this a tricky question to answer! My own experience was, and continues to be, quite organic, in that I did not have a career plan or set path. I actually first went to university to study dance, and I spent a few years away from studying before I came back to do my undergraduate degree! My advice is to follow what sparks an interest in you, and trust that your path will evolve. Psychology can be a tricky field to navigate. Use the support and advice of people you trust, but no one knows you better than you know yourself. In terms of choosing a counselling or psychotherapy training, as best you can, choose a modality that fits for you, and do your research about the course! As for a PhD – my best advice is choose supervisors that you feel you can work well with, and try to ensure your research is something you are genuinely interested in. It’s a commitment!

What are your interests outside work?

I enjoy spending time with friends and family, travelling, getting outdoors and walking, hiking or swimming. I enjoy practising and teaching yoga and love to share this practice with others. In all honesty, I love nothing more than getting a cosy afternoon at home with my cat, a good book, and a great coffee. If I am feeling adventurous, I am known for good trips to the coast or the mountains and practicing my photography skills.

Dr Tanya Beetham was in conversation with Sue Cocklin – OPRC Centre Assistant (Psychology & Counselling).


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