Research Interests & Projects

My research interests cover two different aspects:

1. The first is linked to my current professional role working with autistic individuals (ASC).

2. The second covers topics related to career-transitions in young professionals, life transitions and identity, self-regulation and optimal human performance and psycho-social aspects of transitions. It also includes applying positive psychology to develop human resilience, grit, regulating stress and performance anxiety and adopting strength-based frameworks.

For the first aspect, much of my current involvement focuses on the impact and educational purposes of Drama with young adults on the Autistic Spectrum Conditions. The work has been conducted in association with the Institute of Education (IOE), and has been funded by the Economic Social Research Council (ESRC).

Other projects have included a qualitative interpretative phenomenological approach (IPA) to the investigation of retirement and career transitions in elite performers. This was the main topic of my PhD (2007). See below.

I am an Associate Editor for Psychological Thought publication: Psychological Thought

Editorial Team member for PsychReg Journal of Psychology publication: PsychReg Journal of Psychology

Editorial Team Member for IADMS International Association Dance Medicine and Science | Journal of Dance Medicine and Science JDMS

Special Guest Editor for Frontiers in Psychology

Doctoral Thesis (PhD)

The topic of my PhD covered a range of issues, seeking to explore and explain the Retirement Experience of Ballet Dancers. The thesis is based on the assumption that ballet dancers who highly identify themselves with their role will encounter greater difficulties in transferring to alternative roles. Furthermore, it aims to better understand the different factors accounting for either a positive or problematic transition drawing upon existing life span (Erikson, 1963; Levinson et al. 1982) and transition models (Schlossberg, 1981; Hopson & Adams, 1977).

Through IPA and Grounded Theory, hermeneutic data analysed semi-structured interviews from 14 international ballet dancers. A theoretical Model, described and applied to the findings illustrates theoretical utility. The four main themes that emerged from the analysis were: ‘Reasons for Retirement’, ‘Sources and Types of Support’, ‘Coping Within & Without’, and ‘Floating Resolutions: The Sequels’.

The role of the Dancer’s Identity influenced the way participants experienced the transition, during the decision making process and during the coping stages of retirement. The outcomes were characterised by some ex-ballet dancers engaging with similar professions to the dancing career as ‘re-makers’, and others leaping into different roles as ‘exposers’ (Munton & West, 1995). These have implications for future career development and career counselling.

Research Collaborations

Through the National Autistic Society (NAS) collaborations have taken place with:

  •  University of Kent (Tizard Centre) (2024). Perceptions of staff Self-Determination.
  • Autism Europe International Conference (2019). Transdisciplinary Embedded Approaches: A Case Study. Poster presentation at the Nice Conference.
  • Quality of Life Framework (QoLF) In-House research on the implementation of the framework within the NAS and NASATs schools curriculum.
  • The Institute of Education (IoE) (2013) Collaboration for a MA Thesis looking at Sleeping Patterns in Children with ASC and their Siblings.
  • The University of Birmingham (2010-2012) for a project on Self-Injurious Behaviour and Autism and the use of Remote-Consultancy with the Cerebra Centre in Birmingham. The project had an extension through January 2012. The project has now been completed, though further funding will be sought in order to expand our knowledge in this field.
  • Birkbeck University (2012) – Gender differences in young people on the Autistic Spectrum Conditions (ASC)
  • University College London (UCL 2012) – Differences in understanding grammar and metaphors in High Functioning Autism (AS).
  • University College London (UCL- 2012) – Sensory processing and attention span in young people on ASC.
  • The Institute of Education (IoE) – (2008-2011) in London on the Impact of Drama in the Education with young people with ASD. The four year long project has led to the award of a PhD.
  • Image in Action (2007) One year long investigation of Sex and Relationship Education (SRE) with young adults with ASC (Image in Action).
  • University of Kingston (2008) – The use of SPELL as a framework in the Education of young adults with ASC.