2021 National Research Success

For the 16th consecutive year LC&CTA students’ research was selected to be presented at the BACP Research Conference (this year held on-line due to Covid-19 restrictions).

The HPD in Counselling & Psychotherapy Class of 2021 (see below) presented 3 Sub-group Poster Presentations and a Collaborative Research Poster Presentation on Sex Addiction (also see below) presented by 3 representatives of the entire cohort along with Chris Brown, Co-Director, who participated in the on-line presentation.

Examples of these Posters and the Research Abstracts can also be seen below.

LC&CTA congratulates these graduating students on their fine research work and their success.

Presenters: Jerry Gordon, Barbara Brzeziecka

Other Authors: Samantha Cowperthwaite

Professional Role: Higher Professional Diploma Students

Institute/Affiliation: Lewisham Counselling & Counselling Training Associates Email:christine.brown@lcandcta.co.uk

Key Words: Sex-Addiction, Judgement, Therapeutic-Relationship, Self-concept

Title: What was/is the impact of being a self-identified sex addict on our respondents’ self-concept and their inter and intrapersonal well-being, and can this inform psychotherapeutic practice?

Aim/Purpose: The research aimed to explore the experience of self-identified sex-addicts, and how sex-addiction affects individuals’ well-being and self-concept. Our research purpose is to better inform counsellors working with this client-group.

Design/methodology: Following the BACP guidelines for research in counselling and psychotherapy (Mitchels, 2018), three respondents self-identifying as recovering addicts, were audio-recorded during semi-structured interviews. The data was thematically analysed informed by phenomenological principles (Smith et al, 2009).

Ethical approval: Our research was approved by our college Ethics Board before respondent recruitment began. Respondents were offered six no-fee counselling sessions if issues arose due to their research participation.

Results/Findings: According to our respondents’ experiences, findings indicate that sex- addiction manifests in conjunction with a pre-existing profoundly negative self-concept and other co-morbid addictions such as substance misuse. Prior to recovery respondents were unable to achieve relational-intimacy and our findings suggest that recovery is an ongoing life-long process. All three respondents disclosed a definitive moment that lead to their self-classification as sex-addicts and subsequently into recovery; which in turn has resulted in a more positive self-concept and greater relational-intimacy. Our respondents expressed sensitivity to external judgement, as well as self-judgement and shame and our findings further indicate that this client-group can be highly critical/ judgemental of their psychotherapeutic relationships. However, conversely respondents were also positive in relation to how psychotherapy had aided their recovery process. It appears the extension of empathy and non-judgement, regardless of the psychotherapeutic modality offered, are critical to positive therapeutic experiences/outcomes for this client group.

Research Limitations: The small sample size may restrict generalisation of our findings (McLeod, 2003). As the research analysis was based on phenomenological principals, the findings may be considered to be subjective.

Conclusions/Implications: Sex-addiction has a negative impact on sufferers inter/intrapersonal relationships, exacerbates their existing negative self-concept and induces self-judgement and shame. The careful extension of empathy and non-judgement from counsellor to client appears critical in the psychotherapeutic relationship and greatly enhances the possibility of recovery for this client group. It seems important for counsellors to note that recovery from sexual-addiction appears to be an on-going life-long process which needs other on-going support long after the psychotherapeutic relationship has ended.


Mitchels, B. (2018) Ethical Guidelines for Research in the Counselling Professions. Lutterworth. BACP. British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.

McLeod, J. (2003) Doing counselling research, 2nd Edition. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Smith, J. Flowers, P. and Larkin, M. (2009) Interpretative phenomenological analysis; theory, method and research. London: SAGE publications Ltd.

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