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Yearly Archives: 2016

MSc Health Psych graduate leads mindfulness at national patient conference


On 15th October, staff member Carol Percy and recent graduate Charys Orr contributed to the annual conference of Verity, the national charity for patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). More than eighty women from across the UK took part.

Carol gave a presentation on the emotional impact of PCOS, and took part in an expert Q&A panel, alongside Dr Suman Rice of St George’s University Hospital, Dr Judith Ibson, GP and Senior Lecturer in Primary Care and Prof Stephen Franks, Imperial College and St Mary’s Hospital. This was followed by a practical self-management workshop, which gave tasters of different approaches and signposted places where patients could get more support. Charys, who interviewed patients with PCOS for her MSc dissertation, led a mindfulness meditation, while Carol gave some suggestions for using cognitive behaviour therapy and self-compassion.

Charys and Carol have been working on developing a new self management support programme for PCOS patients. Charys conducted patient interviews as part of her MSc health psychology dissertation project, and Carol is currently interviewing health professionals and charity stakeholders.  They are using a co-creation approach to designing the new intervention, which will be an adaptation of Coventry’s HOPE programme.

Charys said: “The Verity conference was a great opportunity for me to meet with patients, doctors and researchers to enhance my knowledge of PCOS and see how the self-management programme will benefit those who suffer with the condition. I also benefited from from being able to practically apply my knowledge and skills in mindfulness I had learnt over the course of  my masters, particularly during my dissertation research.”

More about PCOS from Verity’s website:


Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is the most common female hormone condition and manifests differently in each woman. It can be incredibly devastating to a woman’s self esteem and quality of life.


MSc Health Psychology students’ second visit to Sri Lanka

MSc Health Psychology students travelled to Sri Lanka in August, on a trip organised by Coventry University and the Colombo Institute of Research and Psychology. The Sri Lanka visit enables our students to gain insight into the cultural differences in psychology and healthcare across the UK and Sri Lanka.

cirpDuring their ten day tour Coventry students worked at CIRP delivering lectures, visiting psychological sites, hospitals and counselling rooms. They also explored the local area, including some beautiful temples, and took part in an international conference.

Dr Elizabeth Sparkes, Course Director said

This is the second year that the trip has run and it was a huge success again. It’s lovely to hear the students have gained so much personally and professionally from the experience.

Find out more about students’ experiences below.


Healthcare in Sri Lanka


The most valuable experience I had during my time in Sri Lanka was visiting the hospital in Kandy. After the long drive to the highlands, we spent the morning at the main hospital there. We were given the opportunity to sit in on patient consultations, directed by the hospital’s head Psychiatrist, amongst clinical psychologists and other health care practitioners. Although the majority of consultations were in Sinhalese, conversations were translated and paraphrased so we could broadly understand patients’ situations in each appointment. What was really interesting to learn was that even though facilities in Sri Lankan hospitals are nowhere near as advanced as those in Britain, the way in which mental health is treated is very similar- mental health is still considered a taboo subject and is most commonly treated in a similar way to physical health. Despite practitioners trying to facilitate a shift in treatment and trying to encourage CBT and other behaviour change techniques, patients would rather be prescribed a long list of expensive medications than engage in therapy. After two additional hospital visits, we met with the Psychology staff and two government health representatives at the Colombo Institute of Research and Psychology. We had a discussion where we compared cross-cultural health care. It was really interesting to learn about different aspects of both Sri Lankan health care and that of China and Singapore as well, where my friends were from.

We went to three different hospitals. It was interesting to see that for mental health patients, the hospital set a large timetable, including meditation, art workshops, music therapy and sport activities. We also joint a consulting time in outpatient clinic and met different patients with different psychological syndromes. It was a very practical experience, which is very rare to have in the UK.

Out and about in Colombo and beyond


Looking back at our time in Sri Lanka, the main thing that comes to mind is how busy Colombo was. We were straight into activities almost as soon as we arrived in the city and every day we spent was packed full of visits to hospitals, lectures and conference days. As valuable as these visits were, my favourite parts of the trip were definitely the calmer moments we spent in museums, temples and landmarks (especially the beautiful sights in Kandy) where we could learn more about the history of Sri Lanka and the role Buddhism plays in their culture. Overall, my trip to Sri Lanka was an amazing experience. My visit to the country was the first trip I had ever made outside Europe so experiencing and learning to respect Sri Lankan culture was eye-opening and has made me want to visit the country again and spend more time visiting cultural sights and landmarks.

The Colombo trip was good. People from CIRP were all very nice and caring. Before we went there, the weather forecast warned that Colombo would rain all the time when we were there. However, luckily, we had all beautiful sunshine when we were out. Colombo is a very busy city with bad traffic, luckily, the little tuk tuk taxi could take us running through the traffic to escape. Once, we went to a wrong place and we thought we couldn’t catch our schedule on time, but tuk tuk just magically took us to the right place in a limited time. We were not late at all. The first day after we arrived, we were excited to try local street food as our first meal and with CIRP people’s recommendation. I think after our first meal, we were kind of thinking maybe we could have some ‘normal’ meal next time, like western food maybe? My favourite part is, I could get avocado juice anywhere!

International conference


The ICAP conference days we had were really interesting. It gave us the opportunity to find out about up to date international research in applied Psychology. We were able to meet with psychologists and researchers from across the world to discuss our interests in Health Psychology. During the first day, we were able to have a conversation about issues and debates in Psychology and compare cross-cultural views of these. I found the workshops on the final day extremely engaging and related well to my own specific interests in Health Psychology. As well as learning about the more practical and academic applications of these topics, they also benefitted me on a more personal level.

The three days conference was a wonderful chance to understand the development of psychology in Asia.


The tour was a great way to mark the end of my masters in Health Psychology, driving my passion to continue research and has opened my eyes to clinical opportunities relating to my interests.

Thank you so much to Coventry University and the Colombo Institute of Research and Psychology for granting me with this amazing opportunity and organising the trip of a lifetime!




Midlands Health Psychology Network Conference Coming to Coventry


We’re pleased to share the news that The Midlands Health Psychology Network will be holding its annual conference at Coventry University on March 2nd 2017. The theme will be Approaches to Wellbeing: Working Across Professional Boundaries.

Students from the MSc Health Psychology are encouraged to attend. This will be a chance to see recent graduates and other friends of the course in action, and make useful network contacts. Find out what our students have said about the experience of attending in years past.

Behaviour Change Counselling: Motivational Interviewing

News about a forthcoming course likely to be of interest to health psychology trainees – and others.

One Day course in Motivational Interviewing – Coventry University – June 2016

This course is suitable for anyone working within an environment that supports people with change-behaviour such as public health practitioners, clinical, sport and health psychologists, social workers, nurses and allied health and social care professionals. The course is also suitable for academics and students who are interested in developing their clinical skills. No previous experience is necessary. A CPD certificate is included.

About the Trainer: Dr Charlotte Hilton is a Chartered Psychologist with a background in clinical and health psychology and public health. Charlotte works across a range of health and social care settings delivering quality, evidence-based training and research services including support with the evaluation of health interventions. Charlotte is a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT).

What to Expect from the Course: This 1-day course will help trainees to understand how to support people to change a variety of health related behaviours such as physical inactivity and smoking for example. Training comprises a variety of learning methods such as short lectures, workshops, video consultation examples and plenty of opportunity to practice developing skills. Examples of the application of MI to the specific settings in which trainees work are also provided to help contextualise the skills. Trainees will complete the course with a good understanding of the process of behaviour change and the skills needed to start to integrate MI into routine conversations with clients/patients.

Date and Location: Friday 10th June 2016 9:30-4:30 at Coventry University in Jaguar Building room JA128.
External delegates £200 – to book a place go to: https://www.eventsforce.net/cu/3276/register
Current CU students and CU graduates £100 if you are currently enrolled on a course at Coventry University or if you are a graduate of Coventry University. To book a place email the Health and Social Care Unit at hscu.hls@coventry.ac.uk
For more information follow the Motivational Interviewing Network Coventry University (MINCU) blog at http://mincu12.wordpress.com/introductory-training/
Informal Enquiries: Dr Charlotte Hilton Email: charlotte.hilton@coventry.ac.uk

Using technology to support safer walking for people with dementia: study recruiting now


One of the things that sometimes happens when a person receives a diagnosis of dementia is that their life shrinks.  They may have been enjoying an active life, and continue to have work, family or caring responsibilities, but hearing the word ‘dementia’ can conjure up fears about safety, and the need to scale back potentially risky activities.  Loved ones may feel a need to protect the person with dementia.  It is certainly true that people with advanced dementia may become confused and find themselves lost or in difficulty when in unfamiliar or even well-known places.  But the journey from early diagnosis to late stages of the condition may be a long one, and the goal of health professionals is to maintain or enhance the individual’s quality of life for the longest time possible.

Esme Wood from Coventry University’s Centre for Technology Enabled Health Research is currently conducting a doctoral research project, looking at the role that technology might play in helping people with dementia enjoy outdoor activities.  Can safer walking technology help reduce or delay life shrinking? If you or someone you know might be interested in taking part, please see Esme’s video on YouTube.

Esme has also reviewed the literature on safer walking technology.  You can read her work at

Wood, E., Ward, G. & Woolham, J. (2015) “The development of safer walking technology: a review”, Journal of Assistive Technologies, 9(2): 100 – 115