Meet Elena, your expert IPA tutor

Hello there, I am delighted to meet you!

Learn more about my journey to becoming an expert IPA tutor

Find out who I am and how am I qualified to support you with your Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) research project

The Fundamentals

(the slightly dull, but nonetheless important bit, so let’s just get it out of the way now…)

I am a Doctor of Counselling Psychology with experience of working clinically as a Counselling Psychologist in private practice and as an academic in the UK Higher Education Sector

I was Chartered with the British Psychological Society between 2009 and 2023 (I know…controversial, but I took the plunge and gave up my BPS membership this year!)

I was registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) as a Practitioner Psychologist between 2009 and 2023, but I no longer do any clinical work, so I have also forgone my HCPC registration this year!

It is all go…

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How I got to this point

Following a ten-year career in hospital pharmacy, I was inspired by my own (fairly extensive) therapeutic journey to train as a Counselling Psychologist

I completed my Professional Doctorate at City, University of London, in 2008

I registered with the HCPC in early 2009, and I have worked in both private practice as a clinician and in academia

My time in Higher Education (HE) involved lecturing on various Counselling Psychology Doctoral training programmes, founding and serving as a director of London IPA Training between 2012 and 2016, and convening an Undergraduate programme at Goldsmiths, University of London

My teaching experience in the University sector

I have taught extensively on Counselling Psychology programmes, with lectureships at London Met and Roehampton. I also guest lectured for several years on the DClin programme at Royal Holloway

In addition, I have also taught extensively at Masters’ and Undergraduate level across these institutions and at Goldsmiths, University of London

My speciality is qualitative research methods in general, but my expertise in this area is firmly focused on Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA)

I have extensive supervisory and examining experience of masters’ and doctoral-level research, particularly those employing IPA as the research methodology

This, coupled with my teaching experience, means that I am well placed to support students at all levels of study, although I (obviously!) have particular expertise in Prof Docs, especially in Counselling and Clinical Psychology

Elena’s enthusiasm for IPA is infectious – I feel more informed, focussed and better able to progress my analysis now. Thank you, Elena!


Multiple workshops, June 2021

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My therapist alter-ego

In my work as a psychological therapist, I have trained extensively in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

I have worked in private practice since qualifying in 2008, although I moved away from this work in 2020 and this year, I gave up my BPS Chartered member status and HCPC registration – I do not intend to return to clinical work

I recently spent three years in full-time private practice in the City of London between 2017 and 2020 providing high quality, evidence-based ACT interventions to adult clients working in the corporate sector

My modest publication list

I have published a modest range of peer-reviewed papers and book chapters

My most read and cited piece is an article on IPA published in the Psychologist magazine with my colleague, Dr Kate Hefferon, in 2011. You can read it here

Most recently I co-authored the Little Anxiety Workbook with Dr Michael Sinclair and Dr Michael Eisen which was published in early 2021

You can see a full list of my publications here

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My geek superpowers

I employed Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) for my doctoral research and have developed a detailed and extensive knowledge of this particular methodology over the years

My inner geek emerges

I was raised in a very quantitative manner due to my pure science background and my doctorate was my first foray into the qualitative realm – it blew me away!

The breadth and depth of underpinning philosophy and epistemology, coupled with the mind-boggling array of methods and methodologies ignited a passion in me that I did not know I had

This, coupled with a long-standing interest in listening to the stories that people tell about their lives, major experiences, and what they may have learned from them, gave rise to a deep affinity with the qualitative approach

My inner geek was well and truly unleashed!

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The London Regional IPA Group years and THAT article in The Psychologist magazine

I was an avid (perhaps even slightly obsessional) member of the London Regional IPA Group throughout my doctorate and the support and learning offered in the group was a fundamental part of my doctoral success

I went on to be the regional contact and co-facilitator of that same London group for three years with my colleague, Dr Kate Hefferon

This involved co-facilitation of regular multidisciplinary research seminars in IPA held at the University of East London between 2009 and 2012

During that time, we wrote a surprisingly popular article about IPA that was published in The Psychologist magazine, is available online, and still regularly cited. You can read it here

The London IPA Training years

Following this, Kate and I founded a small independent venture, London IPA Training

We provided high-quality small group in-person IPA training workshops between 2012 and 2016, mainly to PhD and Prof Doc students across a wide range of disciplines

My geek superpowers were also focused on epistemology and reflexivity in research as other areas of expertise during this time

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I came to your lecture because I was hating IPA with a passion, felt overwhelmed, stuck and was wishing I’d never started this whole thing

Your depth of knowledge, enthusiasm and interest in IPA is abundant and wonderful to bathe in – I am left feeling rejuvenated and maybe even slightly excited about IPA


Situating IPA, July 2021

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My values as a teacher and trainer of qualitative research methods

I am well known for my enthusiastic, practical, and pragmatic approach to qualitative research methods and my encouraging, reassuring, approachable, and supportive teaching style

I am absolutely passionate about guiding students through the occasionally very choppy waters of their qualitative research project, at any level of study

My love of teaching develops

I discovered my love of teaching towards the end of my doctoral journey

What started as a trek towards a clinical profession has most definitely ended up somewhere else – helping university-level students navigate their qualitative research study with the minimum of stress and worry

I feel most at home when waxing lyrical about the topic area that really makes my heart sing – the geekery of qualitative research and IPA in particular!

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More on my teaching style

My expertise in qualitative research methods is communicated in a digestible and accessible way, helping students get to grips with complicated theoretical concepts and the practicalities of completing a research study

I have boundless enthusiasm for this topic area coupled with an enduring ability to reinvigorate students who may be flagging

My core values in summary

Authenticity, transparency, and integrity – I say it as I see it, and I am very open and honest about the personal challenges I navigated throughout my research methods journey

Accountability and trustworthiness – I do what I say, and students can rely on me to fulfil my obligations to the best of my ability

Passion and fun – even in qualitative research! I have a very active sense of humour and I firmly believe in incorporating this as much as possible to lighten up what can be a difficult and challenging process

A love of learning and a drive for continuous improvement, persistence, and perseverance – these are incredibly important to me, and I strive to help my students dig deep and be the best qualitative researcher that they can

And last, but by no means least, stewardship – contributing to students’ educational journeys in an effective, practical, compassionate, supportive, and empowering way

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Elena’s passion for IPA is evident, connection to others genuine, and the interactive and open discussions really brought IPA to life, far beyond what is possible from academic reading. In short, what a great experience


Situating IPA , June 2021

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If I can do it, you can do it

My doctoral journey, and indeed my qualitative research journey, did not play out smoothly by any manner or means… as is often the case, in my experience

Returning to education was a challenge after a ten-year hiatus while pursuing a career in hospital pharmacy

While I felt that my pharmacy job was pretty intellectually demanding, I was absolutely not prepared for the effort required to re-engage with postgraduate study!

Why I am well placed to support students returning to education or changing career

The beginning of my doctoral journey was a right old roller coaster of adjustment and settling into a new way of thinking and working

I therefore feel I am well placed to understand the demands on a ‘mature student’ (does anyone even use this term these days?) and those embarking on a return to education or re-training for a second career

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My doctoral journey and what I found I could bring to an academic role

The doctoral process was frankly gruelling, and I was wholly unprepared for its demands

As a result, I became very inventive in seeking out guidance and support to help me on my way

As I progressed into an academic role, I found that my newly learned skills and organisational prowess could benefit my students

I have become an expert at passing on tips, tricks, and strategies to help you manage the process of conducting a significant piece of work such as your qualitative research project

What my work as a psychological therapist adds

My other work as a psychological therapist adds to this as I am also well versed in holding anxiety and distress amongst the student population!

What my experience in the Higher Education sector adds

My lengthy experience in the HE sector has contributed to an enhanced understanding of the stresses, strains, challenges, and opportunities that you are likely to be facing

I bring all this knowledge and understanding to my teaching and instruction, along with my supportive and encouraging style of interaction with students

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Elena’s workshop provided exactly the knowledge, guidance, empathic support and scaffolding I needed. She always remembered that our projects differed widely in both topic and level of study, continuously pointing out how to adapt to the requirements of each level, which I’m sure made it feel relevant to every participant. Having felt stuck and overwhelmed, I now feel inspired and able to move forward


Introduction to IPA Data Analysis, June 2021

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I do hope that sheds a little light on who I am, and how and why I am well placed to support you

Come and join me for some training!

With best wishes,