Psychological Helping & Support Research Group

Welcome to the Psychological Helping and Support Research Group

The UCL Psychological Helping and Support Research Group is a loose association of clinical/community psychologists, led by Prof Chris Barker and Prof Nancy Pistrang. It is part of the Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, in the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences of University College London.

Our research focuses on all types of psychological helping and support. We mostly study those types that psychologists call social support, such as peer support, mutual support groups, internet support, befriending and mentoring. We also study professional helping, i.e., psychological therapy, counselling and general medical consultations. We are particularly interested in common processes that underlie all these different kinds of helping. We hope to contribute to the development of theory about what makes psychological helping effective, and also to address the practical issues of how best to deliver effective help to people in distress.

Research has shown that the majority of people with psychological problems do not, for various reasons, seek professional help. It is therefore particularly important to study the kinds of help and support that people actually receive in their everyday lives, and to develop ways of promoting more supportive interpersonal and community relationships.

The links on the left give details of our work. For further information, please email either Chris Barker or Nancy Pistrang. We are always interested in collaborating with like-minded colleagues, both inside and outside of psychology, and inside and outside of the academic system.

Finally, here's a quote from George Eliot, whose novels illustrate the importance of being surrounded by a supportive community. It comes from her masterpiece, Middlemarch:

"What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult to each other."

What indeed?