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Wednesday Research Seminar Series - Bringing Books Back: A Qualitative Exploration of Therapeutic Skills Development in Psychology Students through Book Club Participation

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START DATE 09 December 2020


END DATE 09 December 2020

This week, we are delighted to have Olga Khokhlova and Aditi Bhatia for our Wednesday research seminar. They will present their research on “Bringing Books Back: A Qualitative Exploration of Therapeutic Skills Development in Psychology Students through Book Club Participation”. 

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Wednesday Research Seminar Series 

We are pleased to invite you to our Wednesday Research Seminar. It will be held online on 09 December from 4pm via Microsoft team platform. Wednesday Research Seminar Series was launched in 2008, and has featured more than 280 presentations to date. The seminars provide a forum for researchers to share their work. Presenters include faculty from Middlesex University Dubai and other universities in the United Arab Emirates, as well as researchers from other global institutions. Olga and Aditi will deliver seminar on:  

“Bringing Books Back: A Qualitative Exploration of Therapeutic Skills Development in Psychology Students through Book Club Participation”  

Olga Khokhlova and Aditi Bhatia      


The experiential and reflective nature of psychotherapeutic training is not always captured in undergraduate psychology teaching, therefore, there is a need for educational strategies that provide opportunities for deeper understanding of the therapeutic process. This study evaluates one such strategy – A Book Club, to support the development of counselling skills in Psychology undergraduate students at a private university in Dubai, UAE. Psychotherapy-related books were assigned as prior reading each month, which were then discussed in the group meetings facilitated by clinically-experienced Psychology lecturers. Fifteen semi-structured interviews were carried out with students and analysed using thematic analysis. Four primary themes were generated - (1) Diversity in perspectives, (2) Autonomous learning environment, (3) Reality orientation, and (4) Sparking self-insight. The results highlight that Book Clubs are useful in fostering deeper conceptualizations of the therapeutic relationship, visualizing future careers in psychotherapy, and promoting self-awareness among students. Discussions centred around books can provide students with discourse opportunities that enhance students’ interpersonal skills, help to connect classroom knowledge with real-life experiences of psychotherapists described by authors and also improve student engagement.


Olga Khokhlova is currently an Adjunct Lecturer in Psychology and Research Associate at the Social Psychology Research Lab at Middlesex University Dubai. She is also a practicing Psychotherapist, working on her PhD in Clinical Psychology at Lomonosov Moscow State University. She holds a Master of Science degree in Psychology with a major in Clinical Psychology from Bielefeld University (Germany) and a combined Undergraduate and Graduate Degree in Clinical Psychology from Lomonosov Moscow State University (Russia). Olga also has a combined Undergraduate and Graduate Degree in Economics from Bryansk State Technical University (Russia). She has finished her training in Gestalt Psychotherapy at Moscow Gestalt Institute and currently is in the final year of her Training in Psychoanalytic work with couples and families (International Psychotherapy Institute, Washington DC). Olga has extensive experience working at mental health clinics and hospitals for both adults and children.   

Aditi Bhatia is a Lecturer in Psychology at Middlesex University Dubai. Aditi has a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health from University College London in the UK and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with Counselling, from Middlesex University Dubai. She completed an intensive training programme in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy from the William Alanson White Institute (New York) and is currently training in Group Analysis from the Institute of Group Analysis (Oxford). Aditi is involved in both teaching and research in the field of Clinical Psychology. She has previously worked as an Assistant Psychologist at St. Pancras Hospital in London and at Universal Hospital, Abu Dhabi. Aditi is actively involved in supporting community mental health initiatives through her volunteer work, and currently volunteers as a first-line responder for the national Mental Support Line in the UAE. Aditi is a strong advocate for youth mental health, and also leads the Wellness Support Group for students with emotional difficulties at the university.

Looking forward to seeing you at the seminar!  

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