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The Chester Centre for Contextual Behavioural Science was established in 2019. We conduct research into third-wave psychological interventions (including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy/Training and other mindfulness-based approaches) and into developing the basic science on which such interventions are based through non-interventional and laboratory-based research.

Our centre has methodological expertise in a wide range of quantitative research designs, the development of psychometrically robust measurement tools, and systematic reviewing and evidence-synthesis.

Our Research Centre is home to a large group of staff and students from the School of Psychology, and is co-directed by Prof Nick Hulbert-Williams and Dr Lee Hulbert-Williams. Whilst Nick manages the administrative and financial side of running the Centre, including line managing our research staff, Lee takes a lead on developing our programme of support for our postgraduate students and providing statistical and methodological oversight of our portfolio of research. Whilst our Centre ethos is towards a collaborative approach to research, our current research is grouped into three core themes:

> Psychological Measurement (lead: Dr Lee Hulbert-Williams), in which we are developing and validating robust and accurate ways to measure psychological constructs and behaviour. At the current time, we are especially focussing on the measurement of psychological wellbeing, self-authenticity, and stigma.

> Experimental Intervention Development (lead: Dr Kevin Hochard), in which we aim to test and develop components and exercises that might be used in applied psychology interventions. Much of our current work in this area is focussed on improving and evaluating values-clarification exercises.

> Applied Intervention Science (lead: Prof Nick Hulbert-Williams), in which we undertake evidence synthesis, observational research, and applied clinical trials to improve wellbeing. Our work is focusses on two programmes of applied work: Suicide and Self-Harm, and Cancer and End of Life Care.

Why Contextual Behavioural Science?

Across all of our research themes, our work involves the application of a coherent model of psychological science, known as Contextual Behavioural Science (CBS).When people seek the services of a psychologist, they are most often interested not just in being able to explain and understand behaviour, but in being able to influence it. Whether it’s getting better at dealing with stress or illness, doing more exercise, giving up smoking, or a hundred other goals, ultimately practicing psychologists are asked to help influence behaviour. Regardless of the issue and setting, the psychologist isn’t in the client’s head; we are in their environment or context.

For this reason, Contextual Behavioural Science, as a branch of psychology, prioritizes theories which included the context in which a behaviour occurs, and the context in which it was learned. We study the effects of environment, including the coaching and therapeutic environments, on learning and behaviour. Our model of theory development is reticulated, which is to say we assume that it’s useful to have theories at different levels of technicality — some more useful to psychological researchers, some more appropriate for interventionists — and that these theories should be mutually compatible. In this way, CBS is a broad church, running the full gamut from lab-based experiments to pragmatic and client-centred practice.

Working with the Centre for Contextual Behavioural Science

If you’re interested in what we do, please do get in touch. If you’re a student considering undertaking an MRes, MPhil or PhD, or a post-doc interested in joining us as a visiting scholar, please direct your enquiry in the first instance to one of the Centre Co-Directors. Please note that due to the high volume of interest we prefer to host projects for extended periods of more than six months duration. The ability to self-fund is preferable. A strong academic CV and interest in CBS is essential.

Parkgate Road
United Kingdom