Dr Paula Collens

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Senior Lecturer/Head of Learning, Teaching and Curriculum Development

Phone: +64 9 921 9999 Ext 5780

Email: paula.collens@aut.ac.nz

Physical Address:
AUT University  (Room  AR234)
North Shore Campus
90 Akoranga Drive
Northcote, Auckland
New Zealand
Postal Address:
AUT University
North Shore Campus
Private Bag 92006
Auckland 1142
New Zealand


PhD (University College London, UCL Institute of Education)
MA Integrative Arts Psychotherapy (Institute for Arts in Therapy and Education, validated University of North London)
PgDip Psychodynamic Counselling (Goldsmiths College, University of London)
BA Psychology & Russian (University of Keele, UK; semester at University of Leningrad)
Certificate Therapeutic and Educational Application of the Arts (Inst for Arts in Therapy and Education, London)

Memberships and Affiliations:

UK Health Care and Professions Council Registered Counselling Psychologist (current – this is not applicable in New Zealand where I am not registered as a Counselling Psychologist)
British Psychological Society, MBPsS (current)
Senior Fellow of Higher Education Academy, SFHEA, UK
United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) Registered Psychotherapist (2004-2012).
International Society for Music Education (current)
Faculty Member of Wellbeing Education: Professional Training in Wellbeing Practice for Children and Young People at the UK Institute for Arts in Therapy and Education in partnership with University of East London (current)


Paula is a Senior Lecturer and Head of Learning, Teaching and Curriculum Development for the School of Public Health and Psychosocial Studies. She was awarded Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy UK (2017) in recognition of her leadership roles in the university sector on learning and teaching.

At AUT she is involved in research, teaching and academic and clinical supervision on postgraduate and undergraduate programmes, and contributes to the disciplines of Psychotherapy, Counselling and Counselling Psychology.  She co-leads the LGBTQI+ Research Group in her school and offers academic supervision to Masters and Doctoral students. Paula is an Associate Editor for Psychology of Music journal (2015 impact factor: 2.010) and she is a peer reviewer for Psychotherapy and Politics International and ATA: Journal of Psychotherapy Aotearoa New Zealand.

She has a PhD Psychology in Education (University College London) and was qualified as a Psychotherapist, Counsellor, EMDR Trauma Therapist and Counselling Psychologist in the UK.  Paula has been employed in Higher Education contexts in London for the past 20 years providing psychological and consultancy services to staff and students, with a specific focus on working with social justice and equalities issues.
She was previously Head of Learning and Teaching for the Department of Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London.  There she held leadership responsibility for development and implementation of learning, teaching and assessment strategy within an inter-disciplinary faculty.  As a Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader in the UK she has led on delivery and development of counselling, psychotherapy and psychology programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. She also developed educational, creative and therapeutic initiatives that fostered dialogue and critical thinking on issues of identity, diversity and power relations.

Paula’s passion for the arts, creativity and imagination has been interwoven into all aspects of her professional life.  This finds expression in her approach to teaching, clinical practice and research.

Teaching Areas:

  • Psychotherapy and counselling (psychodynamic / relational / humanistic / integrative) theory and practice.
  • Research Methods (Qualitative)
  • LGBTQI+:  identities, communities, well-being, minority stress
  • Clinical Supervision: theory and practice
  • Social Psychology, Social Constructionism, Race and Culture
  • Trauma and PTSD
  • Integrating the Arts in Psychotherapy
  • Understanding Groups: theory and practice

Research Areas:

Paula supervises doctoral/masters research on practice-based and conceptual questions that emerge in the following areas:

  • learning and teaching in higher education
  • education/training of psychological / psychotherapeutic practitioners
  • clinical supervision
  • talking, creative, arts-based and music therapies;
  • race and culture
Qualitative Methodologies – in particular IPA, thematic analysis, hermeneutic literature review.

Postgraduate Supervision Topics (Current/Recent Projects)

PhD Projects:
  • Exploring Bisexual/Pansexual/Queer Women’s Intimate Relationships
  • Teaching and Learning of Reflexivity in the Education of Counselling Psychologists
  • Selective mutism and anxiety.
MA Psychotherapy Projects:
  • The experience of Pasifika students in psychotherapy education in Aotearoa, New Zealand
  • Secrets in Psychotherapy
  • Working clinically with transgender clients from a non-transgender psychotherapist perspective
  • Paranoia and Sexuality in Psychoanalytic Literature
  • Lesbian and Gay Therapists Experience of Non/Self-disclosure of Sexuality in Psychotherapy
MA Counselling Projects:
  • Gay Men’s Experience of a Later Life HIV Diagnosis
  • Disability and the Counselling Relationship
PgCert HSc: Counselling Psychology
  • Experience of Health Care Practitioners Working with Trauma

Research Summary:

Current research interests are inter-disciplinary emerging at the intersection of the fields of psychology, psychotherapy, education and music.  Research activities cluster around three key themes: teaching and learning in higher/tertiary education, health and well-being, and LGBTQI+.  Paula is co-leader for LGBTQI+ Research Study Group in the School of Public Health and Psychosocial Studies, AUT.

Current Research Projects:

Tertiary education environments and the wellbeing of university students in New Zealand.  (AUTEC approved 2018).  A longitudinal study comparing general and LGBTQI+ student populations on well-being and perceptions/experience of university environment.  Co-researcher with Dr Elizabeth du Preez.

The Relational Dimension of One-to-One Tuition: Conservatoire Vocal Studies Education.  (Completed doctoral research 2015, UCL).  Empirical study examining the influence of the teacher-student ‘relationship’ on experience, process and outcomes of learning.


Collens, P and van Hout, F (2017)  Learning in Psychotherapy Group Supervision: Transcending Complementarity and the Generative Potential of Group Conflict.  British Journal of Psychotherapy 33, (2) 177-191

Collens, P (2016) What Can We Learn from Using Video-Stimulated Reflective Interviews to Understand the Dynamics of Relationship in Teacher-Student or Therapeutic Dyads?  Paper presented at One-Day Symposium: Innovative Research Methods in Music Therapy and Related Disciplines. Victoria University of Wellington, NZ.

Collens, P (2016) The Relational Dimension of One-to-One Tuition in Conservatoire Education.  Paper presented at International Society for Music Education (ISME) World Conference on Music Education, Glasgow UK.

Collens, P (2015)  The Relational Dimension of One-to-One Tuition: Conservatoire Vocal Studies Education.  Thesis submitted in completion of PhD at University College London, UCL Institute of Education.

Collens, P and Creech, A (2013) ‘Intersubjectivity and the Potential for Collaborative Learning in One- to-One Contexts’. In Gaunt, H and Westerlund, H (eds.) Collaborative Learning in Higher Music Education: Why, What and How? Surrey: Ashgate Publishers.

Cohen, K and Collens, P (2013) The Impact of Trauma Work on Trauma Workers: A Meta-synthesis on Vicarious Trauma and Vicarious Posttraumatic Growth. In Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Vol. 5 (6), Nov 12, 2012.

Collens, P (2012) Collaborative Learning and Intersubjectivity in Conservatoire One-to-One Tuition. Paper presented in Symposium: ‘Perspectives on the Collaborative Process in One-to-One and Group Contexts’. Third International Reflective Conservatoire Conference ‘Performing at the Heart of Knowledge’.

Collens, P (2012) Intersubjectivity in Conservatoire Music Education One-to-One Tuition. Oral Presentation. What is Arts Education? Conceptualising Creative Practice/Knowledge in Higher Education. Institute of Education.

Collens, P (2010).  Relationality and Creative Learning Partnerships in 1-1 Tutelage Relationship in Vocal Studies Conservatoire Music Education.  Poster Presentation, Doctoral School Conference, Institute of Education, London.

Collens, P (2008)  Shame and Shamelessness.  Workshop Leader at The Relational School Teach-in, UK.

Collens, P (2006) Sexualities and Gender in Psychotherapy.  Presentation given at Graduate Research Forum, Institute for Arts in Therapy and Education, London.

Collens, P (2004) Creativity and the Arts as a Site for Exploration of Sexual Identities. Presenter and Workshop Leader, Queer Analysis Conference, London.

Collens, P (1998) The Value of Revenge in Analytic Theory and Practice. In British Journal of Psychotherapy, 14 (4) 502-512. Won award in Annual Student Essay Competition of the BJP.