Life Before Ulster
Dr Paula Brogan joined the School of Communication and Media in 2016 following a career of more than 30 years in healthcare provision. Having graduated as a nurse from the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast in 1988, Paula obtained her undergraduate degree in University of Brighton and a Post Graduate Diploma in District Nursing from University of South Bank in London, before specialising in community palliative care provision in London and then for the Northern Health and Social Care Trust and the Northern Ireland Hospice, Belfast. Having extended her training as a counsellor, Paula established the counselling service at Antrim Hospital in 2001, on behalf of the NI Charity Ulster Cancer Foundation (now Cancer Focus) and managed that service for 9 years as part of the psycho-oncology service – focusing on the provision of counselling to people impacted by cancer (patients, family members and staff).
A BACP accredited counsellor, a couple therapist and counselling supervisor, Paula has extensive experience across statutory, voluntary and private sectors and brings a depth and range of expertise in communication and counselling to her role as lecturer at Ulster.
A Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and winner of two Ulster University Student Union Awards for Teaching Excellence in 2017 (Individual) and 2018 (as part of the Counselling and Health Communication Team), Paula has a strong respect for students as active participants in their own learning. Consequently, students can expect an interactive experience, where in a supportive class context they will learn with and from their peers and tutor.
Paula’s teaching is informed by current research in the field of counselling and communication in healthcare and her style has evolved in professional clinical contexts in nursing and counselling - so lectures are enriched by real world examples which help students to make sense of theory and develop their skills for working well with people. In addition to online materials, teaching and student learning is supported by a blend of approaches including formal lectures and tutorials, student led-discussion forums and seminars.
Paula is Course Director for the BSc(Hons) Professional Development in Counselling Studies and lectures in areas of humanistic and integrative counselling and professional practice.
With applications for practice, Paula’s research has reflected a clinical healthcare focus and an interest in qualitative approaches which seek to understand the experience of people working in or interacting with systems of health and social care. Studies have explored the professional and personal experience of specialist cancer counsellors communicating with people dealing with a cancer diagnosis; the benefit of patient held notes for palliative care patients; communication among multi-disciplinary community healthcare professionals; training and preparation of student counsellors.
Her PhD, completed in the School of Nursing at Ulster University, explored end-of-life decision-making between patients, their families and the multi-disciplinary healthcare professionals who support them at home and Paula has presented her work at conference and published in peer reviewed journals including Palliative Medicine and the Journal of Nursing Research. Currently, Paula is leading a mixed methods intervention study investigating the assessment of counselling placement students in Northern Ireland, the findings of which will inform counselling training in NI.
Paula’s civic contribution is made in several ways. In collaboration with an extensive network of industry contacts in health and social care provision, Paula has been engaged for many years in the development and delivery of a range of workshops for public, multi-disciplinary health care professionals and counsellors working in the field of cancer and palliative care provision. These workshops focus on development of understanding and coping skills and examples have included: Sex and Sexuality in Cancer; Working with Body Image; Psychological impact of Breast Cancer; Counselling People Impacted by Cancer and Chronic Illness.
As Ulster University Faculty Partnership Manager (for Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences), Paula works closely with the six Further Education Colleges to lead the development and delivery of Ulster Validated Counselling courses. In this role she also manages the Ulster Register of Counselling-Training Supervision Providers (a body of approximately 100 clinical supervisors), liaises closely with the network of counselling agencies and placement providers in NI and with professional bodies for counselling, in order to develop and support high quality counselling training across Northern Ireland.
In addition to working with Ulster University, Paula also maintains a small private counselling practice which specialises in work with individuals and couples impacted by illness.