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Mrs Jacqueline (Maria) Cochrane

Profile summary

Professional biography

I am a PhD research student in the Department of Psychology and Counselling at the Open University. I was awarded a PhD studentship with ESRC GUDTP at the Open University. I studied at Northampton University as a mature student, where I achieved a 1st Class degree in BSc Counselling and Psychology and a Distinction in MSc Psychology. I was awarded an MSc scholarship for academic excellence and went on to achieve a commendation for outstanding performance, having achieved straight A’s and Distinctions.   

I have held the role of a PhD student representative for the Open University School of Psychology and Counselling. 

Prior to starting at the Open University I was a qualified counsellor and therapist, working with women with body image and identity issues..

Research interests

A thread through my studies has been an interest in narrative, bodies, and health experiences, which evidenced the impact of societal norms of women’s experiences of the body and femininity.

My research project: ‘Re-storying the body, re-storying the self: The re-negotiation of appearance norms in women’s narratives following mastectomy surgery’ builds on qualitative methodologies in health psychology, feminist psychology and social psychology. Experience of my previous projects underpinned the interest in the specific case of mastectomy experience as well as the relevant theoretical and methodological grounding. My current doctoral research develops this pathway to investigate how women make sense of the specific embodied experience of mastectomy.

The PhD research addresses a significant gap in psychological knowledge, through investigating the role of appearance norms in women’s narratives of self and body, following mastectomy for breast cancer.  It applies a multi-modal narrative approach on women’s mastectomy narratives across multiple domains of everyday life, and over time. The rich mixture of visual and biographical methods used is designed to counter the limitations of conventional qualitative health research studies that ‘freeze’ space and time in a single snapshot. The project will build on and contribute to academic debates in feminist psychology on the objectification of women’s bodies, narrative psychological accounts of health and illness, and the social psychology of medicine. Research in this area will contribute greater understanding of how women cope with illness and treatment. The research findings will be relevant to academic psychology and education, and to breast cancer patients and survivors, and professionals that work with them.

Teaching interests

I plan to deliver lectures on topics relevant to the research, so welcome opportunities to contribute to current perspectives on women’s health both in academia and research.

Impact and engagement

The research is currently at data collection stage. I have presented my research both at a national and international level. I plan to look for opportunities to attend and present at further conferences on research methods, narrative and on health research. This will build network and academic connections, and knowledge exchange. I currently have presentations scheduled at the PGR summer conference, and OPRC CAB event. 

Alongside my dissertation, I plan to write and have the research published in health or academic journals (BACP, RCN OR BMA) or books. I would also pursue the opportunity of carrying out a written collaboration (through further research) with other academics on an interest in female health