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At CGL we place service users at the heart of everything we do, with a strong focus on safety and quality improvement. This is evident in our research and development programme.

We have been involved with 20 research projects over the last year and a half, looking at everything from: ‘The neural basis of gambling cognitions’ to ‘Destitution in the UK’.

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We are currently working with 28 universities, maintaining regular contact with consultants, readers, professors and students that are completing research studies. We are keen to contribute to the wider academic community so we encourage students to conduct their research with us whenever possible and appropriate. Our involvement with students ranges from undergraduate dissertations to PhD theses, from institutions across the United Kingdom.

Click the different tabs to read about current and recent studies involving CGL services.

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Walking tours

Walking tours - University of Central Lancashire

The Walking Tours research project was part of a partnership between the Knowledge Transfer Project (KTP), the University of Central Lancashire and CGL.

This project was led by the main researcher Jenny Christensen and supported by Dr Ali Neil Roy and Wendy Harker (Quality Lead).

Together they brought together a number of different working styles and piloted these at CGL’s Inspire East Lancashire service. Led by a service user, this form of mobile working involves literally walking side by side in the community. This creates a fundamentally different dynamic, where the service user recalls key events and current interactions in the local community.

Being mobile can activate the mind and creates a more neutral space. Assets and risks in the locality become more apparent and peer networks can be established. This fresh shared context away from the institutional building helps bring a new perspective that is “owned” by the service user. It has proved very effective with long-term clients have tried “everything else”.

Mobile working: further reading
  • Anderson J. (2004) Talking while walking: a geographical archaeology of knowledge, Area 36(3), pp.254-261
  • Buscher M, Urry J, Witcher K (2010) Mobile Methods. Routledge: London
  • Broadhurst, K. and Mason, C. (2014) Social Work beyond the VDU: Foregrounding Co-Presence in Situated Practice-Why Face-to-Face Practice Matters, in British Journal of Social Work, 44: 578-595.
  • Ferguson H (2008) Liquid Social Work: Welfare Interventions as mobile practices, British Journal of Social Work, 38. 561-579
  • Ferguson (2010) Walks, home visits and atmospheres: Risk and everyday practice and mobilities of social work and child protection, British Journal of Social Work, 40, 1100-1117.
  • Geller S & Greenberg L (2011) Therapeutic Presence: Therapists Experience of Presence in the Psychotherapy Encounter, in Person-centred and Experiential Psychotherapies, Volume 1, Numbers 1 &2.
  • Hughes J, Roy A, Manley J (2014) Surviving in Manchester: Narratives on movement from the Men’s rooms, Manchester. London: Lankelly Chase Foundation.
  • Ingold, T. & Vergunst J.L. (eds) (2008) Ways of walking: ethnography and practice on foot, Burlington & Hampshire: Ashgate
  • Ingold, T. (2010) Footprints through the Weather World: Walking, Talking, Breathing, Knowing, in Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, S121-S139.
  • Urry, J. (2007) Mobilities, Polity, Cambridge

Breaking Free

Studies on the effectiveness of Breaking Free Online – Breaking Free research department

A systematic programme of research and evaluation is being conducted in line with the Medical Research Council framework for developing and evaluating complex interventions.

Several studies published in UK and US peer-reviewed journals show the Breaking Free Online (BFO) computer-assisted therapy (CAT) programme leads to significantly: 

  • reduced substance consumption and substance dependence 
  • improved mental health, quality of life and recovery progression
  • increased resilience and self-efficacy
  • enhanced computer skills and digital inclusion

The Breaking Free research department has worked collaboratively with stakeholders at CGL to undertake a series of research publications, including:

  • An exploration of the initial diffusion and implementation of BFO at CGL, published in Drugs and Alcohol Today
  • An examination of the role of peer mentors in supporting service users to access BFO at CGL, published in Journal of Groups in Addiction and Recovery
  • An investigation into the processes of normalisation of CAT as a standard treatment offering at CGL, published in Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research
  • An overview of the role of partnership working between CGL and BFO in creating a sustainable model for delivery of CAT recovery interventions, accepted for publication in the International Journal of Health Governance.


Acamprosate prescription for alcohol dependence – Kings College, London

Reach Out Recovery, Birmingham is hosting research by Dr Edward Day, Senior Clinical Lecturer in Addiction Psychiatry at Kings College. The project is based around acamprosate. Acamprosate is a medication that is often used in conjunction with counselling to reduce the likelihood of relapse for people with alcohol dependence. 

NICE clinical guidance (2011) supports the use of the medication. It has been shown to be cost effective and produce positive outcomes for those with moderate to severe alcohol dependence.

This study is aimed at improving the adherence to acamprosate, in order to maximise the benefits for service users.

Dr Edward Day’s research is currently at the recruitment stage. The research is expected to conclude in 2018. The results of this research will offer a greater level of understanding on how to ensure service users that have been prescribed acamprosate take it as prescribed.

This research is an excellent example of how we work in collaboration with external researchers to produce positive outcomes for our service users.

Children's education

The impact on a child's quality of education when brought up by drug misusing parents – Liverpool Hope University

In early 2016 we hosted a Master's research project at East Lancashire Inspire.

The dissertation was entitled ‘The impact on a child's quality of education when brought up by drug misusing parents’ and was conducted by Imogen Holden-Gill, an Integrative Psychotherapy Master's student from Liverpool Hope University. It focused on parental drug use and the impact this has on the children in that family, looking at: how they might develop in school, what the situation may look like with their peers and finally what support they may get from anybody. This research opportunity enabled a student who had several years’ work experience in substance misuse to gain an academic perspective on her work, yielding interesting results that could provoke further research.

Read Imogen’s story

"In 2013 I started a career with Inspire substance misuse service. I approached Sue Shaw in an ‘off the cuff’ conversation when she introduced herself with regards to the possibility of the organisation supporting me with the completion of my MA studies in Integrative Psychotherapy. In response she stated ‘of course we can’ and my journey within Inspire and my research project began.

I was accommodated with working evenings to free up Wednesday mornings for attendance to a methodological lecture via skype with my university. I completed my Post Grad Diploma in Integrative Psychotherapy in 2014. I then embarked on exploring a topic for my Master’s thesis and approached Doctor Martha Dalton with regards to attaining Ex Client and Therapist experiences of delivering Gestalt Chair Dialogues with Emotion Focused Therapy. We collectively agreed for it not to be current clients within service due to the complexities of obtaining NHS ethics approval due to some client’s presentations of mental health issues.

Throughout the process my supervisors were accommodating with affording me annual leave and toil when requested for interview regimes with clients and for guidance sessions at university. I feel in the last few months when I was completing the writing up of my thesis this was difficult due to working full time, volunteering as a Psychotherapist for Inspire and then writing my work up late in the evenings.

I would suggest that perhaps for those employees that are funding their own education, whilst working full time and volunteering in the evenings could perhaps be offered some compensatory study days leave to support with their efforts and contributions, their knowledge will bestow within the company and should this be implemented for supervisors to be educated with regards to the support, encouragement and management of staff who are dedicated to their own ‘growth’.

Overall the experience was ‘challenging and enlightening’ but a journey of determination I would by no means change.

In short Inspire substance misuse service has contributed towards the scholar I am today."

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