Dr Gail Simon

Principal Lecturer in Systemic Practice

Gail Simon


Practitioner Research

I lead the Professional Doctorate in Systemic Practice which is a PhD equivalent research degree for systemic professionals. I specialise in practitioner research as a qualitative researcher, as a tutor, supervisor, writer and methodologist, My main interest is in supporting relationally reflexive practice as a form of transformative inquiry. The contemporary approaches of systemic - social constructionist - collaborative - reflexive - dialogical - narrative - appreciative - relational - embodied ways of knowing and know-how, doing and being lend themselves well to using action research, the new ethnographies and other first person qualitative approaches to study of one's professional practice. I consult and supervise the research of those working in the fields of therapy, organisational development, leadership, and education.

Research Interests

  • Systemic Practice and Autism
  • Systemic inquiry as qualitative inquiry
  • Performative writing and performance
  • Dialogical pop-up spaces as a form of inquiry and intervention
  • Research ethics in counselling and psychotherapy and practice research
  • Criteria for quality in practitioner research

Research Supervision

I supervise doctoral researchers on the Professional Doctorate in Systemic Practice from the professions of therapy, leadership and education and I have supervised five doctoral students to successful completion. I have also supervised fifteen research dissertations at masters level.

Research Examinations

I have examined ten doctorates to date in the UK, Canada, USA, Australia and the Netherlands; one as internal examiner and nine as external examiner.

Recent Research Projects

  • Criteria for Assessing Quality in Systemic Research
  • Assessing Reflexivity in Professional Practice
  • Dialogical pop-up spaces, Baltic Art Centre, Sweden
  • Writing as a relational practice
  • "The Other in The Text" - A play discussing writing, ethics, truth and power
  • Family therapy where a child has Asperger Syndrome/ High Functioning Autism

Other Research Activities

  • Research Expert Reference Group, Association for Family Therapy & Systemic Practice
  • Institute of Applied Social Research Ethics Committee
  • Autism Bedfordshire: Innovation Bridge Research
  • Autism Research Network Forum, University of Bedfordshire
  • Reflexivity in Professional Doctorates - Special Interest Group
  • Systemic Therapy with High Functioning Autism/ Asperger Syndrome. Special Interest Group
  • Reflexivity in Research International Symposium, University of Strathclyde.
  • Måfå Research Group. Dialogical Space research projects. www.mafaresearch.com

Editorial and Reviewing Work

  • Editor, Murmurations: Journal of Transformative Systemic Practice.
  • International Advisory Board member, International Journal for Collaborative Practice
  • Editor, Everything is Connected Press
  • Guest Editor, Journal of Family Therapy & Context
  • Reviewer for
    • Journal of Family Therapy
    • Child Abuse Review
    • Counselling and Psychotherapy Research Journal
    • International Journal for Collaborative Practice
    • Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning
    • Human Systems: The Journal of Therapy, Consultation and Training

Systemic Practice Experience

Teaching of Systemic Therapy and Research

I have over 20 years' experience of systemic practice and research teaching. I taught systemic therapy at KCC London, University of Leeds, University of Manchester, and the Relate Institute. I have been guest lecturer at Clanwilliam Institute, Dublin; Tavistock Clinic, London; University of Leicester; Diakonhjemmet Høgskole, Oslo, Norway; Institute of Family Therapy, London; Institute of Psychiatry, London; University of Bradford; University of Manchester; University of Bristol. I introduced research curricula and teaching at The Relate Institute on the MA and MSc Relationship Therapy.

Systemic Therapy Practice

I co-founded The Pink Practice, a lesbian, gay, transgender and queer systemic therapy practice in London over 20 years ago. This is still my practice home where I now supervise. I have used this context as a springboard to make connections with other areas of lived experience which can result in oppressive practices and cultures. My work experience has taken place in a variety of independent and statutory settings. I have worked as a systemic therapist in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in the NHS and for Local Authorities. In the independent sector, I worked as consultant supervisor, trainer, team manager, systemic therapist, community worker and clinical director. Organisations where I have worked include Bradford District NHS Care Trust; London Borough of Brent; London Borough of Haringey; London Borough of Camden; Relate Bradford; Off Centre in Hackney; Alone in London Service; and The Pink Practice.


  • Professional Doctorate in Systemic Practice
  • MA Systemic Practice
  • PG Dip Systemic Therapy with Individuals, Couples and Families
  • Counselling Supervision training
  • Diploma in Art and Design
  • Certificate of Qualification in Social Work (CQSW)
  • BA (Hons) Sociology with Professional Studies

Professional Memberships

  • 2016 - National Association for Writers in Education.
  • 2012 - Society of Authors. Memb. No. 55543
  • 2012 - Taos Institute. Associate.
  • 2010 - Association of Family Therapy - Reg. Psychotherapist and Supervisor, Memb. No. 1251738
  • 1999 - Association of Family and Systemic Therapy (AFT)
  • 1996-2010 - Kensington Consultation Centre - Registered Supervisor
  • 1994 - United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy - Registered Psychotherapist no. 940203
  • 1993-2010 - Kensington Consultation Centre Professional Register – Registered Psychotherapist
  • 1992-2015 British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy – Reg. Member no. 508634


Recent Publications

  • Simon, Gail; Wickens, Mairi; Cano Urbistondo, Francisco; Helps, Sarah & Vlam, Ingrid (forthcoming). Autism and Systemic Family Therapy . Chapter in Vol. IV Systemic Family Therapy and Global Health Issues for Family Therapy, The Handbook of Systemic Family Therapy. Wiley.
  • Simon, Gail (forthcoming). Eight Criteria for Quality in Systemic Practitioner Research. In Ochs, M., Borcsa, M. & Schweitzer, J. (eds.). Linking Systemic Research and Practice – Innovations in paradigms, strategies and methods. (European Family Therapy Association Series, Volume 4). Cham: Springer International.
  • Simon, Gail (2016). Thinking Systems. Mind as relational activity. Opportunities for communicating within relationships. Chapter in Re-thinking Autism. Eds. Mallett, Rebecca; Runswick-Cole, Kathrine & Timimi, Sami. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
  • Simon, Gail (2016). Systemic Therapy as Systemic Inquiry as Transformative Research. In Systemic Therapy as Transformative Practice. Eds. Imelda McCarthy & Gail Simon. Farnhill: Everything is Connected Press.
  • Simon, Gail (2014) Systemic Inquiry. Innovations in Reflexive Practice Research. Farnhill: Everything is Connected Press.
  • Simon, Gail (2014). Beyond the Spoken Word. Chapter in Creative Positions in Adult Mental Health. Outside-In : Inside Out. Eds. K. Partridge & S. McNab. London: Karnac.
  • Simon, Gail (2010). Critical Thinking: A first step towards good practice in training. In C. Lago & B. Smith (Eds.), Anti- Discriminatory Counselling and Psychotherapy Practice. Pp 149-162. London: Sage Publications.
  • Simon, Gail & Whitfield, Gwyn (2000). Systemic and Social Constructionist Therapy. Chapter in D. Davies & C. Neal (Eds.), Pink Therapy II: Theoretical Perspectives in Working with Lesbians, Gay Men and Bisexuals. Open University Press.
  • Simon, Gail (1996). Working with People in Relationships. Chapter in Pink Therapy, eds. D. Davies & C. Neal. Open University Press.
Peer Reviewed Papers
Other Papers
  • Simon, Gail & Whitfield, Gwyn (2010). Transgressive Lives, Transgressive Practices. Context. October 2010.
  • Simon, Gail (2010). Down to the Wire. Context. October 2010. Association for Systemic Family Therapy Publications.
Edited Journals


Invited Speaker and Keynotes

  • 2018 Intimacy as a form of Collaborative Inquiry. PPIS Family Therapy Conference, Singapore. Rethinking Intimacy and Culture in Systemic Practice and Research.
  • 2018 Eight Criteria for Quality in Systemic Practitioner Research. 2nd Postgraduate Research Conference, UoB & Tavistock Clinic.
  • 2018 Are we not already researchers? GCK Family Therapy Institute, Gothenburg, Sweden.
  • 2017 Symposium on Systemic PhDs . Systemic Practice and Research Conference, University of Heidelberg, March 2017.
  • 2016 Teaching Systemic Research. Singapore Family Therapy Association Annual Conference. October 2016.
  • 2016 Waving not drowning, and living out of one͛s depth . Association for Family and Systemic Therapy Annual Conference. Brighton, September 2016.
  • 2015 Thinking Systems. ͚Mind͛ as Relational Activity. Opportunities for communicating within relationships . National Autistic Society. Autism and Communications Conference. Leeds. Nov 2015.
  • 2013 Communication, connection and co-ordination between family members. Autism Today, London.
  • 2013 Blurring distinctions and living embodied relationality across systemic practice. Embodiment in Systemic Supervision Conference. Friends of KCC. London
  • 2007 Self-Supervision, Surveillance and Transgression. Systemic Supervision Conference, Tavistock Clinic, London.
  • 2006 Relationship therapy as a political act: beyond individualising practices . Pink Therapy Conference, London.
  • 2005 Working with difference and power in therapy. British Psychological Society, Division of Counselling Psychology, Manchester.

Recent Conference Presentations

2018    Writing in our own voices. Resisting academic dissociation. Qualitative Research in Mental Health 2018. Berlin..

  • 2018 Reflexive Ethnography. European Congress of Qualitative Inquiry. Katholic University, Leuven, Belgium. February 2018
  • 2017 Criteria for Evaluating Quality in Systemic Practice Research. The Big Research Conversation, Association for Family Therapy, London.
  • 2017 Criteria for Evaluating Quality in Systemic Practice Research. Systemic Practice Research Conference. University of Heidleberg. March 2017.
  • 2017 The socioacoustics of talk in research writing. European Congress of Qualitative Inquiry. Katholic University, Leuven, Belgium. February 2017.
  • 2017 Preparing for the rehabilitation of reflexivity in research. European Congress of Qualitative Inquiry. Katholic University, Leuven, Belgium. February 2017.
  • 2016 Systemic Therapy as Transformative Practice. Singapore Family Therapy Association Annual Conference, October 2016
  • 2016 Finding descriptions of movement in relational inter-activity. Bedfordshire International Systemic Winter School.
  • 2016 Local and Global Reflexivity in Research Practice. International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, University of Illinois.
  • 2015 Relational Ethnography: Writing and Reading in and about Research Relationships. International Congress Qualitative Inquiry, University of Illinois.
  • 2014 Assessing Reflexivity in Practice Research. 5th International Conference in Professional Doctorates, Cardiff.
  • 2014 Relational Ethnography: Writing and Reading in and about Research Relationships. British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy Research Conference, London.
  • 2014 Ventriloquation and Ghost Writing as Responses to Oppression. 15th International Bakhtin Conference, Stockholm.
  • 2014 Innovations in Reflexive and Dialogical Systemic Practitioner Research. European Conference on Systemic Research in Therapy, Education and Organizational Development, University of Heidelberg.
  • 2013 New Forms of Systemic Inquiry: Developments in Reflexive Practitioner Research. European Family Therapy Association Congress, Istanbul.
  • 2013 Writing as Systemic Practice. European Family Therapy Association Congress, Istanbul.
  • 2013 Researching with a Systemic Social Justice Agenda. Association of Systemic and Family Therapy Conference. Imperial College, London.
  • 2013 Developing Reflexive Research Writing and the Emergence of New Ways of Knowing. International Conference on Developments in Doctoral Education and Training. UK Council for Graduate Education. Edinburgh.
  • 2011 A relational turn for qualitative research in counselling and psychotherapy? British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy Research Conference, Liverpool.
  • 2011 Writing Inquiry as a Transformational Challenge to Power in Therapeutic Practice. International Congress Qualitative Inquiry, University of Illinois.
  • 2011 No-one is Illegal: Autoethnography as Lesbian Activism. International Congress Qualitative Inquiry, University of Illinois.
  • 2010 Hearing Voices for Written Conversation in Research. Vital Signs 2: Engaging Research Imaginations, University of Manchester.
  • 2010 Dialogical Writing: A Challenge for Practitioner-Researchers. International Congress Qualitative Inquiry, University of Illinois.
  • 2010 Reflexivity in Practitioner Research. Research Symposium, The Relate Institute
  • 2010 Developments in Qualitative Inquiry. Research and Scholarship Forum, University College, Doncaster.
  • 2010 Writing for Readers: A Challenge for Practitioner Researchers. British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy Research Conference, London.
  • 2009 Dialogical Reflexive Writing in Practice. Training in a Woman's Voice, KCC Foundation, London.
  • 2009 A Doctoral Journey. Research and Development Forum, University College, Doncaster.
  • 2009 Writing Practice: a challenge for practitioner-researchers. Post-Graduate Research Conference, Social Sciences and Management, University of Bradford.
  • 2008 Writing in Practice. KCC Summer School, KCC Foundation, London.


Beyond work, I love living in the countryside and working in town. This gives me a good mix of night skies, green hills and urban culture. I enjoy hanging out with family and friends, doing some sketching and photography especially when combined with walking and nature.


Contact Details

Luton campus
University Square
Luton LU1 3JU

E: gail.simon@beds.ac.uk

Contact Us

By telephone
During office hours
(Monday-Friday 08:30-17:00)
+44 (0)1234 400 400

Outside office hours
(Campus Watch)
+44 (0)1582 74 39 89

By email
sid@beds.ac.uk (student support)
help@beds.ac.uk (registration)
erasmus@beds.ac.uk (exchanges)

By post
University of Bedfordshire
University Square