Research and publications

Please note: the resources and publications featured here are not considered an exhaustive list, so please contact us if there are other projects that should be added, or if you are conducting research into the PTMF and would like your details included.


Potential research/evaluation ideas

The Power Threat Meaning Framework is a major Division of Clinical Psychology-funded project to outline a conceptual alternative to the diagnostic model of psychological and emotional distress. 

The documents present a set of principles, and the DCP Power Threat Meaning Framework Subcommittee has been set up to collate examples of these principles being translated into practice.

The Committee also aims to support research and evaluation into all aspects of the Framework, so that they can feed back into its further development.

Potential research/evaluation ideas for students, trainees and researchers


Ongoing projects

Stian Olsson

Psychosocial Health Practitioner (Lindesnes Kommune, Norway)

Professor Tore Dag Bøe and his colleague Odd Kenneth Hillesund have been leading a PTMF-group of practitioners in Agder (southern part of Norway), who are trying out the Framework.

They are supervising Stian who is undertaking a Masters thesis titled: "How does practitioners and clients experience conversations based on the Power Threat Meaning Framework?".

The thesis is phenomenological-hermeneutical using Reflexive Thematic Analysis (Braun & Clarke).

Practitoners and clients after 3 conversations will be interviewed.

Stian can be contacted at [email protected].

Expected completion June 2024. 

Morgan, James & Dudley-Hick

University of Leicester

Using the Power Threat Meaning Framework to make sense of experiences parenting a child diagnosed with a learning disability: An exploration of fit and utility

  • Research suggests that parents of children diagnosed with a learning disability (LD) experience higher levels of distress and are sometimes viewed by professionals as problematic or 'lacking resilience'.
  • However, less attention has been paid to the distress parents experience as a result of the barriers they face from wider society and the way services are organised.
  • The Power Threat Meaning Framework (PTMF) is a way of helping people create more self-compassionate ways of understanding their experiences of distress (or suffering).
  • It was introduced as an alternative to psychiatric diagnoses and attempts to move away from asking "what is wrong with you?", to "What has happened to you?"
  • The Framework has been useful for different groups of people, but had not previously been explored with parents of children diagnosed with an LD.

Read more about using the PTMF when parenting a child with a learning disability.

Paul Rainey

University of Canterbury

  • Systematic Review: Representations of meaning and power in individual accounts of psychosis - a meta-ethnography of psychosis narratives

  • Narratives of trauma focused therapy for Psychosis. (ethic approved)

Moutsou, I.

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

A supportive intervention for Unaccompanied Refugee Minors, based on the Power-Threat-Meaning Framework

The proposed research concerns the development and study of a four-session supportive intervention for unaccompanied refugee and asylum-seeking minors (UAMs), based on the PowerThreat-Meaning Framework (Johnstone & Boyle, 2018), in collaboration with the Greek NGO "Arsis– Association for the Social Support of Youth". 

The research study aims to develop a tool for understanding and supporting UAMs, that can be used in their accommodation facilities as part of routine practice by any social scientist, regardless of her/his specialty or psychotherapeutic training. Furthermore, the study can contribute to the enrichment of the PTMF, through considering its application in understanding the UAMs' experience and contributing to their empowerment.

For questions, please contact: Irene Moutsou (PhD student) [email protected] orEugenie Georgaca (Associate Professor) [email protected].

Zoe Travers

Cardiff University

Clinical Psychologists needed for an interview study exploring the experience of using the Power Threat Meaning Framework in UK adult mental health settings

This doctoral research project is looking to explore psychologists' experiences of drawing upon the Power Threat Meaning Framework (Johnstone & Boyle, 2018) in their work and is looking to recruit qualified clinical psychologists who have experience of using ideas from the PTMF in a UK adult mental health context, to take part in an interview via zoom. Please see the attached advert for more information.

If you are interested in participating or have any questions, please contact [email protected].

Dan Warrender

Royal Gordon University - Aberdeen

Dan's PhD topic is 'borderline personality disorder'.

The PTMF is being used in this thesis. Research articles use PTMF where the validity of the 'BPD' construct is challenged.

Dan can be contacted at [email protected].

John Cromby

University of Leicester

John Cromby (University of Leicester) and colleagues are researching uptake and initial responses to the PTMF among professionals and experts by experience.

John can be contacted at [email protected].

Michelle Glascott

Northumbria University

Michelle Glascott (Northumbria University) and colleagues are looking to critically investigate a co-production approach to care organisation and provision (ReCoCo- Tyneside Recovery College; an entirely peer-led recovery college) alongside an evaluation of the efficacy of the PTMF as a means of understanding distress, as experienced by the students attending ReCoCo.

Michelle can be contacted at [email protected].

Nour Hadadj 

University of Leicester

Nour Hadadj (University of Leicester) is using the PTMF in her research into the effects of trauma and adversity on women refugee's ability to self-organise.

Nour can be contacted on [email protected].

Siobhan Beckwith

University of Huddersfield

Siobhan's doctoral research project is about mothers living apart from their children, exploring their mental health in the context of power, following removal of their children from their care by the state.

Drawing on the Power Threat Meaning Framework this study aims to locate participants' narratives within the social, cultural, and political contexts of their everyday lives.

Siobhan can be contacted at [email protected]

Rachael Stabler

University of Edinburgh

Doctorate of Clinical Psychology Thesis (expected Autumn 2023) - Power, Threat, Meaning and Repeated Self-Harm: A Qualitative Multi-Perspective Exploration of Service Responses.

Rachael can be contacted at: [email protected]

Dilara Omur

University of East London

How is the Power Threat Meaning Framework being used by Clinical Psychologists in Clinical Practice?   

Qualitative study exploring the different ways in which qualified Clinical Psychologists are using or drawing on the PTMF in their clinical work, and the factors that might be facilitating or hindering the frameworks use.  

The project is currently recruiting participants.

Interviews would take place online via MS Teams, you would not need to have an MS Teams account.

f you would be interested in discussing your experience, or would like more information, please contact Dilara at [email protected].

 Lauren McGregor and Georgie Ramsay

University of Leicester

 Lauren McGregor and Georgie Ramsay are exploring the utility and fit of the PTMF for making sense of climate distress amongst activists.

Completed papers

View a list of completed research papers


The January 2019 issue of Clinical Psychology Forum was a special edition, focusing on applied uses of the Power Threat Meaning Framework within human services and beyond.

It also includes an update from the project team one year on from publication of the original PTMF document. The reports on applied uses show that the framework can be highly effective and useful for many people, both in help-providing and help-seeking roles.


Podcasts and videos




  • M. Boyle & L. Johnstone (2020). A straight talking introduction to the Power Threat Meaning Framework. PCCS

    This introduction to the PTM Framework explains why a non-diagnostic approach is needed and presents the ideas and evidence behind the Framework in an accessible way. Readers are guided in using the Framework for themselves or with people they're working with or supporting. They are also encouraged to question some taken for granted assumptions about ourselves and the world. The book provides many additional resources for those who want to follow up the ideas, practices and sources of support for alternatives to diagnosis and medicalisation.
  • Liao, L-M. (2023) Variations in Sex Development: Medicine, Culture and Psychological Practice. Cambridge University Press

    In this book Lih-Mei Liao (former Head of Women's Health Psychological Services at UCL Hospitals and Hon. Reader, UCL Institute for Women's Health) situates the dilemmas facing people impacted by innate variations in sex characteristics, also known as intersex, in their cultural context. Almost without exception, service users experience medical interventions to approximate social norms for bodily appearance and function, as their individual choice. Likewise, medical practitioners tend to understand themselves as providing neutral and unbiased counsel on their interventions.

    Dr Liao draws on the PTM Framework to encourage professional and peer providers to identify and highlight negative operations of power in intersex medicine and the role of cultural messages in common meanings encountered in these settings. She provides clinical vignettes to suggest that the initial meaning given to a threatening experience need not be the last word on the subject or a mandate for medical 'normalisation'.