how to find free online psychotherapy resources
Finding free, evidence based and reliable resources online can be difficult, especially if you don’t have institutional access. So in this post we have compiled a list of links and resources that can help you find the information you need. From academic texts to professional commentary, these websites can all help you to find peer-reviewed academic texts and commentary without having to pay.
social media and search engines
academia and research gate
Both of these social networks allow researchers and scholars to upload their papers for us to read and download for free. You have to register to use them, but it is easy to do and costs nothing. You can also build your professional networks by following and connecting with the people whose work you find interesting.
Once you’re registered, simply type in some key words in the search bar and away you go. By adding articles and papers to your library, and by following people, both platforms will quickly get an idea of what you are interested in and suggest similar articles for you to read. You can also see what your peers are reading or get notifications when they upload something new.
Access these websites here:
Google Scholar provides links for freely downloadable texts. Use it in the same way as Google, by searching for key words. You can filter the results by year, but other than that it is quite a simple search engine. It orders results by most cited and most recently published, so is a quick and convenient way to find current and popular papers.
Google Books is a little different. Google have digitised a large collection of books that you can view either in their entirety or as a “preview”. The good news is that these previews tend to be quite big. For example, ‘Psychology: Second European Edition’ includes all of chapter 1 “The evolution of a science” and 90% of chapter 13 “personality” and “The Psychology of Food Choice” by Shepherd and Raats is only missing a single chapter. Once again, you can use Google Books by searching for keywords, specific authors, ISBN or specific titles.
open access libraries
Another good place to look for free resources is through open access publication resources. These are available through universities, research bodies and private services. Some of the best ones are listed below.
Several universities in the UK now have online repositories for the theses and aritcles produced by their researchers. If there is research from a particular university you wish to explore, start by visitng their library website. You will either see a link on the main library page for their "e-theses" or "research repository", or you can use the search bar to look for what you need. Once your search results are back, you will be able to filter for open access resources.
UCL Discovery is University College London’s online directory of open access publications produced by UCL students, researchers and staff. A search for “Psychology” returns over 9,400 articles, book chapters, doctoral theses and more, all free to download and with no need to register.
Oxford University also have a directory of the publications coming out of their university, which includes many open access resources. Search by keyword and look for the green padlock symbol beneath each listing.
The White Rose etheses online repository includes theses from University of Leeds, The University of Sheffield and University of York. Again, these are all available to download for free.
other libraries and collections
Directory of Open Access Journals collects open access journals from a range of publications, including Frontiers in Psychology, Cogent Psychology and Evolutionary Psychology, as well as other language journals from across the world. Over 74,000 articles related to psychology are available here. You can search for specific keywords, or browse by subject.
The British Library hosts an e-thesis online service here, covering most universities in the UK. Look for the green padlock for open access and ‘available to download’ theses.
The Wellcome Library has an extensive catalogue of material available online, including psychotherapy resources. You can search the catalogue, or explore resources within their mental healthcare collection.
This is a fully open access online library, that includes several psychotherapy (and related) academic books.
The SALIS Collection: Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs is a free online collection of literature related to alcohol, tobacco and drug addiction. It includes a lot of German language literature, but also plenty of English language texts.
open access journals
There are several key open access journals, or journals with open access issues and articles. Here is a list of some of those that are easier to search, but it is always worth regularly checking journal websites for open access papers - you never know what you might find! Most journals will also send updates about new issues and open access articles if you subscribe to their news letters.
Cambridge Core allows you to search and filter all of their journals (published through Cambridge University Press) for “Open Access” and “Contains open Access”.
British Journal of Psychiatry has many open access articles available for download, including papers, short reports and review articles.
Psychotherapy Research have published a smaller number of open access articles each year, such as “How and when immersion and distancing are useful in emotionally focused therapy for depression” or “Learning from clients: a qualitative investigation of psychotherapist’s reactions to negative verbal feedback”.
Open access articles from The Arts in Psychotherapy journal. These include “Art therapy for military service members with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury…” and “The Art Room: an evaluation of a targeted school-base group intervention for students with emotional and behavioral difficulties”.
Art Therapy Online is Goldsmith Universities open access art therapy journal. This journal features arts therapy research and case studies carried out by Goldsmiths University, including articles such as “In the margins: Art therapy with a homeless man under the influence of alcohol” and “Senses of memory in dementia care: the transcendent subject”
Research in Psychotherapy: Psychopathology, Process and Outcome. Another fully open access journal, published by the Italian Area Group of the Society for Psychotherapy Research. Articles in recent issues include: “Transference interpretations as predictors of increased insight and affect expression in a single case of long-term psychoanalysis”, “Is it possible to improve early childhood development with a video-feedback intervention directed at the mother-father-child triad?” and “I am surrounded by death: death as a defining psychic issue within a relational psychoanalytic engagement and the impact of the therapist’s relationship with death”
Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, the BACP journal, update their free sample issue annually. This can be found here, and includes articles on predictors of men’s psychotherapy preferences and BAME counsellors’ experiences of working with white clients.
Another good resource is blogs by professionals (clinicians, researchers and/or health care professionals). Some of these can provide a lot of detail in their reviews of new research and scientific papers that are otherwise difficult to access, such as The Mental Elf and the Centre For Mental Health blog.
The Mental Elf is part of the National Elf Service, a blog which provides up-to-date and reliable mental health research and guidance. It’s written by a group of experts (including clinicians, researchers, health care professionals, service users and academics). Recent posts include a detailed overview and review of the newly updated ISTSS recommendations and guidelines on treating PTSD in children and young people and a qualitative review on how knitting can improve emotional health. Links to further information (and the original research publication) are provided at the bottom of each post.
Essentially, Mental Elf provides a great way to access new, important research that is otherwise hidden behind a paywall.
The Centre For Mental Health has a selection of publications and reviews which include primary research and recommendation guidelines on a range of topics. These include a guide to the principles of trauma based care, and an economic evaluation of specialist baby loss counselling, for example.
If you know of any other useful resources please let us know so that we can add them to this blog.
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