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Mikkel Kenni Bruun (2015)

Mikkel Kenni Bruun (2015)

Research Title: Scientific Persuasions: ethnographic reflections on evidence-based psychological therapy

Supervisor: Dr Maryon McDonald


My doctoral research examines the practice of evidence-based psychological therapy in the UK. It focusses primarily on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or ‘CBT’ with specific reference to the training of therapists and the IAPT [Improving Access to Psychological Therapies] service provided by the NHS. The thesis is based on 18 months of fieldwork in a community centre in South London and a university training course in Northern England, including professional conferences, meetings, and related sites of ethnographic interest. The research is funded jointly by the Economic & Social Research Council and Pembroke College.

I studied Social Anthropology as an undergraduate at the University of Cambridge where I wrote a dissertation on clinical psychologists and clinician-client relations. I hold a Master of Research in Medical Anthropology from University College London, for which I completed a thesis on psychodynamic child therapy. The doctoral research is thus in part a continuation of previous ethnographic fieldwork and interest in various aspects of ‘mental healthcare’.

Prior to the PhD, I worked in the CIPP Research Team under Prof Paramala Santosh at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, King’s College London, and the South London & Maudsley Hospital NHS Trust (SLaM). I am a Student Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute and a member of the British Psychological Society. 

Research Interests

Medical anthropology and anthropology of science; mental health, personhood and care; evidence-based practice; public health and the NHS (IAPT); psychotherapeutics; notions of ‘subjectivity’ and ‘objectivity’; history and philosophy of psychology and cognitive science; anthropological theory. Europe; UK and Scandinavia.



Undergraduate supervision

SAN3 - Anthropological Theory and Methods

SAN5 - Ethical Life and the Anthropology of the Subject

SAN9 - Science and Society

Key Publications

2018 'Studying psychological therapies: an ethnographic approach to “metacognition”’. Paper presented to ASA: Sociality, matter, and the imagination: re-creating Anthropology, University of Oxford. 

2018 ‘The Aesthetics of Modelling: patterns, politics and pleasure in visual representations’ (convenor, with A. Pearson). Conference panel conducted at Art, Materiality and Representation, Royal Anthropological Institute, SOAS and British Museum.

2017 (in press) ‘The Corporeality of Magic’ in A. Bosselmann-Ruickbie and L. Ruickbie (eds.) The Material Culture of Magic. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers. 

2017 ‘Mental health and cognitive behaviour therapy in the UK’. Monologue for Two. The Ministry of Counterculture []

2014 ‘Finding a language of analysis: the problem of “embodiment” in the study of psychotherapy’. Paper presented to Risk, Embodiment and HealthTechnologies, University College London.

2014 ‘Healing the mind: clinical psychologists and mental healthcare’. Paper presented to Whither Anthropology? Department of Anthropology, University College London.