Noreen Giffney
  • Shore Road, Jordanstown Campus

    BT37 0QB Newtownabbey

    United Kingdom


Research activity per year

Personal profile


Life Before Ulster

Dr Noreen Giffney BA Hons, PhD, MSc, Clin Dip, MIFPP, MICP is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist and a psychosocial theorist. Before taking up the position of Lecturer in Counselling at Ulster University in 2017, she worked at a number of universities in Ireland and the UK, including University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, the University of Limerick, and Birkbeck, University of London.

She graduated with a BA (Hons) in History and English Language and Literature from University College Dublin and an interdisciplinary PhD in close textual analysis, critical theory and Medieval Studies also from University College Dublin. She completed an MSc in Clinical Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy in the Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine at Trinity College Dublin and a Diploma in Clinical Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy at the Irish Institute of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. She undertook further training in Motivational Interviewing (MI) at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust in London and basic training in Mentalization-Based Treatment (MBT) at the Anna Freud Centre in London, in association with University College London. She is currently undertaking a continuing professional development course on Introducing Psychoanalytic Ideas on Violence, Delinquency and Sexual Deviation delivered by forensic psychiatrists, psychoanalysts and psychotherapists at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, London.

She has worked in the third-level sector since 1997, specialising in the fields of psychoanalysis, psychosocial studies, critical theory, gender and sexuality studies, and visual culture. She is a founding scholar of the British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC), a member of the Executive Committee of the Association for Psychosocial Studies (APS), and a fully-accredited clinical member of the the Irish Forum for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (IFPP) and the Psychoanalytic Section of the Irish Council for Psychotherapy (ICP). She is also a member of the International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy (IAFP).



Noreen specialises in interdisciplinary approaches to clinical and theoretical research, and has over 50 publications.

Her research engages with clinical psychoanalysis and the field of psychosocial studies to explore the central importance played by cultural objects in the emotional and unconscious lives of patients and psychoanalytic clinical practitioners inside and outside the consulting room. She is the author of the book, The Culture-Breast in Psychoanalysis: Cultural Experiences and the Clinic (Routledge 2021).

She is also interested in the impact of psychosocial factors on the unconscious dynamics – transference and countertransference – underpinning the analytic relationship. She is the co-editor of Clinical Encounters in Sexuality: Psychoanalytic Practice and Queer Theory (2017).

She has, moreover, published a number of clinical articles on the writings of the psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion in international, peer-reviewed journals, focusing particularly on his theory of thinking and his writings on desire, memory and understanding. These articles are entitled: "Desire in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy: The Writings of W.R. Bion"; "Desiring (with) Bion: An Experience in Reading""Sex as Evacuation"; "A Theory of Thinking: A Theory of Desiring", and "The Use of an Object".

She has published many additional peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and has co-edited a further five books on feminist and queer theories of gender and sexuality: The Ashgate Companion to Queer Theory (Ashgate 2009, re-pub Routlege 2017); Queering the Non/Human (Ashgate 2008, repub. Routledge 2016); The Lesbian Premodern (Palgrave Macmillan 2011); Theory on the Edge: Irish Studies and the Politics of Sexual Difference (Palgrave Macmillan 2013); and Twenty-First Century Lesbian Studies (Routledge 2007). She has also co-edited a number of special issues of international peer-reviewed journals.

She has held editing positions with international publishers: She is currently a member of the Editorial Team for New Associations (British Psychoanalytic Council) and Contributing Editor, Studies in Gender & Sexuality (Routledge). She was formerly Series Co-Editor, "Queer Interventions" book series (Ashgate); and Humanities Book Review Editor, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian & Gay Studies (Duke University Press). She has also served on the Editorial Boards for a number of international, peer-reviewed journals, including Postmedieval: A Journal of Medieval Cultural Studies (Palgrave Macmillan) and The Journal of Lesbian Studies (Taylor and Francis). She has also reviewed article submissions for a number of international, peer-reviewed journals.

She has undertaken qualitative reviews for clinical and academic organisations on clinical accreditation criteria; the clinical, ethical, legal, and technical benefits and challenges of offering Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy to patients online and by telephone; and the delivery of third-level programmes.


Teaching and Supervision

Noreen is committed to facilitating students learning from experience through developing their observation and analytical skills and their capacity for self-awareness and self-reflectivity. She specialises in teaching psychoanalytic and psychosocial theories with the use of cultural objects (film, art, literature, music) as case studies and vignettes. She formulated and developed a new psychoanalytic pedagogical method entitled "The Cultural Encounters Case Study Method”, which brings together clinical concepts and cultural objects as creative sites for playing with ideas through encounter and experience. In opening up spaces for thinking and feeling, the Method provides opportunities to work towards integrating theoretical knowledge with capacities and skills required for clinical practice. Further information about the Method is available in Chapter 2, 'Engagements with Cultural Objects as Case Study', of her book, The Culture-Breast in Psychoanalysis. She has written recently about the importance of theoretical-experiential pedagogies when teaching psychoanalytic concepts in 'How Do We Teach Psychoanalytic Theory?' in New Associations 39 (2023).

She is the Course Director of the MSc Counselling Studies and Health Communication at Ulster University. Noreen and her colleagues in the Counselling and Health Communication Team were awarded the Ulster University Students' Union Learning and Teaching Award for Team of the Year in 2018.

She is an External Examiner at Birkbeck, University of London and the University of Essex. 


Enquiries from Prospective PhD and Postdoctoral Researchers

Noreen welcomes enquiries from prospective PhD and postdoctoral researchers interested in undertaking theoretical and/or clinical research in one of the following fields: psychoanalysis, psychosocial studies, critical theory, gender and sexuality studies, visual culture.


Civic Roles

Noreen has organised over 200 academic, clinical and public events over the past twenty years.

She is the Director of “Psychoanalysis +” (2013- ), an international, interdisciplinary initiative that brings together clinical, theoretical and artistic approaches to, and applications of, psychoanalysis. Large public events have taken place in, for example, the National Museum of Decorative Arts and History, Science Gallery Dublin, Filmbase, IMMA – The Irish Museum of Modern Art, and the Freud Museum in London.

She has been a member of a number of clinical committees, including the Education Sub-Committee, the Trauma Working Group, and (as Chair) the Accreditation Review Working Group in the Irish Forum for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. She has also been invited to undertake reviews of clinical teaching and accreditation standards and procedures in Ireland and the UK. 

She has convened a number of public events as part of the "Mental Health & the Arts" interdisciplinary, cross-border initiative, which she directed with Dr Maggie Long and Dr Jolene Mairs Dyer in 2018-2022.

She was the convener (with Michael O’Rourke) of “The(e)ories: Critical Theory & Sexuality Studies” (2002-2013), which brought many of the world’s most eminent theorists on sexuality and gender to Ireland.

She is currently convening a new international, interdisciplinary Psychoanalysis and the Psychosocial Discussion Group, which commenced meeting online in January 2022 and continues this year.


Further Information

Research Interests

  • Psychoanalysis, particularly the Kleinian and British Independent traditions
  • Psychosocial studies
  • Gender and sexuality studies
  • Visual culture
  • Theoretical and qualitative (particularly psychosocial methodologies) approaches to research

Teaching Interests

  • Psychoanalysis
  • Psychosocial studies
  • Theories of counselling and psychotherapy
  • Theoretical-experiential methodologies: The Cultural Encounters Case Study Method
  • Mental health and the arts and culture

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Diploma in Clinical Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, Irish Institute of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy

Master, Clinical Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, Trinity College Dublin

Bachelor, BA (Hons) English and History, University College Dublin

PhD, Textual analysis, critical theory, medieval studies, University College Dublin

External positions

Member of the Executive Committee, Association for Psychosocial Studies (APS)

2023 → …

Member, International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy (IAFP)

2023 → …

Editorial Team, New Associations magazine, British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC)

2021 → …

Chair, Clinical Accreditation Review Working Group, Irish Forum for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (IFPP), Irish Forum for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (IFPP)


Member, Trauma Working Group, Irish Forum for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (IFPP), Irish Institute of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy


Member, Education Sub-Committee, Irish Forum for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (IFPP), Irish Forum for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (IFPP)


Founding Scholar, British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC), British Psychoanalytic Council (BPC)

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist: fully-accredited clinical member, Irish Forum for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (IFPP), Irish Forum for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy (IFPP)

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist: fully-accredited clinical member, Psychoanalytic Section of the Irish Council for Psychotherapy (ICP), Psychoanalytic Section, Irish Council for Psychotherapy (ICP)


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