a qualitative exploration into the effect of nick-names on personal histories


  • Nick Bowles
  • Beatriz Moreno
  • Celia Psaila
  • Andrew Smith


This piece of qualitative research explores the impact of nicknames upon the researchers. The research shows that nicknames function positively and negatively, and can either disturb contact on the Gestalt Cycle or benefit contact.  This research highlights its limitations, and suggests ways of building upon its findings.

Author Biography

Andrew Smith

We are four trainee psychotherapists, and this is a piece of collaborative research forms one part of the requirements for the professional Diploma in Gestalt Psychotherapy leading to registration by the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy. The research results from studying the module on human development at the Scarborough Psychotherapy Institute, as part of post-graduate training in Gestalt Psychotherapy. Our topic is Nicknames, and we felt that this impacted upon our own personal histories.

Name-calling, unkind nicknames and other forms of verbal harassment represent some of the most prevalent forms of bullying. As researchers, we found out immediately that there is very little literature on the subject, particularly within the field  of psychotherapy. We found that name-calling, and nicknames in particular, are ambiguous social events that can serve positive as well negative goals, and their adverse consequences can be difficult to identify.

To contact the authors of this article please address correspondence to:

Andrew Smith




How to Cite

Bowles, N., Moreno, B., Psaila, C., & Smith, A. (2009). Nicknames:: a qualitative exploration into the effect of nick-names on personal histories. European Journal for Qualitative Research in Psychotherapy, (4), 40–47. Retrieved from