photo of Michelle Lefevre

Prof Michelle Lefevre

Post:Professor of Social Work (Social Work and Social Care)
Location:ESSEX HOUSE EH 221

Telephone numbers
UK:01273 877656
International:+44 1273 877656

Research expertise:
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Qualifications: Doctor of Social Work (DSW), MA Integrative Arts Psychotherapy, MA Social Work, Certificate in the Therapeutic and Educational Application of the Arts, Postqualifying Award in Social Work (PQSW), Approved Practice Teachers Award,  CQSW/PG Dip Social Work, B.Mus.


  • National Teaching Fellowship, awarded by the Higher Education Academy in 2015
  • Awarded  the BASW/Kay McDougall Prize by the British Journal of Social Work, for Lefevre, M., Hickle, K., Luckock, B. & Ruch, G. (2017) Building trust with children and young people at risk of Child Sexual Exploitation: the professional challenge’  British Journal of Social Work, 47(8), pp. 2456-2473.  The award is based on: Breadth of scholarship; Sophistication of theory; Rigour of research; Relevance to practice; International appeal.

Professional registration: Currently registered with Social Work England as a Social Worker; Registered with the UKCP (United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy) 2003-12 as an Integrative Arts Psychotherapist.

Career prior to academia: Prior to her academic career, Michelle qualified and practised as a social worker and arts psychotherapist. Her experience included forensic investigative interviewing of children, sex offender treatment, groupwork with partners of offenders, psychotherapy with children in care and adults and children who had experienced abuse, and providing expert witness assessments for the family courts. Michelle continued to work independently as a psychotherapist and expert witness until 2009. Michelle began contributing to professional development courses and qualifying training at Sussex in 2000 and joined the University of Sussex as a full-time academic in 2003.


Michelle Lefevre is Professor of Social Work and Director of CIRCY (the Centre for Innovation and Research in Childhood and Youth), which is a University research centre In recent years, Michelle has been Head of the Department of Social Work and Social Care, led the postgraduate CPD provision for the Department, and convened the Doctorate in Social Work.  As well as her research commitments, Michelle continues to teach on courses for social workers at both qualifying level and in continuing professional development and contributes to the MA and BA in Childhood & Youth.  Michelle has extensive experience of supervising doctoral research and welcomes applications from students interested in pursuing studies broadly relating to professionals' engagement and communication with children, child protection and child exploitation, domestic abuse, therapeutic perspectives, and relationship-based practice within Children's services.  

Community and Business


  • Project Board member for the Contextual Safeguarding Scale Up Project, which has been funded by the Big Lottery fund to create Contextual Safeguarding systems in three local authority sites across England and Wales until 2022.
  • Editorial board member of 'Child and Family Social Work' journal.
  • Member of the BASW Children and Families Policy, Practice and Education Group, and convenor of the subgroup on child sexual exploitation.
  • Member of the steering group for the BASW 80/20 campaign to increase the amount and quality of direct practice with children and families.
  • One of the regional co-ordinators for the South-East branch of the Centre for Social Work Practice.  
  • Co-convenor of the European Social Work Research Association Special Interest Group on social work with children and families across Europe.  
  • Fellow of the RSA. 
  • Member of the Sussex Family Justice Circle planning group.


  • Editor-in-Chief of 'Child and Family Social Work' 2014-18.
  • Deputy Editor of 'Social Work Education: The International Journal' 2009-14
  • An elected member of The College of Social Work Children and Families Faculty Steering Group in 2015
  • Member of the UKCP Psychotherapy with Children Committee 2004-8, providing expertise on child protection issues, and in 2017-18 contributed to an expert reference group setting standards of proficiency for humanistic and integrative psychotherapists under the auspices of the HCPC who work with children and young people.

Previous External Examining positions: Doctor of Social Work/Social Care programme at the Tavistock/UEL; MA Social Work programme ' Step up to Social Work' at Manchester Metropolitan University; MA Social Work programme at Oxford Brookes; Royal Holloway's PQ Social Work programme.