My name is Chris Arridge and I have a perhaps contradictory set of hats I wear. For most of my week I am a Space Scientist studying the giant planets of our solar system and am a Reader in Planetary Physics at Lancaster University. For the rest of my week I am a counsellor/psychotherapist in the Person-Centred Tradition (humanistic therapy) working in private practice. I have particular interests and mental health and neurodiversity, across my counselling work, in academia, and in society-at-large. I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. I also give public talks, write, and dabble in illustration and graphic design.
For much of my career, starting with my PhD at Imperial College London, I have been involved in the NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn/Titan. I am also involved in ESA’s JUICE mission to Jupiter and it’s largest moon Ganymede as a co-investigator on the J-MAG instrument, am involved in lobbying and designing future missions to Uranus and Neptune, and co-chaired the European Space Agency’s Voyage 2050, laying out the themes for ESA’s science programme through to 2050. My work involves a mixture of data analysis/data science, theory, and computer simulations.
Counselling and Psychotherapy
My own experiences of mental health difficulties and neurodiversity have sparked an interest in joining the helping professions. Following my higher education teaching qualification (PgCert) dissertation on mental health and introversion in higher education and experiences supporting disabled students, I completed an Introduction to Counselling Skills course in 2020 and started my path towards qualifying as a counsellor in January 2021 and qualified in November 2022. My training included over 100 hours volunteering my counselling skills in drug and alcohol addiction and recovery. I am trained in the person-centred tradition, pioneered by Carl Rogers in the 1940s, which is a humanistic therapy with a non-directive empathic approach at its core. The tradition is based on Rogers’ belief that every human being has the capacity to fulfil their own potential if offered the right conditions in which to do so. I am an individual member of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).
People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don’t find myself saying, “Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner.” I don’t try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.Carl Rogers, A Way of Being
Writing and Illustration
As part of my research work I have had cause to put together various illustrations, diagrams etc. over my 17 year career. I have also used illustration skills to make posters, flyers and so on for my swing dancing hobby. I continue this mainly for my own entertainment and education.
Alongside illustration I’ve also written numerous science articles for public audiences.