Power, relationships and ethics in counselling psychology
Introduction This portfolio focuses on the issues of power and ethics within relationship in the practice of counselling psychology. The impetus behind the work came from a desire to acknowledge that power is part of all relationships and as the practice of counselling psychology is based on relationship it would be interesting to explore the impact of the power dynamic within three different types of relationship contexts. The aim of the work is to explore relationships within counselling psychology in terms of power dynamics and consider the ethical issues and challenges that these may raise for counselling psychologists. The portfolio includes an exploration of three types of relationship that counselling psychologists are typically engaged with; the therapeutic relationship with the client, the supervisory relationship with the supervisee and the research relationship with the research participant. Each type of relationship is examined with a view to identifying how power is exercised and perceived and what challenges this raises for counselling psychologists in terms of ethical issues. Section A: Preface In the preface I firstly provide a summary of my career history to date and secondly an overview of the other three sections included in the portfolio. It is my aim to show consistency across the areas of my research and their relevance to the profession of counselling psychology. Section B: Research: An exploration of the dynamics of power within a therapeutic relationship. Section B comprises a report on a study into the dynamics of power within a therapeutic relationship. The purpose of the study was to identify strategies used within therapeutic discourse to manage the therapeutic relationship with particular reference to the dynamic of power. The study uses a micro-analytical technique to analyse the interaction between the therapist and client in one twenty minute film clip from a therapy session conducted by Dr Carl Rogers. The conclusions of the study suggest that communication between therapist and client occurs on a number of levels and serves a number of functions. One of these functions is to manage the power dynamic within the relationship. The methodology used in this study proves a useful tool for counselling psychologists to study process aspects of psychotherapy and the theoretical base in critical theory, post-modern philosophy and linguistics offers an additional body of knowledge which may enlighten our understanding of the therapeutic process. Section C Case work: Reflections on clinical supervision: an analysis of the supervisory relationship with three supervisees. Section C provides an analysis of three supervisory relationships experienced in my role as a clinical supervisor. This section continues the theme of relationship and explores the way in which counselling psychologists may function as supervisors within their professional context. Although there are many models of supervision within the literature, few of these are specifically relevant to counselling psychology. Supervision is a process with enormous influence in the training of professional therapists and it may be the case that as counselling psychologists we need to consider our responsibilities as supervisors in the development of the profession. Section D Critical Review of the Literature: Ethical Issues in interview based qualitative research in counselling psychology Section D concludes the portfolio with a literature review on ethical issues in qualitative research in counselling psychology, again highlighting the importance of relationship. This review focuses on the overlap between research and practice in counselling psychology. As scientist-practitioners counselling psychologists base their practice on research findings and in recent years there has been a growth in the use of qualitative methodologies within therapeutic research. In particular the qualitative interview has many similarities with a therapeutic interview and much of the literature reviewed presents this as a positive parallel. The review explores the similarities and differences between therapeutic and research relationships and the ethics of fading the boundary between the two.