Stability and perturbation in counselling training : a case study
This thesis explores stability and perturbation in learning situated in a counselling training culture that is shaped by humanistic-integrative core theory values. The case study on which the thesis is based focuses on a group of six students and two tutors on a Diploma in Counselling and Human Relations course. As an integral part of the training programme, the participants were asked to use a conceptual model imported from a psychotherapy context. This model was initially chosen for the purposes of evaluating its effectiveness as a learning tool for use in counselling training. During the study, the emphasis changed to an interest in understanding how use of this model affected the process of learning. The thesis is based on an in-depth analysis of the impact of this model on the learning process in the group. The case study is shaped by an `action research' (McCutcheon et al., 1987) model that both reflects the inquirer's position as a tutor and researcher in the counselling community investigated and the professional development dimension of the research. Data was gathered over a period of seven months, using individual and group interviews, and observations of participants' training practices. The research methodology stems from an interpretivist, or hermeneutic tradition of story telling. Within the qualitative parameters of this philosophical orientation, the data is constructed on the basis of a critical understanding of Wenger's (1998) situated perspective on learning. From this perspective, learning assumes a social, or relational location. The research suggests that counselling training can be usefully understood as a participatory process that includes both stability and perturbation, and this has implications for counselling training practices that are shaped by a core theoretical model.