The training experiences of black counsellors
There has been a significant expansion of counselling and psychotherapy training programmes within higher education and the independent training sector. The curriculum content for counselling and psychotherapy training is largely unregulated at a national level, and yet qualified counsellors are expected to cater for 'clients' with wide ranging needs and from a diversity of cultural backgrounds. The aims of the research are to examine how issues relating to ethnicity 'race' and culture are addressed in training. The research offers some insight into the lived experience of a minority group, indicating how counselling may be received by black clients. Through qualitative inquiry into the training experiences of black counsellors in England, the views and reflections of a minority group within the counselling profession are examined. Theory relating to racial identity development, internalised racism and black-white dyadic relationships was used to analyse some of the material derived from the research. The dual role of the researcher as 'insider' and 'outsider' is explored through reflexive analysis. Analysis of the data gathered from this research indicates that the presence and ethnicity of black counsellor trainees was ignored, or seen as problematic, in the training environment. Research results show that direct experience of racism at a personal and institutional level is a common component of black counsellors' experience. This research gives 'voice' to some of the concerns, experiences and views of black counsellors about the content and delivery of counselling training. Themes and experiences identified as consistent throughout the research are: positive learning about self and identity, isolation, invisibility, tokenistic visibility, frustration, and being silenced. These issues were explored in this research, providing insights for counselling trainers about the impact and effectiveness of training provision for a recognised minority. Some of the insights may have relevance to the experiences of other minority group counselling trainees.