Counselling psychologists' perspectives on professionalism
This thesis is presented in four parts: an introduction, a critical literature review, an empirical research study, and a case study. The first part introduces the thesis and highlights the linking theme of ethical practice. It also clarifies the provenance of the research study, introduces the researcher, and comments on the writing style of the thesis. The critical literature review examines the ways in which ethics have been applied to counselling psychology. Firstly, the literature asserting the value-laden nature of therapeutic practice is explored. This is followed by a consideration of principle ethics, the frameworks through which principles have been applied to practice, the advantages of virtue ethics, cultural ethics, and finally the increasing focus on social ethics. The review concludes that a closer engagement with moral philosophy would be beneficial for counselling psychology. The empirical research study explores counselling psychologists' perspectives on professionalism. Following a pilot study involving two participants, fourteen counselling psychologists were interviewed by means of semi-structured interviews. The interviews were transcribed and analysed using social constructionist grounded theory methodology. An overall theme of ethical practice in its widest sense emerged from the data. The main findings were an "arc" of professional identity that emerged from participants' histories of work in social contexts and positions of dissent; a pattern of professional identity involving a stable central core of ethical practice and a penumbra of professional legitimacy; and the identification of tensions between the perspectives of the participants and traditional forms of professionalism. The research concludes that ethical practice is the defining factor of participants' professionalism. Habermas's theory of communicative rationality is suggested as ,a philosophical basis for ethical practice and as an appropriates substitute for the scientist-practitioner model. I The case study explores therapeutic work with a student who had been refused refugee status. It considers the development of a therapeutic relationship in a context of fear and powerlessness. It also reviews the ethical obligations of being a witness in therapeutic and judicial processes.