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Title: Relationship with theory : a study exploring the impact of theory on the way trainee counselling psychologists make sense of their emotional responses to clients in practice
Author: O'Donovan, Lucy A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2738 6513
Awarding Body: University of Roehampton
Current Institution: University of Roehampton
Date of Award: 2012
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The theoretical component of professional training for counselling psychologists is recognised, if not assumed, to be important by those in the field. Currently, several models of therapy are taught to trainees, each with its own theoretical approach to understanding and working in the therapeutic setting. This study considered the helpfulness of theory in practice and explored this with the research question ‘how do trainees make sense of their emotional responses to clients in practice, and what is the impact of theory on the way they make sense of this experience’. Twelve counselling psychologists in the final stages of training participated in semi-structured interviews with the researcher. A grounded theory analysis found eight categories in total. The overarching category, ‘the trainee’s relationship with theory’, indicated that theoretical learning was a social process that became incorporated into trainees’ developing professional identities, and that it evolved during the course of their training. The impacts of theory were found to be both helpful and problematic, and identifiable in four categories: ‘theory reveals the trainee’s experience’, ‘theory conceals the trainee’s experience’, ‘theory raises uncertainty in the trainee’, and, ‘the trainee’s inability to perceive the impact of theory’. The remaining three categories ‘the trainee’s personal and professional development’, ‘the nature of the trainee’s relationships’, and ‘relieving the impact of the trainee’s experience’ described factors influencing trainees’ relationship with theory, and the degree to which each impact category was experienced. The research findings open dialogue about: the disadvantages (alongside the advantages) of using one’s reflective practice. These implications are discussed.
Supervisor: Dhillon-Stevens, Harbrinder ; Cayne, Julia Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: professional training ; counselling psychologists