An Exploration of How Counselling Psychology Trainees Experience their Negative Internal Reactions to Clients

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Wilson, Zoë (2013)
  • Subject:
    mesheuropmc: education | health care economics and organizations

This qualitative study aimed to explore how trainee counselling psychologists\ud experience having negative internal reactions in relation to their clients. It seemed important to explore this domain of trainee experience since therapists have reported their training has left them ill-equipped to effectively manage strong reactions to clients (Harris, 2002). A review of the research identified a lack of process-orientated empirical studies exploring how trainee therapists understand, manage and are impacted by their experience of this client scenario. A semi-structured format was used to interview eleven trainee counselling psychologists to explore their experiences in-depth.\ud \ud Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed. Analysis of the data was guided by the principles of constructivist grounded theory (Charmaz, 2006). The core category in the constructed grounded theory represents trainees’ occupation of their professional identity. Its character influences how trainees are challenged by their experience, how they assign responsibility within the therapeutic relationship for their experienced conflict and how they engage with this conflict. Simultaneously, trainees’ occupation of their professional identity is shaped through the process of their experience, through the reciprocal relationships that exist between the four categories. This thesis offers a holistic and process-orientated understanding of trainee counselling psychologists’ experiences of having negative internal reactions in relation to their clients. It is recommended that trainers and supervisors encourage trainees to be open about, and seek help with, their experiences of this client scenario. Further research directions relating to the professional development of counselling psychologists are elucidated.
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