A Mixed Method Study of How Trainee Counsellors Change
thesisposted on 02.08.2012, 13:50 by Julie Ann Folkes-Skinner
In Britain formal counsellor training is regarded as an essential pre-requisite for practice but its impact on the personal and professional development of trainees remains largely unexplored in the research literature. A hierarchical nested research study design (N=64) was used to investigate trainee characteristics and change processes across three BACP accredited counsellor training programmes. This study used quantitative and qualitative methods to conduct two related studies: ‘The Early Effects of Practitioner Training’ and ‘A Longitudinal Examination of Trainee Change’. The first was comprised of a cross sectional examination of trainee characteristics (n=63) and two qualitative studies: The Beginning of Training Study and a single subject Case Study of Margaret. The second consisted of one quantitative and two qualitative studies, these were: a paired sample investigation of the impact of training on one student cohort (n=20), the End of Training Qualitative Study of trainees (n=7), and an Assimilation Model Analysis of Mandy. The research was conducted from a critical realist perspective. The majority of trainees were white, female and middle aged but the experience of minority groups within cohorts was explored. Trainees had personal histories characterised by supportive relationships, loss, trauma, abuse and recovery. Practitioner training had a significant impact on personal and professional development but evidence of some negative effects, including Stressful Involvement, were found. Low levels of distress and increased emotional functioning were positively related to the completion of training. It is proposed that although the achievement of key competencies is the ultimate aim of practitioner counsellor training that it is the ability of trainees to assimilate problematic experiences and integrate different kinds of knowledge that is likely to result in therapeutic expertise.