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Authenticity: How do counselling psychologists know who their clients really are?

Avis, T. (2010). Authenticity: How do counselling psychologists know who their clients really are?. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


Counselling psychology trainees are obliged to undertake a minimum of 40 hours of personal therapy as part of the course requirements. This qualitative study explores how trainee counselling psychologists experience mandatory personal therapy and how chartered counselling psychologists experience having trainee counselling psychologists as clients. Phenomenological methodology - specifically, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (lPA) - was employed to access the lived experience of both trainees and qualified psychologists. Analysis of the results suggests that as the therapeutic relationship develops, trainee counselling psychologists move from an 'inauthentic' to an 'authentic' self. They use mandatory personal therapy to learn and grow both professionally and personally. Whilst many trainees feel that therapy should remain a compulsory course requirement, they also highlight that it costs them both emotionally and financially. The qualified therapists notice a difference when working with trainee counselling psychologists, as opposed to their other clients. The therapists are aware of the mandatory nature of the therapy and their own worries about being judged by the trainees. They find it difficult to maintain the 'role' of therapist. The therapists both empathise and sympathise with the trainees, which often results in concessions being made. There are four overarching categories common to the two groups: i. impact of mandatory therapy on therapeutic process, ii. the therapeutic performance, iii. the value of therapy and iv. boundaries. Despite both groups stating that the obligatory nature of the therapy initially impedes the process, neither trainees nor therapists communicate this belief within the relationship; often resulting in 'an elephant in the room .' Recommendations are discussed including the value of providing preparation for both trainees and qualified therapists before entering the unique trainee therapeutic relationship, extra funding, and other personal development ideas.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
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