City Research Online

Being a trainee, being a client: Exploring meanings and integrating identities

Nikolopoulou, Kallirroi (2016). Being a trainee, being a client: Exploring meanings and integrating identities. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


As a discipline Counselling Psychology places considerable focus on models of reflective practice within its pluralistic and critical knowledgebase. To that end personal therapy is a defining requirement of Counselling Psychology training. Nevertheless, given the emphasis that the discipline places on the therapist’s use of self and aspects of personal and professional development, there is limited understanding regarding the experiences of trainees as a unique client group. This study sets out to explore the therapeutic experiences of trainee Counselling Psychologists in the UK, with particular focus on the meanings that participants assign to their role as clients. Semi-structured and exploratory interviews were conducted with seven Counselling Psychology trainees who had been in personal therapy throughout their doctoral training. Data were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Three Superordinate themes emerged from the data: In search of a narrative (defining purpose), Being a trainee, being a client, and Learning from therapy. The themes were complex and seemed to describe interpersonal and intrapersonal processes. The three superordinate themes further divided in to twelve Sub-themes, chosen to represent the diversity of the individual experiences claimed by the participants. Of particular interest was the pervasiveness of the concept of the therapist’s vulnerability, and the ways in which trainee Counselling Psychologists attempt to make sense of their own experiences of vulnerability in relation to their developing professional identity. The findings of this study are expected to inform the current approaches to Counselling Psychology training and practice, and further highlight the importance of cultivating an introspective and critical attitude that allows for a greater appreciation of the sameness between client and therapist, and a more constructive acknowledgement of the influence of personal therapy in one’s development as a therapist.

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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