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Exploring counselling psychologists' perceptions of their early family experiences and their influence on professional practice : a grounded theory study

A qualitative study was carried out with 10 qualified counselling psychologists to explore their perceptions regarding the influence of their early family experiences on their practice. The method employed was grounded theory using data gathered from semi-structured interviews. Analysis of the participants' accounts suggested that early family experiences provided a strong motivation to enter the field of counselling psychology, in order to make sense out of early difficult experiences and utilise early learned skills. Additionally, participants percieved their early experiences to have both a positive and negative influence on their therapeutic competency and practice. The experience of working through and coping with personal struggles enhanced their empathic, relexive abilities and emotional resilience in staying with their clients' difficulties. However, early experiences presented a challenge for the particpants in their ability to facilitate their clients' therapeutic process. These challenges were triggered when re-living earlier experiences in the therapeutic encounter. Early family and later experiences also appeared to influence the participants' developing professional identity, in providing inclinations of working with certain client groups, settings, and therapeutic modalities. In the process of developing their professional identity, participants were in search of authenticity by utilising the theories and therapeutic stance that fits with who they are internally. The participants also emphasised the importance of personal therapy, in terms of dealing with personal issues, increasing self-awareness, modelling their own practice and cultivating therapeutic skills. Personal therapy has been found to have a positive influence on therapeutic practice. A constructed theoretical framework is also presented offering an understanding of the main psychological process identified : "counselling psychologists' self-formation : entering a process of ongoing transformation". The implications of these findings for the relational practice of counselling psychology are discussed.
Date January 2012
CreatorsPapachristodoulou, Violetta
ContributorsBray, Diane ; Greenwood, Dennis
PublisherUniversity of Roehampton
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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