Exploring the Professional Identity of Counselling Psychologists: A mixed methods study
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AbstractAbstract Aims and Rationale: The present study aims to enrich understanding of the professional identity of counselling psychology in the UK by exploring both the individual professional identities of counselling psychologists and the broader identity of the profession as a whole. This will elaborate on the existing literature base and allow the researcher to gather a breadth of perspectives of counselling psychology identity whilst also exploring the issues surrounding the identity development of practitioners in greater depth. Method: The study adopts a triangulation mixed methods design to explore the professional identity of counselling psychologists (Cresswell, Plano Clark, Guttman & Hanson, 2003). An exploratory online survey was designed to explore 1) the training, employment and practice characteristics of counselling psychologists and 2) their perception of the role, contribution and future identity of the profession. Concurrent with this data collection, qualitative interviews were conducted which aimed to explore the participants’ experience of training and working as a counselling psychologist, and develop an understanding of factors that have impacted upon their individual professional identity. Results: Both data sources contribute to the conception of counselling psychology as a diverse and multi-faceted profession. ‘Unity within diversity’ has been proposed as an overarching theme that marries the data sources and highlights the different ways in which counselling psychologists experience and articulate their individual professional identity, and the collective identity of the profession. Conclusions: The findings reveal there is no single professional identity inherent within counselling psychology. Multiple professional identities exist and are shaped by a range of factors. Uniting these diverse identities is a central commitment to a humanistic philosophy and value base. This provides a foundation on which therapeutic decision making is made and clients’ difficulties conceptualised. Whilst counselling psychology’s interest in identity and critical self-reflection has been questioned, this process may allow the profession to remain alert to the changing professional climate and adapt their practice to ensure that they remain valuable and are not overlooked within the field of therapeutic provision.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
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