Towards the Light at the End of the Tunnel: a Study into the Experiences of Stress and Coping in Counselling and Clinical Trainees and their Partners
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AbstractThis research aimed to provide an understanding into the experiences of counselling and clinical doctoral training on trainees and their partners. It was hoped that this would increase understanding would provide support for couples impacted by the doctoral programmes in managing the changes induced and maintaining relationship satisfaction. A mixed methods design was chosen to provide an empirical view of stress, dyadic coping and relationship satisfaction of trainees. It adopted a survey design and an analysis of the processes trainees and partners experience throughout the course as a couple through using a Grounded Theory approach. In total 50 trainees in clinical and counselling psychology took part in the survey study that measured perceived stress, dyadic coping and their relationship satisfaction. Data was analysed using regression analysis to explore relationships between the three constructs. The analysis revealed similarities between clinical and counselling trainees in terms of perceived stress, coping and relationship satisfaction. Regression analysis suggested trainees’ relationship satisfaction was predicted by number of children, communication of stress, length of relationship and length of time cohabiting. Fourteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with counselling doctoral trainees and partners. The interviews were transcribed and analysed in accordance with a constructivist version of grounded theory as developed by Charmaz (2006). The grounded theory study revealed a central storyline of 'a journey towards the light at the end of the tunnel' with the social process of striving for equilibrium. This referred to the journey participants experienced whilst the trainee was on the course and highlighted a process as trainees and partners moved through as they developed and adapted to their new lives. The idea of the course being temporary was a thread through the model as participants worked through the stresses whilst focusing on the finishing line at the end of the course. Conflicts arose with participants with children who appeared to undergo a strengthened version of the model. This research provided implications for further specialised support for trainees and partners undergoing the doctoral programmes. It hoped to highlight the difficulties and strengths couples endure on the programme and provides implications for universities and personal therapists to offer systemic support for couples to manage the processes together, making the adjustment process more seamless and meaningful to the couple.
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to the University of Wolverhampton for the Practitioner Doctorate: Counselling Psychology.