Smith, Carole (2020) An exploration of the retrospective experiences of counsellors and psychotherapists in their personal development groups during their training and to understand how they use these experiences in their client and training work. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Personal development (PD) groups are an expected and are assumed to be a necessary and beneficial part of counselling and psychotherapy training. These can take a varied and individualised form in training institutions, ranging in number of participants and facilitated by either member of teaching teams or by trainers external to the course. A qualitative study was designed to retrospectively explore 11 qualified counsellors’ experiences of their PD groups in training and how they use these in their current client and training work. The participants took part in semi-structured interviews, and the interviews were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). The key findings indicate that experiences in PD groups can be psychologically traumatic, but if individuals are able to tolerate this, the experience can be processed into important learning for client and training work. The research suggests that the nature of experiential and emotional learning through PD group experiences emerges over a considerable period rather than at the time of the PD group work itself. Furthermore, self-understanding and insight, making connections to therapeutic and training work as a counsellor or psychotherapist, involves making meaning from these challenging experiences, enabling participants to use them in their clinical and training work. Recommendations for specialised training and support of group facilitators, and preparation for group participants, are made.

FINAL THESIS - Smith Carole.pdf - Accepted Version
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