Smith, Vicki J (2011) It's the relationship that matters: a qualitative analysis of the role of the student/tutor relationship in counselling training. In: Health, Wellness and Society Inaugural International Conference, 20-22 January 2011, University of California at Berkeley, San Francisco, USA.. (Unpublished)

This study comprised a qualitative analysis of the role of student / tutor relationships in counselling training. Two focus groups comprising students on a UK postgraduate diploma in counselling were undertaken and the findings analysed using template analysis. The findings indicated that these relationships have a strong impact on the effectiveness of the learning experience. Students identified a number of valued relational features, with the creation of a safe, supportive learning environment being regarded as of crucial importance. The results suggested that students needed to feel sufficiently comfortable with, and trusting of, tutors if they were to take the kind of interpersonal risks that are necessary in this type of experiential, skills- based training. Students experienced higher levels of negative affect and, by implication, stress if tutors were unsuccessful in providing sufficient levels of safety and support, particularly in the latter stages of training. Strong links were found between the relational concepts students valued in tutors and those previously identified as important in client / therapist and supervisory relationships (Rogers, 1957; Jones et al 2008). Implications for counselling training and suggestions for future research were discussed.

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