• A study to investigate the role of mother-tongue in counselling for Welsh speakers and its impact on the counselling relationship

      Parnell, Tony; Kennedy, Vida L. (University of Chester, 2013-12)
      This research study investigates the role of mother-tongue in counselling Welsh clients and within the therapeutic relationship. It is a qualitative study using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) as its mode of inquiry and analysis. Four participants who described Welsh as their mother-tongue from the North Wales region were interviewed individually using an in-depth semi-structured interview. Data analysis followed that described by Smith, Flowers, and Larkin (2009). The study found that all participants described mother-tongue as an important aspect of counselling and the counselling relationship. The results demonstrated that the more familiar a language is to the client the easier it is to talk about personal experiences and emotions. It also highlighted the role language plays in the client’s identity and culture, and that it is important for the therapist to accept and understand the client’s background and their struggle to communicate in order to create a facilitative relationship, and a safe environment for counselling. The study found that aspects such as searching for the right word or having meaning get lost in translation as barriers to counselling. In addition, and in particular with reference to the bilingual context of the Welsh speaking participants it was found that language was used to create closeness or distance to an issue, discovering hidden issues, and allow for flexibility and choice. This study provides an insight into the role of mother-tongue in counselling with Welsh clients and may have something to offer counsellors working in other bilingual contexts.