• A co-operative inquiry into counselling and psychotherapy trainers' inter- and intra-personal concerns and challenges in a higher education context

      Gubi, Peter M.; Carver, Elizabeth V. (University of Chester, 2017-03-26)
      Key Aim: The purpose of this study was to examine complex concerns and challenges encountered by counselling and psychotherapy trainers, and support them to deliver a consistent, relationship-centred learning approach within Higher Education (HE). Background: Counselling and psychotherapy training is central to regulating practice, however, studies conceptualising trainers’ concerns and challenges in the United Kingdom (UK) are sparse. Literature generally evaluates trainer challenges from a professional competence and/or gatekeeping perspective. Little evidence exists identifying problems connected with ‘professionalisation’. Aims and Objectives: The aim was to evaluate trainers’ multidimensional unease that can hinder working relationships. The intention was to: explore difficult patterns of behaviour and group dynamics in the ‘training alliance’; explore trainers’ perceptions and experiences when confronted with gatekeeping issues; collaboratively develop strategies to enhance trainers’ learning experience; examine the processes needed to sustain these strategies; and identify the lessons learnt to inform practice, education, and research. Approach and Methods: A qualitative, co-operative inquiry approach enabled trainers to question their situated and propositional knowledge, reconcile professional challenges, allay concerns about individual fitness to practice, and provide alternative responses to students, peers, and managerial hierarchies in HE and professional bodies. This approach has a political and social element, according with personal desire to make change. Thematic analysis uncovered new insights, expanded or modified principles and re-examine accepted interpretations during 8 inquiry sessions with 5 experienced trainers, and 3 associated workshops. A primarily iterative and inductive process of immersion, involved reflexive engagement, and sharing of data with trainer/practitioners. Findings: 6 overarching themes were identified: Trying to Make Sense of Significant Events; Negotiating Conflict and Incongruity in Training Groups; Navigating Inherent Challenges within Counsellor Training Teams; Teaching as a Never-Ending Challenge; Organisational Constraints and Challenges; and Contemplating Individual Connection in a Collaborative Context. Discussion and Conclusion: Findings supported previous research suggesting trainers require training, and that trainers’ concerns and challenges are interlinked; beginning with interpersonal challenges that subsequently impact on trainers’ professional and intra-personal sense of identity. Co-operative inquiry can benefit programme teams in terms of the co-construction of trainers’ realities and dynamic negotiation of meaning. Co-researchers’ knowledge and confidence in responding to potential conflict in training was enhanced. To achieve the best outcome, this knowledge needs implementing in practice; programme team involvement is a prerequisite, and support is required by professional bodies and HE to ensure ethical training practice in the face of student disgruntlement, management demands in HE and from professional accrediting bodies.
    • A qualitative exploration of therapists’ experiences as clients who prematurely terminated their therapy in England

      Gubi, Peter M.; Reeves, Andrew; Bonsmann, Christine F. (University of Chester, 2016-07-31)
      This qualitative study explored experiences of prematurely terminating adult individual therapy from the perspectives of therapists as clients in England. The aims of the study were to gain an overview of the experience of prematurely terminating therapy; to understand the experience of dissatisfaction when this is given as a reason for prematurely terminating therapy; and to inform and thus help improve practice. Rates of premature termination from counselling and psychotherapy remain high despite a considerable body of research into possible predictors of this phenomenon. Few studies have explored clients’ experiences of premature termination in depth. Clients often report dissatisfaction as a reason for premature termination, and this experience is under-researched. From practitioners’ perspectives, little is known about indicators of dissatisfaction, and how to manage premature termination if it occurs. The study was conducted in two stages. The purposeful sample were therapists who, as clients, prematurely terminated personal therapy after attending at least two sessions. Participants self-selected as having prematurely terminated therapy. Stage one used an online qualitative survey to gain an overview of participants’ experiences of premature termination, and the 40 usable responses were analysed inductively using thematic analysis. The survey was used to recruit participants for stage two. In stage two, six semi-structured interviews were carried out with participants who had prematurely terminated therapy for reasons of dissatisfaction. The data were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Overall, the major themes created were: feeling dissatisfied; client becomes unable to continue therapy; and communication about the premature termination. The findings confirm the importance of the working alliance in therapy, and illuminate how the alliance failed to develop in experiences of dissatisfaction. It is argued that understanding clients’ experiences could enable practitioners to recognise the presence of dissatisfaction, and adapt therapy, if appropriate, to minimise avoidable premature termination. The need for therapy to ‘add value’ was also identified. The findings indicate a failure by some therapists to act in a relational way when clients prematurely terminated therapy, thereby disrupting the dominant discourse about the importance of the therapeutic relationship. Clients’ needs at the point of premature termination were identified. The findings of this study are not generalisable but may be transferable. The study concludes that therapists’ management of how therapy ends is just as important as the management of how it begins, regardless of how it ends. This has implications for practice and training. Areas for further research are identified.
    • What Can Politics Academic Practice Learn from the Experience Politics Students Have of Expressing Their Political Views?

      D'Artrey, Meriel P. (University of Chester, 2015-11)
      The aim of the research is to identify implications for the practice of Politics academics from the experience their students have of expressing their political views. This exploratory study is set within the wider debate of power and performativity in the HE classroom. It is situated in a study of practice and perceptions in one Department at the University of Chester and conducted through a review of the literature and empirical qualitative research with both Politics students and Politics academics. The research found that while Politics students wish to express their political views, these may not be their actual political views. Politics students indicate that the Politics academic can affect their expression of political views. They prefer academics who express their own political views and they do not like politically neutral academics. They may wish to know an academic’s political views in order to gain advantage for themselves. Knowing an academic’s political views enables the student to avoid expressing political views which some Politics academics find offensive. The research highlights the part played by power and performativity in the expressing of the Politics student’s political views and identifies some of the complexities arising from this. The practice outcomes provide guidance on how Politics academics can approach the issue of the Politics student’s expression of political views. This single case study’s value lies in these contributions to wider practice. Research is identified which will explore the findings further.
    • An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the lived experience of traumatic bereavement on therapists’ personal and professional identity and practice

      Gubi, Peter; Mintz, Rita; Broadbent, Jeanne R. (University of Chester, 2015-10)
      The self of the therapist is widely recognised as being a crucial component in the therapeutic relationship. However, comparatively little is known about the therapist as a person, or of how life-changing events in therapists’ personal lives may impact on their professional identity and practice. The aim of this phenomenological study was to explore the impact of traumatic bereavement on the personal and professional lives of qualified humanistic therapists in order to shed further light on this under-researched area. Underpinned by a phenomenological-hermeneutic philosophy, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was selected as the methodology most appropriate to reveal participants’ lived experience. Purposive sampling was used to recruit a homogenous sample of eight humanistic therapists who had experienced traumatic bereavement while practising. Data comprised interview transcripts, participants’ reflective writing and researcher field notes. IPA’s idiographic approach facilitated the creation of a detailed and nuanced thematic analysis of the phenomenon, grounded in participants’ voices. Five super-ordinate themes were created from the interpretative phenomenological analysis, each of which provides a complementary ‘lens’ through which to view participants’ holistic experience: ‘Significance of context’, ‘Confronting a changed reality’, ‘Re-learning the world’, ‘Facing professional challenges’ and ‘Personal and professional reciprocity’. Findings reveal the unique contextual and multi-faceted nature of traumatic bereavement, and suggest that this experience can profoundly impact on therapists’ personal and social identities and beliefs. The professional challenges faced by grieving therapists are also highlighted. Findings illustrate that through a reciprocal process of personal and professional integration, the experience of facing, and living through grief, can lead to therapists’ increased self-knowledge, understanding, empathy and authenticity that informs and enhances their therapeutic practice. Supportive supervision and continued self-reflection are evidenced as significant mediating factors. The research demonstrates that the process of integrating the experience of traumatic bereavement into the therapist’s personal and professional life is a continuing and oscillating process. It is crucial that therapists carrying this burden have opportunities to reflect on this process in supportive supervisory relationships in order to pre-empt and ameliorate difficulties they may face in client work. A greater understanding of therapist bereavement is needed across the profession.
    • An incongruous duality?: Care, control & the social world of the mental health worker

      Ogden, Cassandra A.; Morley, Sharon; Mason, Tom; Smith, Catrin; Taylor, Paul J. (University of ChesterUniversity of Chester, 2011-01)
      The contemporary mental health profession is facing a crisis of recruitment and retention. Services provided are complex, practically and conceptually. On one hand, assessments and treatments are provided, but on the other, staff become responsible for the administration of coercive security discourses and arrangements. This complex phenomenon can leave mental health personnel vulnerable to criticisms in exactly how best they should discharge their duties within an occupational remit of duality. Working in the correct or most appropriate way is a constant challenge for staff as they must meet with approval from both managers and colleagues negotiating a path between formal rules and informal norms. This exploratory study was undertaken within a mental health NHS Trust in the North of England. It interviewed twenty participants from a range of areas of work, namely hospital wards, occupational therapy departments and the community setting. A narrative interviewing technique has been used to collect occupational histories and stories which have been used in an attempt to illuminate the contemporary issues facing clinical staff. Findings suggest that their contemporary care delivery is much more complex than previously known and that there is a diverse range of background and conceptual challenges which workers face in addition to their organisationally prescribed practical mandates of work. Six normative orders of work have emerged from data that has been collected; bureaucracy, risk management, competence, morality, physical environment and care versus control. Participant reflections on professional autonomy and responsibility shed light on the perceived rationality of policies and procedures and 'governance at a distance' taking place in response to bureaucratic and risk reduction imperatives. Indeed, such work is demanding and the management of a professional 'performance', and the self regulating and adaption of emotion have been seen to be an important dimension in the observation of occupational competence and work-based socialisation processes. Furthermore, personnel are engaged in a complex and fluid role duality where they must personally reconcile their role as care provider whilst also maintaining levels of physical security in a contemporary and technologically advanced healthcare environment. In this thesis, it is argued that these normative aspects of work typify the social nature of mental health work and, in addition, take place under the auspices of Goffmanesque theorisations of the 'total institution', 'mortification of self and 'social contamination'. These findings draw particular attention to an under acknowledged aspect of mental health based inquiry where the formal and informal spheres of work are observed to co-mingle within the environment of psychiatry. In doing so, questions arise over the rationality of some systems of work which 'shop-floor' staff are engaged within, yet, at times, have very little opportunity to shape as individual practitioners.