Exploring Dynamic Processes: a Qualitative Study of Problem-Based Learning Experiences within Clinical Psychology Training
Aim: The existing literature on the experiences of individuals who have undertaken Problem-Based Learning (PBL) as part of their doctoral Clinical Psychology training in the UK is scarce, particularly from the perspective of qualitative peer research. The aim of the present study was to construct and articulate a deeper account of such experiences, and in particular, to explore how individuals make sense of these experiences. It is hoped that the findings of the present study will increase awareness within Clinical Psychology training programmes of the experiences, perspectives and needs of trainees who undertake PBL. Method: A qualitative approach was adopted. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight Trainee Clinical Psychologists who have undertaken PBL at a Clinical Psychology training programme in South-East England. Their accounts were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), which endeavours to illuminate the lived experiences of small samples of individuals who have experienced a particular phenomenon. Results: The analytic procedure highlighted four main themes emerging within participants’ accounts: Intensity of the experience; Striving towards connection versus fear of disconnection; Responses to manage the experience(s) can be unhelpful and helpful; and Trying to make sense of PBL. Implications: Participants characterised PBL as a challenging yet invaluable process through which they made significant gains, both professionally and personally. Facilitators were noted to play a key role in helping to create safe spaces in which trainees are supported to engage with issues that may arise for them in relation to their professional and personal development. Implications and recommendations are outlined for the benefit of Clinical Psychology training programmes that may wish to incorporate or alter PBL within their syllabuses.
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