The buds and shoots of who I’ve grown to become: the development of reflective practice in Trainee Clinical Psychologists.
Within literature regarding Personal Professional Development (PPD) in Clinical Psychology training, personal and professional development are largely conceptualised as separate processes. Yet models of reflective practice would suggest that an awareness of the personal self is necessary for effective clinical work. This study explored newly qualified Clinical Psychologists’ (CPs) experiences of PPD, and in particular their identities, during their clinical psychology doctoral training. The main research question was ‘How do newly qualified CPs experience their personal and professional identities during doctoral training?’ Seven newly qualified CPs were interviewed regarding their experiences of their personal and professional identities during training. A qualitative research design was employed and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to analyse the data. Three superordinate themes were identified: Enhancing awareness of self and others; Taking risks and managing uncertainty; Developing self-acceptance. Within these results there was a strong message of an inextricable link between personal and professional identities. Enhancing awareness of self was understood as a personal process within PPD and an important aspect of reflective practice, thus it is proposed that PPD is an effective tool for training reflective practitioners. Within PPD, learning to manage uncertainty and take risks within relationships was seen to contribute to reflective practice, as CPs may be more able to attend to process issues within the therapeutic context. Furthermore, greater self-awareness seemed to help trainees find a balance between self-development and self-acceptance. Maintaining a stable and accepting sense of self may contribute to a CP’s professional development and personal wellbeing.