Trainee Clinical Psychologists' Experiences of Personal Therapy and Its Relationship to Development Across Training: A Grounded Theory Study
Although it is not a professional requirement, research shows that some Trainee Clinical Psychologists (CPs) access PT (PT) whilst training (Nel, Pezzolesi & Stott, 2012). CPs’ practice is moving towards the Reflective-Scientist-Practitioner Model, therefore identifying ways that CPs may develop reflective skills is required. Most other therapeutic trainings have PT as a requirement (Malikiosi-Loizos 2013), which is suggested as a method of developing reflective skills (Lavender, 2003; Wigg Cushway & Neal, 2011). Little research has investigated the use of PT by Trainee CPs. The current study explored processes by which 12 Trainee CPs experienced their own (PT), and how these processes related to their development whilst training. Participants were interviewed using single, semi-structured interviews. Data was analysed using Constructivist Grounded Theory (Charmaz, 2014). Two models were constructed, these described participants’ decision to access PT mediated by anticipating or experiencing distress and learning about the self through PT. Participants seemed to develop and learn about themselves in three domains; 1) Learning about me: Personally; 2) Learning about me: Professionally; and 3) Learning about me: Being a client. I understand this development occurred through the continuous process of participants taking a dilemma to PT, reflecting upon the dilemma, and thereby acquiring a different understanding of themselves. These experiences apparently permit participants to integrate personal attributes into their professional identities and to model positive experiences from their own therapy in their practice. The results support PT as a method of developing competencies required within the Reflective Practitioner Model, implying that the use of PT for Trainee CPs should be considered within professional training. Furthermore, participants described emotional struggles during training which they perceived, according to professional discourses, to be unacceptable. This implies that evaluating formal and informal support systems for Trainee CPs is essential.