"We were in One Place and the Ethics Committee in Another": Trainee Clinical Psychologists' Experiences of Research Ethics Processes
Aim: Whilst there is a wide range of research that explores ethics guidance and committee perspectives of research ethics processes, there is a lack of research into trainee experiences. The aim of this study was to explore Trainee Clinical Psychologists experience of the research ethics process and provide a platform to those voices. It was hoped that this research may be able to create a deeper understanding of applicants’ experiences, in which both positive and negative experiences of the application process can be shared and explored. This understanding could then potentially support ethics committees, training courses and applicants to work together and thus improve the application process and resulting research at a national level within the context of Clinical Psychology training. Method: This study adopted a qualitative approach in conducting semi-structured interviews with three Trainee and three Newly Qualified Clinical Psychologists who had applied for ethical approval for their Doctoral thesis. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used in an attempt to illuminate the lived experience of applying for research ethical approval. Results: From the analytic procedure, three main themes emerged regarding the experience of research ethics processes from participants’ accounts: The emotional intensity and personal impact of the ethics process; Responses to and ways of managing the ethics process; and Challenges within the ethics process. Implications: This study highlights the importance of recognising the impact of the relationships between Trainee Clinical Psychologists, Clinical Psychology training courses and Research Ethics Committees upon trainees’ journey through the research ethics process. A ‘them and us’ dynamic is being maintained by misunderstandings about each other’s roles, uncertainty and stereotyping, amongst other factors. Potential ways to change this dynamic and improve the research ethics process during clinical Psychology Training has been explored.