"‘HIV [...] in neon lights"
: the experience of trainee and newly qualified counsellors, counselling psychologists and psychotherapists as they begin working with clients diagnosed with HIV/AIDS within the UK

  • Felicity Ludford

Student thesis: PsychD


There is a dearth in the current literature surrounding the phenomenon experienced by psychological practitioners working therapeutically with clients living with HIV/AIDS, particularly in regards to their first encounters of this early in their careers. This qualitative piece of research attempts to illuminate what this endeavor is like for trainee and newly qualified Counsellors, Psychotherapists and Counselling Psychologists within the UK, who had chosen to undertake their required counselling placements within specialist HIV/AIDS support and counselling services. Six practitioners in various stages of their therapeutic trainings within the South of England, were recruited by purposive sampling and interviewed via means of a semi structured interview. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was adopted in the exploration of the resulting transcripts, in order to allow for an in depth exploration of participant lived experiences. Four superordinate themes were identified; ‘Confronting Expectations’, ‘Negotiating Difference’, ‘An Absence’ and ‘Transformed by the Experience’ and a further eleven further subordinate themes. These themes attempt to illustrate the complex emotional journey experienced by these practitioners that appear to have had significant impact on them both personally and professionally. The discussion that follows attempt to locate these findings in the existing literature and shed light on the implications of medical advancements and changing attitudes on this work. Finally the limitations of this research were considered and the implications that this research has to the field of Counselling Psychology.
Date of Award22 Jan 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SupervisorGella Richards (Supervisor) & Igi Moon (Supervisor)


  • HIV
  • AIDS
  • PI.WHA
  • Counselling Psychologist
  • Counsellor
  • Psychotherapist
  • Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA)

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