Qualified Counselling Psychologists’ Perspectives and Experiences of Personal Therapy in the Context of Continuing Personal and Professional Development

  • Maura Abdelall

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


In the UK, engagement in personal therapy (PT) is an integral requirement of professional training in counselling psychology. However, despite the importance of PT during training, there is no current requirement for practicing counselling psychologists to continue this post-qualification. The aims of this study were: to explore the reasons that counselling psychologists engage (or not) in PT post-qualification; to understand counselling psychologists’ views of PT as contributing to their professional and personal development; and to explore counselling psychologists’ views of PT as a potential CPD activity.
Using Charmaz’s (2006) constructivist grounded theory approach to analyse the data, five major categories were constructed through the analysis: personal growth versus personal crisis; practice what you preach; the ideal therapist; compliance and confusion of compulsory PT as trainees; and approval, ambivalence and constraints of PT as post-qualification CPD. The core constructed theoretical category - diverging attitudes towards the role of post-qualification personal therapy - was considered to represent qualified counselling psychologists’ uncertainty about the role of PT therapy in the context of their own ongoing personal and professional development.
Most participants described seeking therapy post-qualification for self-reflection and for emotional support in a time of crisis. Many were in favour of PT as a voluntary CPD activity to be engaged in sporadically for short periods over one’s professional career. However, participants were less in favour of PT as a compulsory CPD activity. The findings are discussed with regards to the relevant literature and the implications they have for the discipline of counselling psychology, for training and for the continuing professional development of counselling psychologists. The findings draw attention to the counselling psychologists’ voluntary engagement with PT post-qualification, and has helped to elucidate how PT is understood, viewed and engaged in, or not, by qualified counselling psychologists as an activity for CPD.
Date of Award26 Aug 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton

Cite this