Resilience in counselling and clinical psychologists working in the NHS
: a grounded theory investigation

  • Norma Scevoli

Student thesis: PsychD


This study aimed to develop a constructivist grounded theory (CGT) of how counselling and clinical psychologists understand and sustain resilience in the context of their work within the National Health Service (NHS). Recent surveys have highlighted that NHS mental health practitioners report high levels of professional burnout and low levels of job satisfaction due to increasing demands, with workers required to meet ever higher targets. Resilience, conceptualised as the ability to sustain professional effectiveness, fostering psychological wellbeing, is suggested to be a protective factor against burnout. Despite its relevance, there is no research that explores the mechanisms of resilience in the NHS. Therefore, the current study recruited nine counselling and clinical psychologists who identified as resilient, and, as part of a negative case analysis, a cognitive-behavioural therapist and a clinical psychologist who didn’t identify as resilient. Participants were interviewed about their experience of resilience in the NHS. The interview data were subjected to a grounded theory analysis. The theory developed proposes that values, and in particular the extent to which a practitioner’s personal and professional values align with the values of their organisation, appear to play a central role in the way resilience is experienced and negotiated. The overarching aim of this study was to develop insights that may enhance the provision of support for the NHS psychology staff. Recommendations include suggesting that employers take a more active role in supporting psychology staff wellbeing, the need for more effective communication between practitioners and management, as well as potential implications for training. Suggestions for future research include exploring a male perspective and non-psychologists, using discursive approaches to investigate resilience within this context, as well as investigating further the possible link between alignment of values and resilience in the NHS.
Date of Award10 Aug 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SupervisorMark Donati (Director of Studies) & Rosemary Rizq (Co-Supervisor)


  • Counselling psychology
  • Constructivist Grounded Theory
  • Resilience
  • National Health Service

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