How do counselling psychology trainees experience working with CBT in their placements?

Hedley, Andrew M. (2018) How do counselling psychology trainees experience working with CBT in their placements? Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


Rationale: This study set out to provide an open investigation into how trainee counselling psychologists in the UK experience working with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in their placements. Research and commentary by qualified and trainee counselling psychologists have expressed some concern about how well the profession’s values are upheld when they are working with CBT within the NHS and IAPT settings. However, it is unclear how widely these concerns are shared amongst counselling psychologists the majority of whom work in the NHS. Furthermore, the relevance of these concerns to trainees who may work with CBT in a wide range of other clinical settings within the public, charitable, and private sector was uncertain. Method: Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to explore six final-year trainee counselling psychologists’ lived experience of working with CBT in their placements. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews via Skype. Findings: It uncovered three interconnected superordinate themes: (i) Pure CBT work vs. integration (ii) CBT conflicts with counselling psychology’s values, and (iii) Deconstructing & assimilating CBT. These findings were interpreted and discussed in relation to the existing literature. The key finding was that the participants’ belief in professional values often led them to feel frustrated with their work in CBT placements and with supervisors that expected them to only work with CBT as a stand-alone-approach. In this regard, the participants’ primary training in person-centred therapy or psychodynamic therapy and their preference for integrative approaches was deemed significant. The dissatisfaction reported by the participants concerning their CBT experiences was largely consistent with previous studies. The methodological limitations of the study are discussed and recommendations are made for further research to investigate the extent of these concerns and what could be done to address them.

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