Exploring the process of attending a reflective practice group during training: A preliminary grounded theory study of qualified clinical psychologists’ experiences

PhD Thesis

Fairhurst, A. 2011. Exploring the process of attending a reflective practice group during training: A preliminary grounded theory study of qualified clinical psychologists’ experiences. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Department of Applied Psychology
AuthorsFairhurst, A.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDClinPsychol

Section A: This section critically considers reflective practice definitions, conceptualisations and implementation within dominant theoretical models. The value and limitations of the favoured method for developing reflective capacities in clinical psychology training, the reflective practice group (RPG), are described. Group theory and the current empirical evidence base for RPGs within counsellor and clinical psychology training are critically considered and future research is suggested.
Section B: This section presents a preliminary grounded theory study of qualified clinical psychologists’ experiences of attending a reflective practice group during training. Reflective practice has become implicit within the clinical psychology profession; there is a lack however of empirical research on the methods through which reflective capacities are developed in trainees. This study aimed to build upon earlier research by Knight et al. (2010), which investigated the impact of reflective practice groups (RPG) whilst training, through further qualitative exploration of the mechanisms of experience related to participants perceiving the RPG as valuable and the role of distressing experiences. Eleven qualified clinical psychologists from a UK training programme who had previously (Knight el al. 2010) been categorised into 1 of 4 factor groups based on level of perceived value and distress (e.g. high value-low distress), took part in semi-structured interviews. Grounded theory methodology informed the data collection and analysis. A preliminary interactional map of experience was constructed from the data and five categories were important in understanding how the groups were perceived as valuable in the context of varying distress levels: ‘negotiating the unknown’; ‘managing emotion’; ‘negotiating the development of self-awareness’; ‘negotiating the reciprocal impact of others’; and ‘reflection-on-reflection’. It was recommended that training programmes should consider: trainee expectations; approach and motivation; the dual-relationships within groups/cohort; and facilitator style in offering RPGs. Recommendations were made for future research to attempt to match trainee personal learning style with appropriate reflective development methods, to build an evidence base for reflective practice methods generally and to establish the benefits of reflection for clinical practice.
Section C: This section presents a critical appraisal of the study undertaken in relation to 4 stipulated questions. Learning outcomes and future research skill development needs are considered, limitations of the study and proposed retrospective changes are highlighted and the impact on practice is considered. Finally suggestions for future research are elaborated upon.

KeywordsReflective practice, Reflective practice groups, Personal and professional development, Clinical psychology training
Publication process dates
Deposited18 Nov 2011
SubmittedJul 2011
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
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