The Experience of Burnout in Counselling Psychology Trainees: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Prof Doc Thesis

Archer, A. 2020. The Experience of Burnout in Counselling Psychology Trainees: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsArcher, A.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Counselling psychology training consists of many professional, academic and personal demands. Poor management of these demands could lead to burnout and drop out from training (Cornér et al, 2017). The current quantitative literature places emphasis on three-dimensional conceptual frameworks of burnout using measures such as the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) (Maslach & Jackson, 1981) and the Copenhagen Burnout Inventory (CBI) (Kristensen et al, 2005). The qualitative literature outlined only stressors of counselling psychology training and burnout in qualified counselling psychologists. To address a research gap in how trainees experience burnout, this study was designed to explore burnout as part of a wider context.
Eight third-year trainee counselling psychologists were recruited from six universities across London. Data was collected using semi-structured interviews. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to analyse the data. Three superordinate themes emerged: A perfect storm: the demands of counselling psychology training, Treading on shaky foundations, and Impact of training on self and others. Participants described the training as an extremely demanding endeavour which led to a disconcerting loss of agency and resentment towards the process. Participants often could not gauge their own progress, and they perceived the training environment as hostile towards difficulties and failure. To disguise their feelings of self-doubt, the participants appeared to foster a form of artificial confidence to give the illusion of self-assurance. Other effects of burnout included upheaval in significant relationships, as well as physical and health-related changes. Burnout was characterised as perseverance through unaddressed difficulties, rather than inability to function. However, participants reported developing greater resilience and self-monitoring to prevent burnout occurring in the future.
Recommendations include normalisation of difficulties and burnout by trainers, and development of literature and workshops for prospective trainees to fully understand the training before embarking on the process. Other areas for future research are also discussed.

PublisherUniversity of East London
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Online24 Jul 2020
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SubmittedJan 2020
Deposited24 Jul 2020
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