It's the relationship that matters: A qualitative analysis of the role of the student-tutor relationship in counselling training

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This study is a qualitative analysis of the role of student/tutor relationships in counselling training. Two focus groups comprising students on a UK postgraduate diploma in counselling were undertaken and the findings analysed using template analysis. The findings indicated that these relationships have a strong impact on the effectiveness of the learning experience. Students identified a number of valued relational features, with the creation of a safe, supportive learning environment being regarded as of crucial importance. The results suggested that students needed to feel sufficiently comfortable with, and trusting of, tutors if they were to take the kind of interpersonal risks that are necessary in this type of experiential skills based training. Students experienced higher levels of negative affect and, by implication, stress if tutors were unsuccessful in providing sufficient levels of safety and support, particularly in the later stages of training. Strong links were found between the relational concepts students valued in tutors and those previously identified as important in client-therapist and supervisory relationships [Jones, R.A., Mirsalimi, H., Conroy, J.S., Horne- Moyer, H.L., & Burrill, C. (2008). The teaching alliance inventory: Evaluating the student-instructor relationship in clinical and counselling psychology training. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 21, 223-235; Rogers, C.R. (1957). The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 21, 95-103]. Implications for counselling training and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-246
Number of pages14
JournalCounselling Psychology Quarterly
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2011


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