Patchworks of practice: helping student counsellors develop coherence in personal and theoretical integration
AuthorsMeakin, Beverley Joan
Subject Categories::B940 Counselling
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AbstractThis thesis explores an area of my teaching practice with students on an integrative counselling course. Students work towards integrating differing counselling approaches with their personal values and beliefs. I devised a reflexive tool I refer to as Patchwork of Practice to facilitate this process. Patchwork aims to aid reflexivity around and within the interface between personal and professional experiences, thoughts and emotions. This raises awareness of values and beliefs and informs a counselling approach that is coherent with their way of being as a person (Anderson, 2001). The metaphor of Patchwork carries an idea of stitching together Patches of learning and experience to create an integrative approach that fits each student. Students create a Patch every few weeks, individually, then share this in small groups where other perspectives co-construct meaning and widen learning. A Patch can be in any media (writing, poetry, drawing, image) and represents an aspect of training or personal experience (past or present). To evaluate Patchwork of Practice, I explored student counsellors’ experience of using it over two years, through individual interviews and group discussions. In addition, interviews with qualified counsellors explored ongoing effects. To create congruence with the idea of stitching Patches together, I brought different research paradigms together in what I refer to as a Patchwork Methodology. Systemic Inquiry brought relational reflexivity, respect and curiosity in exploring participants’ stories, and attention to relational ethics of practitioner research. Themes were analysed using narrative portraiture (Lawrence-Lightfoot and Hoffman Davis, 1997) and informed teaching through ongoing Action Research reflexive cycles. The different stages of Heuristic research (Moustakas, 1990) provided a framework for these research activities. Additionally, Patchwork of Practice was adapted as autoethnography. I explored my integrating process, illustrated with examples of Patches. Here, Patchwork joined with ecology in a landscape metaphor — a rural landscape depicting how I see my life and practice. The structure of this thesis also evolved from the landscape metaphor. I found participants valued the freedom to use any media to create a Patch. This creative process, the Patch itself and sharing in a group, brought extended awareness of the influences that shaped their development as a person and as a counsellor. So, Patchwork of Practice was useful as a tool for reflexivity around personal and professional development. Other findings included benefits for self-care, for the participants as counsellors and for me as researcher. Patchwork of Practice was also used as self-supervision and adapted by participants to use with clients. One conclusion of this inquiry is to note the importance of connecting individual and group reflections focussed around a Patch. This combination opens a learning pathway that integrates individual and relational reflexivity. There is potential to use Patchwork of Practice as a reflexive tool in other professions and learning environments where awareness of personal influences on professional practice is important.
CitationMeakin.B.J (2020) 'Patchworks of Practice: Helping Student Counsellors Develop Coherence in Personal and Theoretical Integration' Prof Doc Thesis. University of Bedfordshire
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
Description"A thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Professional Doctorate in Systemic Practice'.
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