Creative Resistance as a Way of Being: Exploring the process of engaging person centred counselling teachers in participatory action research.

Over the past decades there have been significant changes in the therapeutic profession, and subsequently in the education of person centred counsellors and the situation of person centred counselling counselling teachers. We have experienced increasing pressure from both the health and education arenas as the neo-liberal agenda has lead to increasing tensions between humanistic approaches and the cognitive and behavioural models. This has put pressure on us as person centred counsellors, supervisors and teachers to justify our practice and technical expertise according to 'efficiency' and 'accountability' discourses.

Yet there is disappointingly little research into how this growing state regulation and increasing standardisation is impacting upon our work as person centred counselling teachers. Thus if we are to address such challenges there is an urgent need to discover who we are, what we do, and how and why we do it, particularly. Although the research is markedly limited, it is however consistent in finding person centred counselling teachers who are feeling isolated, threatened, devalued, compromised and constrained in institutions with very different values. Such research has highlighted the importance of building support networks to create 'sense of place' and confront the neo-liberal challenge.

As a person centred counsellor, supervisor and tutor I am researching the experiences of person centred teachers who, like myself, are encountering significant challenges and anxieties in their role. Participatory Action Research (PAR) begins with a group acknowledging a shared concern, and attending and responding to professional dilemmas as a focused group, rather than as individuals. This means that in this research project participants will be co-researchers, having a joint role in the research and analysing the results and determining any further actions.

I am looking for person centred counselling teachers who would like to inform and effect change in our profession. Participation will involve working with a small number of other person centred counselling tutors in the North West of England. It will require a commitment to meet once a month on a Saturday morning 10am-1pm (in Preston) until March 2019. It may also require further independent work between the group meetings, as little or as much as you are able to offer. No previous research experience is needed and only basic computers skills are necessary. The only requirements are:

  • that participants define themselves as a person centred counselling teacher
  • that participants have a teaching role (any level/organisation/hours)

If you choose to participate in our group I will introduce you to the research project in more detail. As a participant you will keep an individual journal to document your experience of the process and undertake two individual interviews, the first at the end of the project and the second six months after completion, to consider the longer term impact of the project. If at any point you wish to withdraw from the project you are free to do so.

Contact Deborah Bentley: DBentley4@uclan.ac.uk