A peer professional learning group: A professional identity forum
Alford, Z. (2012). A peer professional learning group: A professional identity forum (Thesis, Master of Counselling (MCouns)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/6097
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/6097
In response to the challenges of academic work when studying for Masters of Counselling degrees at a distance from the university while living in a geographically isolated community in Aotearoa New Zealand, Kandyce Bevan, Nicola Carroll and I came together to work in a peer professional learning group. This thesis tells the stories of how we worked together, and what we did when we worked together. Although our original intentions in working together were to help each other with our university studies and practise counselling skills, what we achieved was the provision of a forum for performing, audiencing, and authenticating our fledgling professional identities and knowledge in the liminal phase of the rite of passage between being positioned as students at university and full immersion in professional practice. Nicola, Kandyce and I collaborated in deciding the focus, research question, and method for this project. We drew on the practices and postmodern philosophies of narrative therapy in our deliberations. Accordingly, social constructionism, post-structuralism, discourse and positioning theories underpin this project. The method chosen was a bricolage of qualitative research methods: co-operative inquiry, appreciative inquiry, narrative inquiry, and participatory action research. We met five times for this project. The first three meetings were to decide and refine the focus of the project, the research question and the method. The fourth meeting was the main data-generating conversation. In the fifth meeting Nicola and Kandyce were invited to comment on, and contribute to, the stories I had constructed from our conversations. The key finding of this project was that it is important, useful, and indeed may be necessary, for students learning a postmodern approach to counselling to have an appropriate forum outside the university in which their fledgling professional identities and knowledge can be performed, audienced and authenticated. Many students will be able to engage supervisors with a matched paradigm for the purpose of such performances. However, in the absence of supervisors who know narrative practice, such performance of professional identity may not be possible. A peer professional learning group, such as ours, may not be able to fulfil all of the functions of supervision, but it can provide a forum to contribute significantly to the shaping of professional identity. It can also provide a safe place to practise counselling skills ethically, and act as a crucible for the co-construction of knowledge.
University of Waikato
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