Thumbnail Image

"How did I get here:" An autoethnographic study of a counsellor educator's lived experience of 'becoming'

This study considers the usefulness of applying key concepts of the Rogerian theory of ‘becoming a person’ as a framework to theorise the personal growth and change process of becoming a counsellor. It is contended that person-centred philosophy and theory provides one way in which to view the personal development of the person of counsellor during training. This hypothesis is based on the recognition of a perceived similar change and growth process which Rogers identified in clients in therapy, with those of training counsellors. After reviewing the literature on the importance placed on the personal development of counsellors in training, a distinction is made between personal development and personal growth. An apparent gap is identified within undergraduate training. It is recognised that some students, in particular mature students, training at undergraduate tertiary level for the first time, have unique challenges from those within post graduate programmes. A further gap within the literature is the self-study of a student’s own experience and perceptions of undertaking counsellor training at this level. Therefore, fitting the above demographic, the author retrospectively examines her personal experience using an autoethnographic method of enquiry. With this method the researcher is both an “insider” and “outsider” (Dyson, 2007, p. 39) of the cultural context under investigation. Autoethnographic data consists of a poem titled: School Reports, which contains the story of a failed high school student. Other data are drawings created using the metaphor of an acorn growing into an oak tree to symbolise Rogers’s theoretical propositions of a theory of personality and behaviour. Reflective journal entries written during undergraduate counsellor training further support the analysis. The author’s poem and drawings form the basis of an autoethnographic inquiry analysed through a number of Rogerian philosophical concepts of development along with ‘moments of movement’ towards change and growth. The main focus of personal growth and change centres on the author’s early development of the self-concept of a failed high school student, revised to a self-concept of successful, due to the curative experience of training. The conclusion is made that the primary Rogerian theoretical concept of becoming a person, the organism’s tendency to actualise, along with its “moments of movement” (Rogers, 1961, p. 130), can provide one way in which to conceptualise the personal growth and change process in becoming a counsellor. Implications for counsellor education is the consideration of facilitating growth promoting learning environments and learning opportunities. The principal limitation of the study is identified as applying classic person-centred theory as a framework whereas contemporary theorising would consider the person in both context and environment. A self-study on just one experience of a mature student in undergraduate training was also considered a limitation. Both these limitations warrant further investigation. A further recommendation for further research is a comparative study examining the personal growth and change process of counsellors in training from different philosophical positions.
Type of thesis
Dobbs, A. (2015). ‘How did I get here:’ An autoethnographic study of a counsellor educator’s lived experience of ‘becoming’ (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/9608
University of Waikato
All items in Research Commons are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.