Becoming a psychologist : students' accounts of their experiences of clinical training

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Interviews were conducted with 14 University of Cape Town Masters' students from three consecutive years to explore their emotional experiences of the professional training in clinical psychology. A qualitative analysis was conducted to identity, in particular, what aspects of their training they found difficult and how they coped with these difficulties. It adopts a psychodynamic approach in examining and understanding the interview material. It was found that trainees struggled mostly with the pervasive feeling of 'not being good enough', feeling unsupported by staff: changes in their interpersonal relationships and challenges facing them in their personal development. Other difficulties identified ranged from trainees' unmet expectations, the heavy workload and the emotional nature of their work. The research highlights the way in which trainees hopes, fears and expectations both conscious and unconscious determines, to a large extent, the way in which the training is experienced and managed. It was identified that trainees coped with these difficulties in various ways. Mostly, however, they coped by talking to classmates and others in the profession, reassessing their expectations as well as distancing themselves emotionally from the painful and difficult experiences encountered during training.

Bibliography: leaves 77-82.