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"I feel ... I feel different": A Psychosocial Exploration of Trainee Educational Psychologists' Experiences of Personal and Professional Change Over their Doctorate Training

14 January 2021

Author: Dr Stephanie McLaughlin (Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust)

The available literature has shown that the topic of trainee educational psychologists’ (TEPs) experiences of training has been explored predominately through the structures of course content reviews, supervision and evaluations of frameworks and tools.

This research chose to take a different approach and studied the psychosocial experience of training. This exploratory study used the method of thematic analysis with a psychosocial lens for the purpose of exploring TEPs’ experiences of personal and professional change over their doctoral training.

A psychosocial position was taken by the researcher, complementing the psychoanalytic concepts of the unconscious and the ‘defended subject’ and the ‘defended researcher’.

This psychosocial position in line with the methodological approach, enabled the researcher to consider both the psychological and social aspects that influence the TEPs’ experiences of change, but also the intersubjective dynamic within the research interviews for both the participant and researcher.

The interviews were ten in total, five third year participants each took part in two semistructured interviews.

Through the free association narrative interview (FANI) technique, the researcher facilitated the participant to explore what came to mind around their experiences of change, and through a second interview the researcher was able to return to the rich content of the first interview and reflect on this further.

A reflective research diary was used to record the researcher’s personal responses to all aspects of the research.

The findings provide a rich account of five connected themes that were generated from the data: journey; challenges and painful learning; developing educational psychologist (EP) identity; nurture and containment and navigating the course impact on personal relationships.

The strengths and limitations of the study are discussed, together with its implications


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