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A Portfolio of Academic, Therapeutic Practice and Research Work Including a Discourse Analytic Investigation of Constructions of Partner Abuse in the British Psychotherapeutic Literature.

Sorfleet, Nicola M. (2008) A Portfolio of Academic, Therapeutic Practice and Research Work Including a Discourse Analytic Investigation of Constructions of Partner Abuse in the British Psychotherapeutic Literature. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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Introduction: This portfolio represents the culmination of the final three years of my counselling psychology training undertaken at the University of Surrey. It contains a selection of academic, therapeutic and research papers that are intended to reflect my personal and professional development as a counselling psychologist. The portfolio is divided in to three dossiers, academic, therapeutic practice and research, each of which I will consider below. However, in order to set the above in context, I will begin by offering the reader a brief synopsis of the personal and professional experiences that originally brought me to embark upon my counselling psychology training. History and experience: My interest in psychology and consequent pursuit of a career in the helping profession trace back to my early childhood experiences. I am aware that witnessing the domestic violence perpetrated by my former stepfather toward my mother and subsequently growing up as the eldest child in a single parent family were important factors in the development of my early care-giving role. As a teenager I went on to discover an interest in psychology, studying it firstly at A level, before going on to undertake an undergraduate degree in the subject. While I found my studies rewarding, the hard science emphasis left me longing for a less fragmented appreciation of human nature. Following graduation I was drawn to a series of roles that I hoped would satisfy this desire. I consequently worked in a variety of educational settings with children and young people who were experiencing a range of emotional and behavioural difficulties. Working with these individuals taught me a great deal about myself, and what I value personally and professionally. While considering my future career options, I came across counselling psychology and was immediately drawn to its philosophy. I was attracted to the possibility of working within a profession that matched my own belief systems with regards to valuing and respecting the uniqueness of the individuals and their phenomenological experience. Academic dossier: The academic dossier consists of two essays written during the course of my training. The therapeutic relationship is the unifying theme of this dossier. The first essay presented examines the phenomenon of sibling dynamics in the therapeutic relationship. I believe I was drawn to this topic because of a growing number of sibling transference and countertransference experiences in my therapeutic work with clients. However, my own sibling experiences will have undoubtedly also influenced my choice of topic. Through writing this essay I became more aware of my developing personal style as a therapist and its potential implications in terms of the therapeutic relationship. As such, I found that sibling dynamics provided me with a useful framework from which I could conceptualise my experiences with clients. In my second essay, I considered how challenges to the therapeutic relationship could be understood and worked with in the context of cognitive behavioural therapeutic (CBT) models. I chose to focus on more contemporary relationally orientated CBT models. Again, this was a reflection of my personal preference for more collaborative styles of therapeutic working. Therapeutic practice dossier: This dossier provides an overview of my experiences as a therapeutic practitioner. It contains descriptions of the clinical placements I have undertaken over the past three years, covering details such as the context and orientation of the work, the client population and supervision. This dossier also contains my final clinical paper, which is a personal account of my personal and professional development as a counselling psychologist. In this paper I outline some of the defining moments that I believe have shaped me as a practitioner and nurtured the development of my identity as a relationally orientated counselling psychologist. Research dossier: This dossier consists of three research papers on the phenomenon of partner abuse, a literature review, a discourse analytic study and a piece empirical attitude research. My choice of research topic was undoubtedly influenced by my own childhood witnessing history of partner abuse. For my literature review I chose to examine the relatively under investigated phenomenon of heterosexual male victimisation. Prior to undertaking the review I was somewhat naive with regards to the controversy surrounding the issue. However, I found the subject matter engaging and I felt moved by the seeming neglect that male victims had experienced. My second paper arose as a consequence of observations made while conducting my literature review. I had been struck by the very cautious and deliberate language employed by authors writing on the issue of male victimisation. I therefore chose to conduct a discourse examination of constructions of partner abuse in the British psychotherapeutic literature. I was particularly surprised by the subsequent lack of articles I found. Indeed I had initially intended to continue with a focus on male victimisation but this was not viable as a result of the paucity of data. The period in which I produced this paper was a personally difficult time and at times I struggled with it. However I am proud of what I eventually managed to achieve in producing this piece. For my final research paper I chose to undertake a study of attitudes towards victims of psychological partner abuse as a function of victim and perpetrator gender. Having comfortably adopted a social constructionist perspective for my previous research paper, I was aware that the magnitude of the epistemological shift would be potentially challenging. However, I hoped it would provide me with the opportunity to gain a more comprehensive appreciation of quantitative methodology, which could assist me in developing a more informed research perspective. Looking back across my three research papers, I feel I have gained much personally and professionally (both as a researcher and practitioner) from this aspect of my training. I believe my skills and enthusiasm for research have grown and I am keen to retain this aspect of my identity as a counselling psychologist beyond the completion of my training. Conclusion: Bringing my work together for this portfolio has been a fascinating experience and one which I believe has made an important contribution to my personal and professional development. I can see now more clearly the process that has defined me as the practitioner I am today and I have become more aware of some previously overlooked patterns with regards to my interests and inclinations. 

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors : Sorfleet, Nicola M.
Date : 2008
Additional Information : Thesis (Psych.D.)--University of Surrey (United Kingdom), 2008.
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 14 May 2020 14:17
Last Modified : 14 May 2020 14:23

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