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A Portfolio of Academic, Therapeutic Practice and Research Work Including an Investigation of Disability Discourses.

Supple, Sarah. (2003) A Portfolio of Academic, Therapeutic Practice and Research Work Including an Investigation of Disability Discourses. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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The portfolio is divided into three sections, i.e. the academic dossier, the therapeutic practice dossier and the research dossier. I will give a brief overview of these three sections in order to consider how the different areas relate to my development over the last three years. The Academic Dossier: This contains four essays, which were written over the three years of my course. The first of these is a critique of how traditional psychological theories of development (specifically Erikson's psychosocial theory of development) may perpetuate certain representations of disability. I felt it was important to include this essay because it indicates an important stage in my development. That is, it symbolises the shift I experienced when moving from undergraduate to postgraduate Psychology training, by demonstrating the move from ‘being expected to just learn theory’ to ‘being able to critique it’. Furthermore this essay marks the beginning of my interest in disability issues. Writing this essay introduced me to the idea that there was a choice about how to view disability and that assumptions embedded in Psychological theory may impact upon this. As I am disabled and registered blind this initiated my own journey of discovery regarding how I perceive my own disability, which led to a sustained research interest in this field. The second essay I have included reflects upon the importance of the therapeutic frame. This reflects my belief that the pragmatics and professional boundaries relating to therapeutic work are essential in order to ensure that good therapeutic work can take place. In addition, I think it may relate to my own reflections regarding how my sight, although not necessarily impeding my ability to be therapeutic did pose some challenges regarding the pragmatics of being a Counselling Psychologist. Although it is important for me to consider how any of my characteristics, including being partially blind may impact upon the therapeutic relationship, it is also important for me to consider the implications of being a non sighted person working in an environment designed for sighted people. Also whilst on placement as a college student I had recognised the importance of boundaries and this essay indicates how I consolidated my position on this during the course. The third and fourth essays discuss transference and the use of relationship in cognitive behavioural therapy. These reflect how I developed an increasing emphasis on relationship throughout the course. I believe the experience of being in relationship is an essential consideration, not only in therapeutic work, but in life more generally. This is a focus that will remain central to my work as I go on to evolve as a practitioner. An account of how a relational focus evolved in my work can be seen in the clinical paper, included in the therapeutic practise dossier. The fourth essay relates to the increasing awareness of integrative ways of working that I developed throughout the three years (this is expanded on in the clinical paper), which I feel will be a central process in my future development. The integrating of cognitive behavioural and psychodynamic ideas, discussed in this essay, highlighted some of the potential challenges posed when working integratively. Furthermore, it highlighted the fact that I need to reflect on how I define specific concepts, such as transference, so as any integrative work remains defined and coherent. Therapeutic Practise Dossier: As well as including the clinical paper mentioned above this dossier contains a summary of the placement work undertaken as part of this course. This summarises the therapeutic work I undertook over the three years. It describes the client centred, psychodynamic and cognitive behavioural/integrative approaches I used and the primary care, student counselling and specialist Psychology contexts that I worked in. Although the written work, pertaining to the therapeutic work undertaken on placement, is available to the examiners of this portfolio, they are not included in order to maintain confidentiality. However, the combination of the description of the placement work I did as well as the clinical paper gives a flavour of the work I undertook. Research Dossier: This contains the three pieces of research I undertook during the three years. These reflect my own personal journey through disability theory, and how I came to develop my own disabled identity, based on a social model of disability. This was facilitated by encountering a diversity of disability theory and research, but also by putting me in touch with other disabled people. That is, the exchanges I had with those people who participated in the research as well as with other disability researchers I encountered when joining a disability research discussion group. This resulted in my becoming a member of the British branch of the disability movement and becoming increasingly aware that disabled people are socially oppressed and excluded. Prior to this course I had been very aware of how people were discriminated against on the grounds of gender, sexuality or ethnicity but had never reflected on how my own cultural group, i.e. disabled people, were being oppressed. I think this new positive and empowered stance made it easier for me to reflect on how my own loss of sight impacted upon my therapeutic work, both practically and psychologically. That is, I was able to explore in my personnel therapy how being partially blind affected my life and my work without having to adopt the traditional perspective of disability as tragic and overwhelmingly negative. The first piece of work in this dossier is a literature review. This enabled me to explore how contemporary psychological research dealt with the issue of disability and with disabled people. Simultaneously I was encountering the social model of disability, which differentiates physical impairment from disability. This approach asserts that the former is a physical state whilst the latter is the consequence of a society that constructs physical and social barriers for those who are physically diverse. I was disappointed to find that the psychological literature I reviewed overwhelmingly adopted a medical model of impairment and that the research was primarily undertaken by non-disabled professionals. I used a material discourse perspective to consider what assumptions were embedded in the research. This led me to conclude that such literature was perpetuating a traditional tragic and negative view of impairment, sustaining the oppression of disabled people. This work also played an important part in my own developing epistemological stance. Thus the second piece of research in this dossier is qualitative and I strove to find the voices of disabled people that I felt were missing in much of the psychological research. Therefore, I asked disabled people about their sense of identity using unstructured interviews. I then used a voice relational method to analyse the data in an attempt to foreground the voices of the participants and consider what representations or assumptions were inherent to our conversations. This hoped to make my presence and influence on the research as transparent as possible. The final piece of research continued this focus on how disabled people can talk about themselves and their experiences of disability, this time using a quantitative method. I struggled with this approach because of the assumptions I felt were embedded in it, many of which I feel perpetuate negative representations of disability, overlooking experiential and phenomenological knowledge and meaning. However, I felt I had to take this opportunity to experience as much as I could, in order to help me know where my future path lay. Although I still have reservations about quantitative methods, I also feel the research raised some important questions about disability studies and what is missing from it, as well as the implications of this for Counselling Psychology.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors : Supple, Sarah.
Date : 2003
Additional Information : Thesis (Psych.D.)--University of Surrey (United Kingdom), 2003.
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 14 May 2020 14:27
Last Modified : 14 May 2020 14:33

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