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A Portfolio of Academic, Therapeutic Practice and Research Work Including a Qualitative Study Giving Voice and Bearing Witness to Refugee Children's Experiences.

Strak, Agatha. (2003) A Portfolio of Academic, Therapeutic Practice and Research Work Including a Qualitative Study Giving Voice and Bearing Witness to Refugee Children's Experiences. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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I have chosen to begin the introduction to my portfolio with this quote, which reflects my personal stance. It refers to the ‘real relationship’ (Clarkson, 1994) and the self-reflection and personal development inherent in the ethos of counselling psychology. This portfolio is the end result and pinnacle of three years of training on the Practitioner doctorate course in psychotherapeutic and counselling psychology. It endeavours to give a coherent account of my personal and professional development as a counselling psychologist and integrative practitioner. The portfolio is divided into three sections: academic, therapeutic practice and research. The academic dossier contains four essays, each one applying to different theories or aspects of theory and modes of therapeutic practice. The therapeutic practice dossier includes descriptions of my clinical placements and the final clinical paper outlines how I have begun to integrate theory, practice and research. The research dossier contains one literature review and two empirical pieces of research, one qualitative study and one quantitative. The academic dossier contains four papers. The first paper addresses Kohut’s theory 3 of development of the self (Kohut, 1971) and his work with clients with narcissistic personality difficulties. This essay was written at a time when I was attempting to reconcile ideas from psychoanalytic theory with the humanistic approach, particularly in regards to clients with more complex difficulties. I found Kohut’s ideas provided a framework for that integration. The second paper is also within the realm of the psychodynamic approach focusing on the phenomenon of projective identification. Through the use of supervision and clinical experiences I was able to begin to explore and disentangle my experience of projective identification from the client’s material. This influenced me to write this particular essay. My fascination for the topic was further explored through my work with Mrs C., which is referred to in the essay. In addition, my experiences in personal therapy also shed light on how unbearable feelings are transferred onto the therapist, who is made to experience them as their own. My work with clients with interpersonal difficulties within the community mental health team was challenging. The model I was working from was cognitive behavioural, and hence limiting within the area of the interpersonal. In the third essay, I explored the therapeutic relationship in cognitive therapy, and how ruptures to the alliance can be attended to by employing the therapeutic belief system (TBS) (Rudd & Joiner, 1997) and the cognitive-interpersonal cycle (Safran, 1984; Safran & Segal, 1990). In my strife toward becoming an integrative practitioner, the final essay considers the schema-focused approach as a framework for reconciling the cognitive behavioural and psychoanalytic object relational approach. Again, this framework is explored in regards to working with individuals with difficulties in the realm of the interpersonal. Therapeutic practice dossier: The therapeutic dossier contains descriptions of my three clinical placements and the final clinical paper, which attempts to ascertain my approach to integrating theory, research, therapeutic practice, personal therapy and supervision. Research dossier: The research dossier consists of one literature review and two empirical pieces of research. My interest for exploring the area of child refugee experience and its consequences has been influenced by my own transition and past. Additionally, many people close to me have been refugees as children, and have encountered similar and different experiences in relation to their flight and adaptation. Furthermore, following my first degree I worked with refugee children for a year, and was confronted with social, cultural, political and psychological issues that concern refugee children and adolescents today. This paired with my personal experience and political stance led my desire to pursue this area of inquiry. The literature review considers the research concerned with refugee children, their experiences and mental health. It gives a chronological review of the research, but also identifies a gap, where refugee stories and narratives have been lost or never attended to. Following the literature review, I felt that a different perspective needed to be explored, and who could better be asked about their experiences than refugee children and adolescents themselves. The first empirical piece of research is a qualitative study and investigates children’s views, stories and meaning making of their experiences, heard through their own voices. I have applied relationship and voice as a way of analysing their narratives and encouraging the breaking of silence (Aarts, 1998; Danieli, 1998). I was still intrigued how these children made such positive meaning of their experiences, and whilst considering my own development 5 as an adult with a refugee background, I wanted to explore the long-term effects of having been a refugee child. The second piece of research is a quantitative study, which has a long-term perspective in the sense that it uses retrospective data and current accounts of adults. Through a questionnaire survey, a group of adults who had been refugees as children were compared to a group of controls on a number of measures. Again, this study wanted to challenge the overwhelming paradigm of PTSD (Summerfield, 2000), and offer an alternative perspective. Conclusion: This portfolio is a collection of academic, therapeutic practice and research ventures over three years of training. With this introduction I have attempted to give some background to the different pieces of work in each dossier. I hope the portfolio will give a comprehensive and transparent insight into the development of my counselling psychologist identity. Names and any other identifying features relating to clients, placements and placement supervisors etc. in this portfolio have been changed or omitted, in order to ensure confidentiality.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors : Strak, Agatha.
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 14:30

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