An exploratory qualitative study of values issues associated with training and practice in pluralistic counselling

Ellen Tilley*, Julia McLeod, John McLeod

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)
    578 Downloads (Pure)


    Background: A pluralistic model of practice has become increasingly influential in recent years. A distinctive feature of this approach is its explicit grounding within a philosophical and moral perspective.

    Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate issues and challenges that pluralistic counsellors experience in relation to values dilemmas that arise in practice.

    Methodology: Twelve practitioners, of various experience levels, who identified as pluralistic counsellors, were invited to take part in semi-structured interviews. Transcripts were analysed using a method of thematic analysis.

    Findings: Participants viewed their personal values to be compatible with the values that they perceived pluralistic counselling to hold, and reported that they chose pluralism as a modality because they found a similarity between their personal values and the values of pluralistic counselling. Core values associated with pluralistic practice included the following: the importance of connection, ‘there is no one right way to be’, equality (not taking an expert role), honesty, and willingness to make use of research evidence. Participants also described value dilemmas, and their use of supervision in dealing with value issues.

    Implications: The implications of these findings for training, research and practice are discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)180-187
    Number of pages8
    JournalCounselling and Psychotherapy Research
    Issue number3
    Early online date3 Jul 2015
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2015


    • Counselling
    • Values
    • Pluralism
    • Psychotherapy
    • Qualitative
    • Supervision
    • Training


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