Equipping students to be resourceful practitioners in community settings: a realist analysis

Julia McLeod*, Sally Lumsdaine, Kate Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
127 Downloads (Pure)


Training programmes for counsellors and psychotherapists comprise complex combinations of different types of learning activity. However, research into the process and outcomes of therapy training has almost entirely comprised investigations of specific training elements. In addition, studies of training have not taken account of the potential influence of the social and organisational context within which training is delivered. The present paper reports on a realist analysis of learning mechanisms within a professional counsellor training programme in pluralistic-integrative counselling, drawing on multiple sources of data collected over a ten-year period. Training outcomes were oriented toward preparing trainees to be flexible and resourceful practitioners in non-medicalised community settings. Core learning mechanisms included building on pre-existing skills, knowledge and awareness, and acquiring conceptual tools appropriate to a collaborative style of working, within an immersive learning environment that supported focused reflection and engagement with personally challenging learning tasks. Implications for further research on therapist training, and programme design, are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)496-525
Number of pages30
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling
Issue number4
Early online date17 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2021


  • Case study
  • Counselling
  • Pluralistic therapy
  • Realist methodology
  • Training


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