Learning from triads: training undergraduates in counselling skills

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Research has shown that counselling skills training in undergraduate programmes is effective. However, there is potential that premature intimacy and disclosures during triad work may impact on relationships which must be maintained out-with the counselling component of the course. Little research has examined individual pedagogical practices within training.

The aim of this research was to explore the experience of the practical skills training component of a counselling course for a cohort of undergraduate students, and the impact of this learning experience. The objective being an evaluation of the use of this approach for this group and of the impact of personal sharing within cohorts of undergraduates.

Semi-structured interviews focusing on the experience of skills training and self-disclosure during training were carried out on 12 undergraduates taking counselling skills modules as part of their BSc Psychology and Counselling degree. Thematic analysis was carried out on the interview transcripts.

As a result of engagement in skills training and acting as ‘clients’ for one another, individuals perceived the formation of a positive group identity with implicit ‘rules’, but also an impact of training on relationships within the group which relied on the ability to maintain boundaries and personal identities with peers, and this influenced the learning experience. The ability to manage their engagement on the programme was dependent on ongoing support and guidance from tutors.

While this pedagogical approach appears appropriate for facilitating learning and potentially provides a rich learning journey for undergraduate students, tutors must act proactively to ensure a safe learning environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-131
Number of pages9
JournalCounselling and Psychotherapy Research
Issue number2
Early online date9 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


  • Counselling
  • Psychotherapy
  • Skills
  • Training
  • Undergraduate


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