The good, the bad and the uncertainty: Trainees' perceptions of the personal development group

Moller, Naomi P. and Rance, Nicola (2013). The good, the bad and the uncertainty: Trainees' perceptions of the personal development group. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 13(4) pp. 282–289.



Background: Views about the purpose and role of personal development groups (PD group) in the counsellor training process are varied. Some argue they enhance self-awareness, self-exploration, the ability to be congruent and, ultimately, that they make for better practitioners. Others argue there is no clear evidence for such benefits and that they can actually be damaging to trainees. Aims: This study aimed to explore the beliefs of 25 trainees enrolled on counselling diploma or counselling psychology doctoral courses. It looked in particular at their perceptions of the purpose of PD groups and their expectations regarding support, difficulties and the scope of their participation. Method: Data was collected using open-ended questions in an anonymous survey and was subjected to a thematic analysis. Results: Trainees appeared to hold mixed – and sometimes conflicting – views about the PD group. For some it was a positive endeavour that facilitated learning about self and clients, and helped in the processes of developing counselling skills and keeping the training group healthy. For others it was a feared space which could elicit negative emotional experiences, and impact negatively on both learning outside of the PD group and the health of the group itself. Still others were unclear about its purpose. Hope/idealisation (of the process, the facilitator and course tutors) were also evident in the trainees’ responses. Implications: Implications of these findings for counselling training are discussed.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions