A Grounded Theory of Wellbeing and Resilience: Counselling Psychologists’ perceptions of these constructs in the self, the client and the workplace

  • Nicola Peek

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Following years of increasing pressures upon health and social care services, factors such as prolonged underfunding and the Covid-19 Pandemic, have only exacerbated difficulties for the exiting workforce in terms their wellbeing and resilience, reflected in high sickness-levels, poor morale and widespread burnout. Surveys by the British Psychological Society (BPS) (2019, 2020) suggest how Practitioner Psychologists have similarly been impacted, with most reporting how such unsustainable demands were leading them and others to feel physically and emotionally exhausted, and, burnt out (BPS, 2020). As research involving Counselling Psychologists in this area is extremely limited, the decision was made to focus solely upon the perspectives of this professional group and the insights they could offer in this area.

    The aim of this study was to explore Counselling Psychologists’ experiences and perceptions of ‘wellbeing’ and ‘resilience’ in relation to the self, client work and the workplace.

    Following a Constructivist Grounded Theory methodology, eleven HCPC registered Counselling Psychologists were recruited and interviewed using a semi-structured interview protocol. A grounded theory was constructed from the data that reflected major themes that emerged from the analysis.

    Findings and Conclusions
    Several key factors were identified as impacting how ‘wellbeing’ and ‘resilience’ are constructed, including: systemic factors, sense of safety vs unsafety, workplace culture, vulnerability, boundaries, self-awareness and the role of privilege. The emergent theory suggested that while wellbeing and resilience are separate constructs, that they are intrinsically linked:
    (i) by attending to wellbeing needs, the capacity for resilience is also fortified, with rest and recuperation enabling space for reflection, learning and growth, but also,
    (ii) resilience supports the ability to endure periods of hardship or adversity, through which, experiential learning can take place, expanding self-awareness and insights into individual limits and personal needs.
    Implications of this research and its relevance to the field of Counselling Psychology are also discussed, with additional recommendations for practice.
    Date of Award2024
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorShelley Gait (Supervisor) & Ruth Northway (Supervisor)

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