A longitudinal examination of UK trainee applied psychologist change and development

Hayley McEwan, David Tod

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


There is a growing body of literature into practitioner development and training, with increasing numbers of students embarking on careers in applied sport psychology (ASP). Research on practitioner training and development has focused on discrete components of training such as reflective practice (Cropley et al., 2010) and development of professional philosophies (Collins et al., 2013). However, there has been limited interest in studying how ASP trainees holistically develop service delivery competence. Tod (2007) proposed that counsellor development theory (Rønnestad & Skovholt, 2003) could provide a framework to synthesise ASP practitioner development knowledge. The purpose of the present study was to examine developmental change in clinical, counselling, and sport and exercise trainee psychologists during postgraduate training drawing upon counsellor development theory. Following university ethics approval, 26 trainee psychologists (6 counselling, 9 clinical and 11 sport) were interviewed 3 times over 2 years regarding professional development changes during their training programmes. Semi-structured interviews allowed participants to explore their development. The interview schedule was informed by the professional development literature. Clinical and counselling participants were completing doctorate programmes, and sport and exercise trainees were enrolled on a qualification in Sport and Exercise Psychology. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and subject to a thematic content analysis. Developmental changes across the groups of trainees included reduced anxiety in meeting with clients; increased trainee-led supervision; greater flexibility in the use of interventions tailored to client needs, and more nuanced ways of assessing change in clients. Through training, participants experienced critical incidents (e.g., receiving poor feedback from a client), and changed service-delivery perceptions (e.g., realising the scope of the psychologist’s role and the competences required to work effectively). The findings of this research could provide new ideas to optimise training (e.g., sport psychology adopting a ‘teaching hospital’ model similar to clinical psychology).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings 14th European Congress of Sport Psychology
EditorsOlivier Schmid, Roland Seiler
Place of PublicationBern
PublisherEuropean Federation of Sport Psychology
Number of pages2
ISBN (Print)9783033051294
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2015
EventEuropean Federation of Sport Psychology (FEPSAC) Congress - Bern, Switzerland
Duration: 14 Jul 201519 Jul 2015


ConferenceEuropean Federation of Sport Psychology (FEPSAC) Congress
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'A longitudinal examination of UK trainee applied psychologist change and development'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this