A longitudinal examination of UK trainee applied psychologist change and development

Hayley McEwan, David Tod

Research output: Contribution to conferencePresentationpeer-review


Objectives: We examined developmental changes experienced by clinical, counselling, and sport and exercise trainee psychologists during postgraduate training. Design: Longitudinal qualitative study. Methods: Following university ethics approval, we interviewed 26 trainee psychologists (6 counselling, 9 clinical and 11 sport) 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. The authors adhered to the British Psychological Society’s (BPS) Code of Ethics and Conduct. Clinical and counselling participants were completing doctorate programmes, and sport and exercise trainees were enrolled on the BPS Qualification in Sport and Exercise Psychology. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and subject to a thematic content analysis.
Results: 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; greater holistic understanding of the client-change process, and more nuanced ways of assessing change in clients. Through training, participants experienced critical incidents (e.g., receiving poor feedback from a client), changed service-delivery perceptions (e.g., realising the scope of the psychologist’s role and the competences required to work effectively), and increased awareness of their role in a wider service or organisation. Conclusions: 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
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2015
EventBritish Psychological Society Annual Conference 2015 - Liverpool, United Kingdom
Duration: 5 May 20157 May 2015


ConferenceBritish Psychological Society Annual Conference 2015
Abbreviated titleBPS 15
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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