Problems trainee psychologists encounter in the first interview : a grounded theory analysis of trainee reflections.
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The primary objective of this research was to initiate exploratory research into the challenges that trainee therapists face in the first interview. This research focused on determining what aspects of the first interview the trainee therapists found challenging and exploring what it was about these aspects which made them challenging to the trainees. Further the research sought to explore what coping mechanisms the trainees employed during the first interview in order to negotiate these challenges as well as what effect these challenges had on the experience of the trainees. The research sought to gain an understanding of what it was about these challenges which made them difficult for the trainees. The research is situated within Ronnestad and Skovholt?s (2003) model of professional therapist development whereby the difficulties faced by the novice/trainee therapist can be understood within the framework of the developmental path of the professional therapist. This framework was used to understand the nature of the difficulties encountered at this stage of training. Interpersonal Process Recall (IPR) (Kagan, 1976; Kagan, 1980; & Kagan, 1984) was employed in interviews with 8 Masters first year students following the completion of a first interview with a role play client. The data was analysed using Grounded Theory Analysis and Strauss and Corbin?s (1990, as cited in McLeod, 2001) method of qualitative analysis was employed to analyse and interpret the data. The main findings indicated the pervasive presence of anxiety in novice therapists? experiences of the first interview. In particular this anxiety was generated through a preoccupation with the evaluative component of the exercise which brought to the fore the dynamic internal conflict between the personal, private self and the professional self as the novice attempts to establish a working professional identity. This conflict is played out in the context of the first interview with specific reference to issues around self focus, management of the interview and difficulties with the role-played nature of the exercise. The difficulties encountered tended to generate further anxiety forming a negative feedback loop. Positive coping strategies were employed using „self talk? which led to an increased perception of self-efficacy. Negative coping strategies such as reverting to rigid structured processes resulted in a negative experience and escalated anxiety resulting in perceptions of poor selfefficacy.