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Exploring trainee psychologist's self-care practices at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

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Self-care is a crucial culture that mental health practitioners need to embrace to promote their overall well-being. The application of self-care among trainee psychologists is foundational in establishing sustainable wellness and professional development for health professionals. Trainee psychologists are expected to deal with the global impact of the burden of mental health, while they manoeuvre their own professional development. The training process alone is marked with multifaceted cases that require prominent levels of alertness, critical thinking and self-awareness. Such skills are often affected by, stress, burnout and an imbalanced personal, and professional life. This may result in professional impairment. The primary purpose of this study was to explore and describe experiences of trainee psychologists’ level of engagement in self-care practices, to promote their mental health care. In conducting this study, a qualitative research approach was adopted. To gain a rich insight on the participants’ experiences; a semi-structured interview guide was used to interview Seven University of Kwa-Zulu Natal trainees who were enrolled in a master’s clinical psychology programme. Data collected for this study were interpreted and analysed using the Health Belief Model as a conceptual framework. Findings from this study demonstrated that trainees, in the programme, experienced challenges that included poor completion of the research component, poor supervision alliance, detrimental power dynamics, difficulties in transitioning from coursework to internship, and difficulties in balancing professional life and personal life. These challenges, negatively impact the trainees’ mental health. However, adopted self-care strategies such as exercise, personal therapy, socialising and spirituality, contributed positively to their mental health. Support was the widely preferred coping skill adopted by trainees. The findings suggest that educating trainees about self-care practices can be a vital part of helping trainees to establish a sustainable mental wellness culture.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.