Social Justice in UK Counselling Psychology: Exploring the perspectives' of members of the profession who have a high interest in and commitment to social justice

UoM administered thesis: Phd


Background and objectives: Despite a large amount of theoretical literature,empirical research into the area of social justice in counselling psychology has beenlimited to date. Furthermore, no research has explored this topic from the perspectiveof UK based counselling psychologists. The overarching purpose of this study wastherefore to explore the social justice interest and commitment of members of theUK counselling psychology profession. Method and analyses: A mixed methodsdesign was employed. A preliminary quantitative survey phase was followed by thepriority stage of the research, in which qualitative interviews were conducted withsix members of the counselling psychology profession with at least a moderateinterest in and commitment to social justice. Qualitative data were analysed usingtools from the grounded theory approach. Connection of the two phases of researchoccurred at participant selection for the qualitative phase and in the interpretationphase. Findings: Quantitative findings were limited; however, comparative toprevious studies using the same measure, members of the counselling psychologyprofession have lower levels of social justice interest and commitment. Qualitativefindings highlighted two core categories within the data: 'Counselling psychologists'understanding of social justice in counselling psychology and their connection to it'and 'Counselling psychologists' reflections on social justice action'. Conclusions:The qualitative findings extend our understanding of counselling psychologists'social justice interest and commitment and aid interpretation of the initialquantitative findings. Participants defined social justice in a way which is largelyconsistent with the theoretical literature but reported some difficulties with thiswhich may be due to training in the area. Results relating to social justice actionindicate that whilst some UK-based counselling psychologists are acting on theirsocial justice values, there are numerous issues which potentially limit this.Recommendations for theory, further research and practice are discussed.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date31 Dec 2013