Counselling and professionalism: a phenomenological analysis of counsellor experience

Christine Tapson

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In this article, the author discusses findings from an interpretative phenomenological study which explores challenging issues in relation to professionalism for counselling, and illuminates features in need of consideration in relation to organisational contexts. These features include the rapid reconfiguration of professionalism in response to contemporary organisational structures such as policy and managerial driven incentives. Using two individual semi-structured interviews, the meaning of professionalism for counsellors is explored. The author proposes that the rapidly growing disparity between old or occupational professionalism, as opposed to new or organizational professionalism, causes uncertainty for counsellors who may struggle to maintain their professional identity. The counsellor’s sense of professionalism is further disempowered if they feel themselves unheard, causing the counsellor to either resist or disengage from organizational obligations. Findings suggest that a counsellor’s sense of professionalism is more ably communicated if their place in an organisation is enacted rather than imposed. The author discusses the experiences of two counsellors in relation to the literature on professionalism, with focus upon the emotional reactions which were expressed as to organisational changes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-165
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Counselling Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2016


  • counselling
  • occupational professionalism
  • new professionalism
  • phenomenological


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