Teacher perceptions of the influence of a psychotherapeutic counselling course on their identity and practice
This paper reports on a project that explored teachers’ perceptions of how knowledge and experiential learning gained on a psychotherapeutic counselling programme contributed to their identities and practices as teachers. It seeks to understand the impact such knowledge may have in practice, particularly on their relationships with children. The project employed creative narrative inquiry. Individual, in-depth interviews were conducted with four participants on two occasions each. Stories and images were generated and analysed utilising a framework derived from narrative inquiry and critical narrative analysis. A highly reflexive and ethical stance was taken throughout. Participants identify personal development as being of particular importance in terms of their relationships with pupils. They specifically identify changes in understanding that resulted in altered responses to children. These responses, in turn, led to improved relationships. Teachers reported this to be beneficial and some stories told of increased confidence, satisfaction, empowerment, liberation and wellbeing. Analysis also illuminated conflict and tension between differing approaches in schools to children and to the handling of their behaviour. Findings suggest that in culture where a behavioural approach in schools is dominant, it can be useful to employ alternative understandings. Implications are therefore relevant to current debates about the place of emotional life in education and to the agendas of initial teacher education and teacher’s continuing professional development.