Personal tutoring in transition

From periphery to core: personal tutoring in transition

Team members: Alette Willis, Siobhan Canavan


As a profession, counsellors draw on "personal practical wisdom" (Dunne, 2011) alongside book learning; hence, counsellor training develops students' intellectual abilities and capacities for selfreflection and self-understanding. Based on a relational understanding of self, such training balances individual and group work in a supportive, relational environment. For 25 years, counselling training at the University of Edinburgh has been innovative in using a personal tutor (PT) system. This system is in transition this year, offering a unique opportunity to compare two PT approaches: Core and Periphery models.

Our research will explore staff and student experiences using group and individual interviews. This study will enable Counselling and Psychotherapy to make any adjustments needed to ensure the continuation of high quality student experience. As the University develops its own personal tutor system, this research is timely in investigating a different but equally innovative model. Our research findings are expected to inform that system and the provision of pastoral care more widely. Additionally, it has applicability for other training programmes where students draw on practical wisdom in interacting with potentially vulnerable persons.

The School of Health is widely regarded for the quality of learning and support it offers students. This research investigates one significant strand in that experience. In a preliminary search, no literature on PTs in professional trainings was found. We will survey the twenty-five UK HEIs that provide counsellor education to discover potential comparable pedagogical processes. We will disseminate our findings to the counselling community as well as to the higher education community.

Completion report