The Positive Experiences of Becoming a Psychologist: A Master’s Student’s Journey

DOI: 10.1080/20797222.2017.1299284
Author(s): L. NelLecturer, Department of Psychology, South Africa, P. FouchéAssociate Professor, Department of Psychology, South Africa


Since most research on the topic of experiences related to becoming a psychologist is conducted from a pathogenic paradigm, the study reported in this paper aimed to describe the journey of a clinical master’s student from the perspective of positive psychology. A strengths-based paradigm allowed the researcher and the participant to understand the journey through the lens of personal growth, professional development, coping strategies, and attempts to make sense of the related difficulties. In this study, a qualitative research approach was used and a single case study design was employed. Data analysis followed the procedure of interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Themes that were conceptualized and operationalized within the structure of psychological well-being (Ryff, 1989) comprised six well-being domains, namely (a) personal growth; (b) purpose in life; (c) autonomy; (d) self-acceptance; (e) positive relationships with others; and (f) environmental mastery. The most prominent finding was that, while the experience of becoming a psychologist is known to be a long and difficult journey, it can also be rewarding and positive, and holds the potential to enhance psychological well-being.

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