Inner Experiences and Personal Growth with Person-Centred Counselling Among Malay Female University Students in Malaysia
Mohamad, Mardiana (2008) Inner Experiences and Personal Growth with Person-Centred Counselling Among Malay Female University Students in Malaysia. PhD thesis, Universiti Putra Malaysia.
Despite the high regard practitioners and counsellor educators have for the person-centred approach to counselling, their main concerns in applying the approach in the Malaysian context are the lack of structure and direction in its egalitarian counsellor-client relationship style, and the counsellor’s personal qualities of genuineness, unconditional positive regard and empathy. In relation to these concerns, the study aimed to describe the inner experiences and personal growth among female Malay university students attending the person-centred counselling. Firstly, the inner experiences of the clients in the study with regard to the non-directive, egalitarian relationship as postulated by the counselling approach were described. Secondly, the clients’ inner experiences in response to the person-centred counsellor’s qualities of genuineness, unconditional positive regard and empathy were also explored. The third objective was to explore the clients’ experience of personal growth as they engaged in the process of self-exploration in a non-directive, egalitarian counselling relationship with a person-centred counsellor. Fourth, the study attempted to describe the indicators of personal growth based on aspects of non-verbal expressions of the clients, in their relationship with a genuine, unconditionally accepting and empathic counsellor. The study employed the qualitative case study design. Based on purposive sampling technique, three Malay female clients participated in the study. They were students from a local university, aged twenty to twenty-four years old with situational and developmental concerns. Clients attended twelve counselling sessions conducted by the researcher who had undergone training and been certified as person-centred counsellor by three observer judges. Altogether, thirty-five counselling sessions were held for the purpose of the study. All the sessions were audio-visually recorded with the permission of the clients. The sessions were transcribed and qualitatively analysed to meet the purpose of the study. Clients were requested to write journal entries after each session. Interpersonal process recall interviews were also conducted with each client. Finally, based on the audio-visual recording of the counselling sessions, the clients’ non-verbal expressions were observed and described by the researcher. The study indicated that the Malay clients were apprehensive at the beginning of the counselling relationship; however, as they perceived the counsellor was genuine, accepting and empathic, they became more positive with the counselling sessions and the counsellor’s personal qualities. Although some of them had expected to receive advice from the counsellor, the counsellor’s personal qualities enabled them to appreciate the counselling relationship despite its non-directive nature. In terms of the indicators of personal growth, the major themes include flow of emotion, awareness of self, others and experience, personal changes, self-directed behaviour and spiritual dimension. Clients’ non-verbal behaviour also indicated some constructive changes where less rigidity and more congruent expressions were manifested by their eye-contacts, body posture, hand and arm gestures, vocal cues, eyes and facial expressions. The findings provided information on the inner experiences and personal growth of the Malay female clients participated in person-centred counselling. Limitations and implications of the study were discussed, and recommendations for future research were provided.
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