Edinburgh Research Explorer

“I feel as though other group members make me feel anxious”: Challenges and reflections on working the inclusive classroom in counselling education

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication International Insights: Equality in Education
EditorsVana Chiou, Oliver Holz, Nesrin Oruç Ertürk, Fiona Shelton
PublisherWaxmann Verlag, Munster
ISBN (Electronic)9783830990222
ISBN (Print)9783830940227
Publication statusPublished - 2019


Whilst the overarching national agendas promoting widening participation are matched by the institutional practice of increasing diversity, the issues that remain seem to be of a qualitative, not quantitative, nature - of how to engage with the diversity in view of enacting inclusive education that does not just benefit some but all of the students. In this paper, I look into the challenge of inclusivity by locating it within the particular context of counselling education, where discussions around inclusive pedagogy are notably scarce. Counselling is a profession which requires heightened self-reflexivity. Counselling training in Higher Education therefore cannot be objectively achieved as the learning itself is fundamentally entrenched in, and inseparable from, the tension between the personal and the inter-personal. Questions then arise for the lecturers, and instructors alike, to contemplate on how we can effectively create and facilitate the learning and a learning environment which is inclusive of diverse learners in their individual developments of self-reflexivity?

Discussions which I wish to generate depart from my reflections of professional experiences in my instructor’s role. Main themes which have been identified for discussions surround the discipline-specific challenges of training self-reflexivity in the face of difference and diversity in the classroom, from which the tension around personal disclosure and interpersonal exposure emerge. The discussions are interweaved with vignettes of my personal observation and interaction with students on the programme. They are pursued from the perspective of the instructor as possessing institutional power, who is tasked to embody power ‘strategically’, as the academic authority, in order to generate facilitative learning environments. Finally, conclusions are drawn to inform further training recommendations for inclusive practices which are grounded within the “relational pedagogy” in counselling education.

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