Counsellors in the gaze : a Foucauldian analysis of counsellors stories around being a counsellor : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Psychology at Massey University
Over recent years there has been in increase in the number of rules and regulations pertaining to counselling in New Zealand. This project looks at the power relations constituted in those changes for a small group of counsellors. The social constructionist perspective is evaluated and found to provide a useful epistemological basis for this inquiry, when used in combination with a critical realist epistemology. This epistemological duality allows the objects under discussion to have different types of ontological status ranging from the socially constructed to the (more or less) real. An overview of the different styles of narrative analysis is presented and the conclusion reached that structural models of identifying and analysing narrative are not appropriate for working with fragmentary narratives. A model is presented for identification and analysis of fragmentary narratives based on content.
Three narratives about being a counsellor are identified; the 'counsellor as double agent', the 'unsupported counsellor' and the 'unyielding counsellor'. The story of the counsellor as double agent is the story of a counsellor who may promote either training or relationship as having primary importance, depending on context. The story of the unsupported counsellor is the story about the lack of support of the relationship aspect of counselling outside of peer circles. The story of the unyielding counsellor is the story of the counsellor who would leave rather than compromise her values. These three narratives are presented as being co existent. Through analysis of these narratives the type of control practise constituted in the new rules and regulations is identified as being a type of 'sovereign ' or overt power practise. This characterisation of that power practise lends validity to subsequent
discussions about resistance to the cultural change constituted in the new requirements. The power practices operating prior to the recent changes are identified as being 'disciplinary' or covert in nature. The conclusion is reached that the 'counsellor' represented by the text under analysis is not necessarily operating under normative regimes, and may at times adopt a deconstructive approach to the processes
underlying construction of behaviour as 'problem'.