Professional faces :professionalisation as strategy in New Zealand counselling, 1974-1998
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis examines the impact of government action on the professional organisation of New Zealand counselling. In the late 1980s the government opened up opportunities for counsellors to gain funding for a new client group: people who had experienced sexual abuse. This opportunity to expand the coverage of clients for some counsellors encouraged counsellors to use the rhetoric of professionalisation as a strategy to improve their status and credibility in the eyes of the public and government. The same rhetoric provided justification for government to endorse the counsellors' professionalisation project. The thesis provides an account of the ways in which both government and diverse groups of counsellors used the rhetoric of professionalisation as a strategy to enforce and negotiate claims over occupational jurisdiction. Despite well documented sociological criticisms of linear or trait theories of professionalisation, their face validity is still widely accepted within professions. The thesis demonstrates how counsellors used a version of trait theories to guide their policies and actions. It shows how they combined this strategy with the active involvement of government in their professionalisation project. The combined strategy involved simultaneous competition and co-operation between and among counsellors and government personnel. The thesis suggests that counselling's professionalisation project in New Zealand would be better understood as a complex set of shifting arrangements between government and aspirant diverse professional groups. My work is based on the analysis of documents from, and interviews with personnel in, the New Zealand Association of Counsellors, university-based counsellor education programmes and the government agency that provides funding for specific types of counselling (the Accident Rehabilitation and Compensation Insurance Company).