On becoming a counsellor: challenges and opportunities to support interpersonal skills training

Petr Slovák, Anja Thieme, David Murphy, Paul Tennent, Patrick Olivier, Geraldine Fitzpatrick

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Well-developed interpersonal skills are crucial for all social interactions. However, understanding how interpersonal skills are taught or learned, and how technology can play a part in this, is yet an under-researched area in CSCW and HCI research. To start addressing this gap, our research explores the learning processes of counselling students, for whom developing interpersonal skills forms a fundamental part of their university education. We followed an iterative process to gain an in-depth understanding of a specific counselling program in the UK, combining interviews and low-fidelity technology prompts. Overall, 26 participants comprising tutors, students and expert counsellors took part. Our findings first provide insights into the highly collaborative and social learning process of the students. We highlight the complexity of interpersonal reflection as a crucial process for developing counselling skills, and identify the challenges to learning that students face. Second, we build on this understanding to draw out empirically grounded design considerations around opportunities for technology innovation in this setting.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCSCW 2015 - Proceedings of the 2015 ACM International Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing
EditorsLuigina Ciolfi, David W. McDonald
Place of PublicationNew York NY USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781450329224
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
EventACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing 2015 - Vancouver, Canada
Duration: 14 Mar 201518 Mar 2015
Conference number: 18th


ConferenceACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing 2015
Abbreviated titleCSCW 2015
Internet address


  • Counselling Training
  • Education
  • Empathy
  • Healthcare
  • Reflective Design.
  • Relational Skills

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