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Transcending polarities: counsellors' and psychotherapists' experiences of transformation

Macaskie, Jane Frances (2014) Transcending polarities: counsellors' and psychotherapists' experiences of transformation. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This study of therapists’ experiences of transformation arose from reflections on the longing for change which motivates many clients to seek therapy and draws many therapists to the profession of counselling/psychotherapy. Therapy research typically focuses on outcomes and change processes, but the nature of transformational experiences, particularly for therapists, is not well documented. The aim of this study was to investigate therapists’ experiences of personal and professional transformation, including my own. It therefore involved a personal quest for individuation. An autoethnographic account of the parallel research and individuation processes is interwoven with a dialogical analysis of research conversations with seven experienced counsellors/psychotherapists. The initial conversations were video-recorded and an adaptation of Interpersonal Process Recall was used to facilitate joint discussion of the recordings. Selected key moments were analysed dialogically. My experience as researcher was documented by recording dreams, drawing and reflexive writing. These artefacts provided data for the autoethnographic account. Psychotherapy theories and practices, particularly Jung’s (1960) concept of the collective unconscious and method of active imagination, offered a lens through which the data were viewed. The study demonstrated that transformational experience often required an intersubjective relationship to enable shifts in perspective or new ways of being. Dynamic relational processes therefore became significant elements of transformation. The research conversations demonstrated processes facilitative of transformation as well as resistance. Building on Stern’s (2004) concept of moments of meeting, the study suggests the significance for lasting change of additional intersubjective events identified as moments of not-meeting, reflective moments of meeting and shared interest focus. Elements contributing to transformation were identified as firstly the connection of thinking with feeling and secondly reflection on the connection within a relational matrix, leading to integration and potentially to transformative action. The nature of transformational experience was found to involve transcending polarised states or positions, enabling movement towards a third perspective. The antithesis of transformation, referred to here as –T, was noted in some professional contexts. The implications for therapeutic practice and other relational settings, and for therapy education, research and the professional social context, are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: transformation, counselling and psychotherapy, dialogical analysis, autoethnography, individuation
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Medicine and Health (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Medicine and Health (Leeds) > School of Healthcare (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.634270
Depositing User: Dr Jane Macaskie
Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2015 13:17
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2018 09:50
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/7239

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