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An exploration of how therapists experience erotic feelings in therapy

Kotaki, V. (2016). An exploration of how therapists experience erotic feelings in therapy. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Aims and objectives
This study has three aims. The first aim is to explore how therapists experience erotic feelings in therapy. The second aim is to examine how therapists’ experience of the erotic is constructed, and the third aim is to identify how therapists’ accounts construct the social world. The objectives of the study are to (1) make meaning of therapists’ experience, (2) theorise the basic social processes, contexts and structural conditions that influence the construction of their experience, and (3) suggest practical applications (Braun & Clarke, 2006, 2013, 2014).

The Constructionist model of Thematic Analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006, 2013) is used to analyse the collected qualitative data.

Data were collected by conducting semi-structured interviews with thirteen therapists. The participants were six male and seven female who had more than five years of post-qualification experience. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed and analysed.

The findings suggest that the majority of participants are not prepared for their encounter with the erotic. Most of them perceive it as a mysterious phenomenon, view it as a professional taboo, and argue that it has personal and sensitive meaning for both themselves and their clients. The majority of participants appear to encounter a series of challenges, which they process internally while they handle the erotic explicitly, implicitly or not at all. Participants’ understanding of the erotic is mostly influenced by their clinical experience and the quality of supervision they receive. Their experience of the erotic is constructed through their interaction with society, training institutions, the profession and the regulation of clinical practice. At the same time, due to the inter-relationship between social systems and therapeutic practice, participants’ accounts construct the social world. Participants understand the erotic as a product of therapy and highlight that it can be either constructive or destructive. At last, they advocate that a practical approach to learning, open conversations on the subject and strategies to overcome the restrictions set by society, culture and regulation are required to enable their work with the erotic.

Research findings and implications for practice are discussed. The methodology used to conduct the study is evaluated. Suggestions for further research are provided.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
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