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Qualitative research study on practitioners’ experiences of connection in the therapeutic encounter

Vesey, R. P. (2020). Qualitative research study on practitioners’ experiences of connection in the therapeutic encounter. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


In spite of a plethora of evidence that psychological and physical well-being is linked to the quality of interpersonal communications and that healing therapeutic interactions are more about ‘being–in-relation’ than ‘technical expertise’, psychotherapeutic and counselling psychology research is increasingly dedicated to interventions and modalities, to comply with a health-care environment, governed by NICE guidelines and evidence-based practice. Consequently there is a relative dearth of research and focus on relational processes and interpersonal dynamics. A more holistic understanding of the nature of connection in the therapeutic relationship and how it is experienced from a perspective which is non-orientation/ modality specific seems to be missing and in need of further investigation. Retaining and developing subjective and intersubjective insight into dyadic therapeutic processes is something which urgently needs to be addressed if we want to continue to appreciate the meaning of the therapeutic relationship and its complexities. This study is a qualitative exploration of psychotherapeutic practitioners’ experiences of connection in the therapeutic relationship. An interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) framework was employed to interpret and capture individuals’ meaning-making, perceptions, thoughts and feelings around the phenomenon of connection. Nine practitioners (chartered counselling psychologists, registered psychotherapists and accredited counsellors), participated in face-to-face individual semi-structured interviews. Interviews were audio-recorded and analysed according to IPA. Analysis of interview transcripts identified three superordinate themes, each comprising of subthemes: (1) foundational connection -“Space to grow”, “Two human beings”, “Guard comes down”, (2) embodied connection -“Bodily felt stuff”, “Blending of energies” and (3) transcendent connection -“Whole spiritual thing”, “Stunning moments”. These findings are discussed in light of existing literature and research and provide insight into the intricacies of implicit relational processes. Limitations, further research suggestions and implications of the study are also considered.

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
[thumbnail of Vesey, Rosalind_Redacted_Final thesis version 28th Oct 2020 for library digitisation_Redacted.pdf]
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