City Research Online

Vulnerability and uncertainty in the therapeutic work: Therapy through the lens of the therapist

Salkin, J. (2021). Vulnerability and uncertainty in the therapeutic work: Therapy through the lens of the therapist. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Despite changes in practice and a reported rise in new bereavement interventions during Covid-19, the topic of therapists’ experiences of providing new interventions during Covid-19 is under-researched. This qualitative study aims to explore counsellors’ experiences of providing a new, three-session long intervention provided to individuals sooner than usual after bereavement, during Covid-19. Two sets of individual interviews incorporating visual methods were carried out seven months apart with four counsellors. Accounts were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Accounts highlight experiences of uncertainty around procedures, roles and aims for this new intervention, particularly around the work’s brevity. Increased vulnerability, hopelessness and loneliness amongst therapists were also highlighted in the context of working from home, in isolation from colleagues, and with highly distressed clients. Changes in boundaries were discussed in the context of Covid-19 being a reality shared with clients, as the clinical work became a reminder of counsellors’ personal experiences around Covid-19 and vice versa. These challenges appear to have been countered by the experience of meaningfulness and excitement towards providing an intervention aimed at helping others impacted by Covid-19. Self-care and connection to counsellors providing this new intervention were also associated with safety and containment. These findings can inform Counselling Psychologists in their roles as practitioners, managers, consultants, trainers and supervisors of the potential challenges and support needs when providing new or unfamiliar interventions. Counselling Psychology strives for continuous development, and as such it would be expected that new interventions will be developed, and that Counselling Psychologists will be learning new therapeutic approaches, as part of their training or professional development. By gaining awareness of therapists’ experiences of delivering new interventions, these findings can inform Counselling Psychologists in supporting themselves and/or others when providing new or unfamiliar interventions, particularly in the context of shared traumatic realities such as pandemics, natural disasters, or war.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Salkin_Thesis_2022-Redacted_.pdf]
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