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Therapists’ Experience of the Therapeutic Encounter

Dobrolioubova, V. (2011). Therapists’ Experience of the Therapeutic Encounter. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


Part A - Therapists' Experience of Working in Their Second Language: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
The current project employed semi-structured interviews with 9 coordinate and 2 compound bilingual therapists working in their second language with monolingual adult clients. The study focused on three interrelated areas of the therapists’ experience: language, experience of self, and emotional context. A coordinate bilingual is a person who learned his/her languages in separate environments and associates them with different contexts; he/she is believed to have different conceptual systems for the two languages. A compound bilingual is an individual who learned both languages in the same context and developed a single, fused conceptual system. A single concept in the mind of a compound bilingual has one mental representation, but two different verbal labels attached to it (Ervin & Osgood, 1954; Salluzzo, 1994). The interpretative phenomenological analysis highlighted, firstly, that therapists may experience some language-related challenges at the beginning of their career, but become more competent and confident with practice. Secondly, that these issues are successfully addressed by means of therapeutic techniques such as clarification, further exploration and self-disclosure. Furthermore, the findings suggest that therapists’ experiences of both self and the emotional context of the session are to a certain degree influenced by the use of their second language. Finally, research suggests factors within cross-lingual communication that can facilitate as well as hinder the development of the therapeutic alliance. The former type includes the following: collaboration, trust, empathy, attentiveness, a sense of equality, acceptance of differences, and accentuation of similarities. The latter include limited shared experience and language-related difficulties. The opportunities of bilingualism for the therapeutic experience are also outlined, along with the implications of the study for training and practice, and recommendations for future research.

Part B - The Experience of Burnout in Psychologists.
The critical literature review explored factors associated with burnout in psychologists, the frequency and nature of the phenomenon. The high rate of 3 burnout in health professionals, its implications, and the paucity of studies available all suggest that further research is needed to gain a better understanding of the phenomenon and its correlates as experienced by UK psychologists, whether native or non-native speakers. The final section examines implications for training and

Part C - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Anxiety Disorders: Reflecting on the Client’s and Therapist’s Growth.
The case study explores the experience of a counselling psychologist working in her second language with a monolingual client experiencing symptoms of anxiety and panic. It indicates that language-related challenges, along with a psychologist’s thoughts, assumptions and beliefs, may influence the effectiveness of his/her interventions and the therapeutic alliance itself, as well as affecting the psychologist’s evaluation of his/her performance. The case study thus stresses the need to engage in continuous self-reflection in order to develop one’s self-awareness and build self-knowledge.

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