THE PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCES OF COUNSELLORS AND PSYCHOTHERAPISTS WHO EMPLOY THE PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES OF COMPASSION FOCUSED THERAPY: AN INTERPRETATIVE PHENOMENOLOGICAL ANALYSIS
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AbstractThis research examined the personal and professional experiences of counsellors and psychotherapists who employ the principles and practices of Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT). The research was developed due to anecdotal accounts from counsellors and psychotherapists (and personal experience) that suggested that working with CFT significantly influenced their personal and professional lives. This research focused on a holistic understanding, examining how therapists made sense of CFT in their personal and professional life. The holistic focus is based on systemic theories. However, in this case, rather than looking at systems from a family therapy perspective, the focus here is on what happens in the therapy room is an interweaving of both the client/patient and therapists' experiences, including physiological, cognitive, emotional, organisational, and socio-political influences. Current research in counselling and psychotherapy is focused on patient/client outcomes; it is argued that understanding therapists is just as important as understanding the clients/patients since therapists are a significant part of the therapeutic intervention. Since CFT is a relatively recent psychotherapeutic intervention, the aim is for the research into therapists can develop at the same time as research into clients/patients. The research used Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). The sample was 10 counsellors/psychotherapists who use the principles and practice of CFT in their personal and professional lives. The method of data collection was the diary/interview method. Thematic analysis was also used to analyse specific questions at the end of the diary and interview. Seven themes were discussed: Experience of using the principles and practices of CFT in professional life; Using CFT to engage with disempowerment, injustice, and abuse; blocks to compassion in clinical work; CBT CFT and other approaches; Experience of using the principles and practices of CFT in personal life; personal blocks to compassion and the importance of time as a block or support to compassion. This research found that psychotherapists' personal and professional experiences are complex and multi-dimensional. They include complex interactions and awareness that are internal to the therapist involving physiological, cognitive, and emotional responses that are ever-changing in response to environmental factors. Experiences also involve external interactions with patients/clients, supervisors, colleagues, other professionals, and the socio-political influences that shape personal and professional life. This research identifies several implications for practice, policy, education, and research. Time was a significant theme. The importance of sufficient time to reflect on practice, personal and professional development impacts the quality of service development and delivery. The importance of developing organisational and practice cultures of equity diversity and inclusion to facilitate the development of compassion was another significant implication. Concerning therapists’ education, explicit focus on the debates around integration and writing to enhance reflective practice. The implications for future research reflect the need to move away from methodological tribalism.
CitationWood, W. (2021) The Personal and Professional Experiences of Counsellors and Psychotherapists Who Employ the Principles and Practices of Compassion Focused Therapy. An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Unpublished PhD Thesis. University of Derby.
PublisherUniversity of Derby
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionThis thesis was funded via a Graduate Teaching Assistant role with the College of Health and Social Care. This facilaited research within the college in on the theme of compassion.
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