The effect of personal life-events on the practice of therapists
The research asks: "What is the effect of personal life events on the practice
of therapists?" The question is under-researched and concerns an issue that
is professionally important in a growing profession.
The research methodology is qualitative employing heuristic inquiry. A major
theme of the dissertation is a critique of, and an updating and refinement
Moustakas's 1990 methodology. A more post-modernist approach is
sustained by privileging narrative. The "bricoleur" approach adopted here
emphasises relationality and process as opposed to a search for "essence"
as espoused by Moustakas.
The research sample was purposive. The author wrote his own account, and
sixteen participants (co-researchers) were recruited by advertisement, in an
article in a journal, and at workshops on the theme. Therapists were
interviewed twice face to face for informal, extended and tape-recorded,
Analysis of the data was a systematic co-construction following Reason and
Rowan, and Josselson. One of the distinctive features of the research is retelling
the participants' stories in different formats (individual depictions and
exemplary portraits) in order to produce a many-layered response to their
data. The goal in each "re-storying" was to reach intersubjective awareness
and agreement in a moment in time. The final part of the thesis is written in
an authorial voice and functions to make sense of the data for clinical as well
as academic readerships.
Outcomes of this research emanate from the weakening of the distinction
between subject and object, which is congruent with its refined heuristic
methodology. The author and the participants experienced important
changes as a result of their own processing of their life event. Such
movements were in personal philosophy, and in the capacity to relate to
client's' dilemmas and individual pain This thesis makes a case for the
"examined life" as a chief component of continuing professional development
and of clinical supervision