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Title: A phenomenological investigation into the experiences of practicing counselling psychology and psychotherapy out doors
Author: Surgenor, Hazel
Awarding Body: University of Wales
Current Institution: Regent's University London
Date of Award: 2013
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This study explores the significance for practitioners of taking their therapeutic work outside of the traditional therapy room, typically into nature spaces, parks or gardens. Attention is paid to the notion of the therapeutic frame and relevant ecopsychology theory. While there is substantial literature around ecotherapy and the benefits of nature to wellbeing, there is relatively little concerning working as a psychotherapist outdoors. The purpose of this research therefore was to address the question of what it is like to take a therapeutic practice out of doors and the potential challenges. Eight semi-structured interviews were conducted with practitioners with experience of working out of doors with clients. Following van Manen’s (1990) hermeneutic phenomenology research methodology, five themes were found: boundaries and new frontiers, fitting in, what ‘they’ think, and who is it for (parts I and II). The research aim, to grasp the meaning of this unconventional practice from the practitioners’ perspective, was mirrored in the analysis which revealed that meaning for the participants is complex and concerns for the client as well as personal concerns were seen as fundamental to the experience. Relationships to and the presence of nature in the work were also recognised as significant and identified a tension around the unquantifiable experience of the ‘soulfulness’ of nature in the work versus the measurable elements of nature that have therapeutic benefit. The scarcity of practitioners working outdoors was attributed to a lack of indoor therapists’ understanding of the processes involved which was seen to impact upon participants’ experiences in their work outdoors. The emergent themes in this research emphasise for counselling psychology an on-going need to review therapeutic dogma, encompass the wider world in the context of therapeutic practice and expand current notions of mental health and psychopathology to engender greater pluralism in theory and practice.
Supervisor: Daly, Antony Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Counselling ; Nature--Effect of Human Beings on ; Psychology ; Psychotherapy ; Counseling