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Title: The therapist's experience in a 'foreign country' : a qualitative inquiry into the effect of mobility for counsellors and psychotherapists
Author: Christodoulidi, Fevronia
ISNI:       0000 0004 2697 9448
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2010
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Professionals living and working in a foreign country are a widespread phenomenon today. This research into the therapist’s experience in a foreign country and culture, investigates complex and subtle intra-psychic and inter-personal processes at a personal and a professional level. The qualitative inquiry was primarily heuristic, drawing on the researcher’s experience as a therapist living and practising in her host UK culture. It was informed by the accounts of 23 foreign practitioners in different countries, some of whom have returned to their country of origin, after some years of practising abroad. Heuristic analysis emphasising the researcher’s reflexivity was employed in the meaning-making process of the ‘data’ that included the researcher’s reflexive journal, interview transcripts and expressive material that emerged during the research process. The role of the researcher’s resistance resulting from a highly personal involvement with the topic as well as the opportunities for advanced insight, resilience and transformation is discussed. This research highlights that the lived experience of foreign therapists, in all its complexity and richness, often remains invisible and/or unaddressed in educational, professional and research circles and settings. Themes that appeared as significant in this experience include: the challenging and enriching effect of undertaking therapy training in a different country; the impact upon the therapeutic relationship dynamics in practice; the role of the therapist’s use of a second language during training and therapeutic practice and the links to the relationship with the mother tongue; the fantasies or actual processes occurring upon repatriation, where relevant; the therapist’s perception of their cultural identity as affected by this experience; issues related to support systems and supervision; and emerging insights in relation to the ‘culture’ of therapy in the context of the broader global culture. All were underpinned by the potential contrast of cultural norms and sense of home and belonging resulting from a possible contrast of values and mannerism when a practitioner lives and works abroad. The study appears to support the idea that the impact of mobility upon a therapist’s life and work presents a number of losses and discomforts but also offers opportunities for growth; such a therapist appears to become a liminal and resilient figure with several qualities, resulting from the experience, that go beyond cross-cultural practice. The implications of the research in terms of counselling and psychotherapy training, supervision and practice are discussed. Identified limitations and suggestions for further research are noted. Some of the insights appear to have relevance to the experiences of other professionals that choose to move and work abroad.
Supervisor: West, William Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available