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Title: An exploration of therapists' experiences of responding to expressed suicidal ideation in their therapeutic work with older adult clients
Author: Pillinger, Emma
ISNI:       0000 0004 2699 1770
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2007
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Increasingly over the last two decades, risk has become the basis around which the delivery of mental heath services has been organised. Recent government initiatives target psychologists to play an important role in the proposed reduction in the rate of suicide, making 'suicide prevention' a particularly relevant issue for those psychologists working therapeutically with clients who disclose suicidal ideation. Existing research literature has demonstrated that the therapeutic relationship is a primary factor in effective approaches to therapy with clients who feel suicidal. However, expressed suicidal ideation during the course of therapy has been found to make therapists' actions defensive, focused solely on risk assessment rather than therapeutic change. Being over the age of 65 is one of the biggest risk factors for suicide across many cultures and societies. Current government initiatives place a significant emphasis upon securing better mental health for older adults, and the psychologist's role in the implementation of this. Despite recommendations to carry out research in order to achieve these goals, there is still a dearth of research literature in the area of older adult suicide. The present study aims to address this imbalance by exploring therapists' experiences of carrying out an assessment of suicide risk within a therapeutic relationship, with older adult clients. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with clinical and counselling psychologists and the data was analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Four superordinate themes were generated relating to the process of the therapeutic relationship, being a therapist, making sense, and noticing the narrative. Findings indicate that the interaction and alliance of therapist and client factors within the therapeutic relationship can be protective against suicide, rather than standardised risk assessment per se. Implications and recommendations for further research and clinical practice are discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available