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Title: The narratives which connect… - a qualitative research approach to the narratives which connect therapists' personal and private lives to their family therapy practices
Author: Jensen, Per
ISNI:       0000 0004 2699 3901
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2008
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The major aim of this qualitative research project is to explore the possibility of some meaningful and important connections between Norwegian family therapists' personal and private lives and how their clinical practice may be created and constructed. The narratives that connect personal and private life to family therapy practice have long been overlooked or given minimal attention in family therapy education in Norway. It is suggested here that it is probably in the understanding of the rise of evidence-basedp ractice and the scientist practitioner model and their position in the field of psychotherapy that we can best understand why the link between the therapist's personal and professional life is not very central in psychotherapy and in family therapy education and why so little research has been done in this area. The following research questions are addressed: How can we understand why so little research has been done on the connections between the psychotherapist's own personal and private life and her/his clinical practice? How does the therapist's own life history and personal and private experiences influence the way he/she understands and practises systemic family therapy? What are the influences of being a systemic family therapist on the therapist's own life and how she/he thinks about the way she/he lives it? The research design used a case study series with seven participating family therapists, within a grounded theory methodology. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews, and the first four participants provided a video tape of a first family therapy session for thematic analysis. The grounded theory method of constant comparison allowed the initial analysis of the first interview to be compared with the thematic analysis of the family therapy interview, which was then compared with the analysis of the second research interview for the same participant. This method was used with the first four participants. The grounded theory method of theoretical sampling was used to select for variation amongst the research participants. The final three participants were interviewed once each to illustrate paradigm cases from the analyses of the first four participants. In the discussion of the key findings, the research shows that both the practice of family therapy and the therapist's personal life may be mutually influential. Family therapy education in Norway is challenged by these findings of how personal and private influences may affect clinical practice. I suggest here that it is time to make personal and professional development programmes compulsory in Norwegian family therapy training. The grounded theory methodology led to the development of a middle range theory, "The map of resonance"; where I use the concept of `resonance' to understand both the relationship between the therapist's personal ideas and professional practice and between the therapist and the client. In this middle range theory, I develop some ideas about pitfalls for therapists, trainers and supervisors and suggest how supervision and personal-professional development work at pre- and post-qualification level can help ensure professional development both in education and in general therapeutic practice. This research project may also be seen as an invitation to rethink how family therapy practice can be understood. The project shows that personal and private experiences sometimes form the main framework for understanding sequences of family therapy practice. These ethical considerations, among others, point to the need for ethical guidelines for family therapy practice in Norway. Areas for further research in the field of patterns that connect family therapists' personal and private lives to their clinical practice are suggested.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available