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Title: An exploration into the meaning of spirituality and spiritual experience for counselling psychologists, and implications for their practice
Author: Mueller, Joy
Awarding Body: University of Roehampton
Current Institution: University of Roehampton
Date of Award: 2013
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The purpose of this study was to examine the meaning of spirituality and spiritual experience to counselling psychologists, in order to address the lack of research into the psychologist’s spiritual belief systems. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to explore what six experienced counselling psychologists understood by spirituality and spiritual experience. The research also investigated what impact, if any, these experiences might have on their professional and clinical practices. Four super-ordinate themes were determined after analysing the interviews, based on material gained from the semistructured interviews. These were: Development of spiritual identity; Spiritual beliefs within personal life contexts vs spiritual beliefs and professional practice; Understanding, learning and uses of spiritual experience; and finally, Disclosure within a professional capacity. The participants placed great importance on their spiritual beliefs, which formed a fundamental part of their identity, informed their personal and professional value system, and guided them in some decisions made in sustaining difficult situations when working with substantial client suffering. This study concluded spirituality to be a deeply personal construct shaped and guided by the individual which is drawn upon in all aspects of life. Results revealed that participants are conscious of the value of spirituality and religious beliefs for their clients. Importantly, the all of the counselling psychologists have what they consider to be subtle or profound spiritual experiences within their lives and with two of the participants, in their therapeutic encounters. Furthermore, in the often absent professional exploration in their training institutions and most work contexts, including supervision they draw on their personal experiences when spiritual issues arise in their work with clients. Implications for training and future research in this under-examined field are briefly discussed.
Supervisor: Salm, Anne Marie ; House, Richard Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Psych.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Spirituality ; Psychotherapy ; counselling psychology