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Title: Wound meets wound in the counselling room
Author: Bond, Patricia
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2018
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In this exploratory study I ask, 'what impact might a personal history of developmental trauma have on a counsellor’s experience of, and work with, traumatised clients?' The principal aim of the study is to add to the knowledge already available in a way which can assist practice, especially in generic services where trauma is often an underlying, and sometimes unrecognised, issue. The study makes three claims concerning: the importance of recognising diversity of trauma experience; client-informed flexibility in trauma counselling practice; and the advantage of a research strategy which includes elements of bricolage. Such knowledge is presented with a view to informing strategic decision-making, both in the counselling room and in training. To contextualise the study, I begin with a literature review on two underlying phenomenological questions - trauma and the therapeutic relationship - and on the concept of the wounded healer. Epistemological and ontological reflection on these questions leads to a methodology which I call practical (phronetic) interpretive phenomenology. Data is from semi-structured interviews with six counsellor participants who self-identified as having experienced developmental trauma. I present this data as brief ‘ghost-written’ stories followed by reconstructions of the transcripts in the form of imaginary post-interview conversations. I also include an autobiographical reflection in order to make my position in relation to the participants’ data transparent. Analysis of the participants’ stories and reflections reveals them as idiosyncratic, emerging from quite different life experiences. Similarly the ways in which their trauma has impacted on their practice is varied. The methodology focuses on experience-near ‘thick’ description, reflection, and phenomenological analysis, and aims to privilege narrative context over study of selected variables. The findings indicate that a relational approach based on the client’s experiences, and informed by the counsellor’s own reflexivity, can connect with clients in deeper ways than some more detached models of trauma therapy. The implications for counsellor development and practice are discussed, and include encouragement for ongoing processing of earlier trauma by counsellors, self-care, attention to countertransference reactions and to risks of vicarious trauma, and high quality supervision. Appropriate specialist training and continual learning from their own, their clients’ and colleagues’ experience are also recommended. The data suggest that these 'wounded healers' can have insights which may be of benefit to other trauma counsellors and their clients.
Supervisor: Wyatt, Jonathan ; Quayle, Ethel Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Counselling