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Title: A constructivist grounded theory of counselling psychologists' in-the-moment decision-making process about touching their clients
Author: Damon, Helen
ISNI:       0000 0004 7971 9455
Awarding Body: Open University
Current Institution: Regent's University London
Date of Award: 2018
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In this thesis, I develop a constructivist grounded theory of the process by which counselling psychologists (CoPs) make decisions about touching their clients. Clinician-client touch is widespread, yet controversial - because it may be experienced as harmful or beneficial. However, practitioners across disciplines report little-to-no training, and their accrediting bodies offer no explicit guidance, on touch in clinical practice. Consequently, they lack confidence and competence in this area, and are fearful of, and vulnerable to, accusations of bad practice. Despite the clinical criticality of CoPs' touch-decision-making, there is no existing research on it. Therefore, I recruited nine CoPs and, as a form of negative case analysis, a clinical psychologist and two clinicians who work with the body, and interviewed them about their touch-decision-making. My resultant theory constitutes a dual process model of decision-making centring on the core category "weighing the predicted balance of appropriateness", whereby clinicians use an embodied sense of "felt appropriateness" and a cognitive process of "considering the appropriateness" to assess the extent to which they anticipate a given "touch-related action" will be experienced as minimising harm and maximising therapeutic benefit. My overarching aim was to facilitate best practice in CoPs' touch-decision-making by evaluating, thence recommending changes to, relevant existing models, guidelines, and training. My recommendations centre on the development of a "CoP stance" towards touch and decision-making about touch - henceforth, "touch(-decision-making)" - and promoting talking about touch. Indications for future research include furthering the saturation and scope of my theory in relation to the impact of "gender-and-sexuality" on CoPs' touch-decision-making, because my theory indicates they may use touch differentially in response to socially-derived gender- and sexuality-based norms and assumptions.
Supervisor: Lodge, Rosemary Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available