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Title: What are the unique clinical experiences of bilingual couple psychotherapists whose mothertongue is not English but who work in their mothertongue in an English-speaking professional environment?
Author: Tsatsas, N.
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2019
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This phenomenological qualitative study arises from the context of the contemporary globalised field of couple psychotherapy and highlights unique clinical phenomena in an under-researched area. The aim is to identify the ways in which bilingual couple psychotherapists who have been trained and work in English professional environments, make sense of their clinical experiences when they use their mothertongue to conduct couple psychotherapy. Some literature addressing the issue of working in the mothertongue exists regarding individual psychotherapy. However, in the field of couple psychotherapy, attention has not been paid to the clinical implications resulting from the use of a language in which the practitioners have not been professionally trained. In accordance with the exploratory nature of this study, semi-structured interviews were specifically designed and conducted with nine English-trained bilingual couple psychotherapists. The emergent data was analysed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis. The analysis identified four major themes: ‘Dualness’; ‘Embracing English Speaking Identities’; ‘Clinical Advantages of working in the mothertongue’ and ‘Clinical Challenges of working in the mothertongue’. Unconscious elements of the bilingual participants’ subjective processes connected to each language are identified, lending themselves to the creation of a symbolic space. This space is understood through the development of the concept of ‘Internal Linguistic Liminality’. This concept illuminates key clinical issues relating to the bilingual participants’ unique internal emotive associations to the experience of the sound of their mothertongue and their impact on the therapeutic process. The ways that the use of the mothertongue influences moments of connection or disconnection between the participants and their same-mothertongue patients are explored. Innovative findings from this small scale study, generate clinical questions for the research field. It alerts the couple psychotherapy community of the need for appropriate training, supervisory and policy provision.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral