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Title: Disruption and Reconstruction: Stories of Psychotherapists' Sense and Use of Self with Life-Threatening Illness
Contributor(s): James, Graeme stuart  (author); Luxford, Yoni  (supervisor)orcid ; Clark, Jane  (supervisor)
Conferred Date: 2018-04-14
Copyright Date: 2017-06
Thesis Restriction Date until: 2020-04-14
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Psychotherapy is a highly relational endeavour. The use of self is psychotherapists' primary therapeutic tool in their professional relationship with clients. Therapists' life experiences can influence their sense and use of self in therapeutic work. For some, this includes the experience of a life-threatening illness. The experience of life-threatening illness in psychotherapists and the effect this has on their work is not well understood. The limited literature about this topic tends to be concerned with clinical issues about practice and self-disclosure. What is known is primarily available through therapists' personal accounts of illness published in scholarly literature. This study aimed to investigate the type of stories psychotherapists have told about their sense and use of self in therapeutic work when they experience a lifethreatening illness.

Twenty-one therapists' personal accounts were examined using narrative analysis, and two core narrative themes were identified. The first, Narratives of Disruption, comprised three subthemes: therapists' Emotional Responses, Unconscious Denial and Physical and Psychosocial Losses. Core theme two, Narratives of Reconstruction, also contained three subthemes: therapists' Sense Making, Finding Benefits and Learning Life Lessons and Identity Change. Based on the limited literature about psychotherapists with life-threatening illness, the narrative analysis of these therapists' personal published accounts provides new insights into therapists' sense and use of self. The key findings of this study indicate that psychotherapists' stories reveal that their sense and use of self is disrupted by the diagnosis and treatment of their life-threatening illness. The study also shows that, given the passage of time, some therapists are able to reconstruct their sense and use of self as they learn to live with the consequences of their illness. These findings have practice implications for psychotherapists, psychotherapists' supervisors and the profession.

Publication Type: Thesis Masters Research
Fields of Research (FoR) 2008: 110319 Psychiatry (incl. Psychotherapy)
Fields of Research (FoR) 2020: 320221 Psychiatry (incl. psychotherapy)
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 920299 Health and Support Services not elsewhere classified
HERDC Category Description: T1 Thesis - Masters Degree by Research
Description: Please contact if you require access to this thesis for the purpose of research or study.
Appears in Collections:School of Health
Thesis Masters Research

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