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AbstractTrauma therapists increasingly use EMDR when working with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and trauma clients as it is recommended by NICE guidelines (2005) however until recently research focused on the negative impact of trauma work. Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) appears to be the most commonly used term for ‘growth’ however attempts to define and measure it can be criticised for being reductionist in approach as it reduced five factors into three outcomes based on the client’s growth. Research on trauma therapists’ growth has relied on client definitions that is; Vicarious PTG is based on PTG although there are a couple of studies which collaborate these findings. This study aims to address the literature and practitioner gap by exploring EMDR therapists’ lived experiences of ‘vicarious growth’ when working with PTSD symptom clients. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect data from a homogeneous sample of six EMDR therapists who stated that they had positive experiences or experienced growth (positive change) when working with PTSD symptom clients. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to analyse the data. Rich, detailed findings in terms of how ‘growth’ is experienced emerged as four super-ordinate themes: A: Initial struggles; B: Experiences of the “healing journey”; C: Growth through connecting and D: Impact of growth on ‘self’. Implications of experiences of the therapeutic relationship as a “healing journey” for therapists were discussed in terms of a potential power imbalance where they might be viewed as ‘experts’. However, a better understanding of how therapists experience ‘vicarious growth’ with their clients enables them to utilise this knowledge to develop their own growth and self-awareness therefore supervision and training to encourage self-awareness was also discussed. These Positive Psychology (growth) findings such as self-belief in skills; use of ‘special set’ of clients; self-image as 3 ‘guide’ and the spread of growth to areas outside of therapy can be utilised to add Positive Psychology (growth) into existing supervision and training (EMDR and trauma) thereby enhancing existing models or creating new ones. Therapists growth and well-being may lead to lower occupational risk than was previously thought working amongst trauma clients and perhaps greater job satisfaction. KEYWORDS: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Posttraumatic Growth (PTG), Vicarious Posttraumatic Growth (VPTG), Vicarious Growth (VG), Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA); EMDR therapists; Positive Psychology.
DescriptionA thesis submitted