“The sole purpose is for two people to come together and be”. A thematic analysis of the impact of therapist attachment on intersubjectivity when working with clients with complex trauma
AffiliationFaculty of Education, Health and Wellbeing
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractThe current study aimed to explore the significance of therapists’ attachment strategies on the intersubjective nature of the therapeutic relationship. Specifically, how important it is for therapists to have attachment security. Twelve therapists working with individuals with complex trauma were interviewed and ‘Codebook’ Thematic Analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2020) was used to generate the following themes: Developing the therapeutic relationship; Impact of therapist attachment; Therapist motivation; Overcoming barriers. Key findings identified a distinction between the therapeutic alliance and a secure attachment. This was based on the relationship’s capacity to tolerate rupture which was impacted upon by the participant’s own attachment. The study also found that therapists’ own attachment strategies affect empathy towards clients, with the underlying process being related to identification, but where over-identification is unhelpful. Further, the study identified the way that therapists responded to client anger was related to their attachment strategies. Whilst avoidant / dismissive therapists were better able to contain client anger, this had the potential to impact upon attunement. Findings challenged the widely accepted view of the necessity for therapists to have a secure attachment, rather warmth and proximity elicited negative responses from some clients. An unexpected finding was therapists’ motivation which identified specifically the therapeutic relationship as meeting the attachment needs of the therapists. Findings reinforce the premises of counselling psychology for reflective functioning and recommend that therapists acknowledge their own attachment strategies and wounds. A better understanding into these processes may enhance the therapeutic relationship and improve treatment outcome.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA research portfolio submitted in part fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the award of Practitioner Doctorate in Counselling Psychology.
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