Learning Psychotherapy: Highly Charged Becoming Through the Other
Lawless, Diane Marie
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The purpose of this study was to identify and investigate the domains and processes that novice supervisees identified as being important for learning psychotherapy during their first psychotherapy practicum. The study also sought to examine how these domains developed over the course of the practicum. A series of 4 in-depth interviews were conducted with 5 volunteer novice psychotherapy supervisees while undertaking their first psychotherapy practicum. The interviews alternated between a) open-ended Narrative Interviews, and b) open-ended Interpersonal Process Recall Interviews based on audiotaped recordings of a recent psychotherapy session. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using the grounded theory method. The emerging hierarchical and process category structure derived from the analysis represented the understanding that was derived from the analysis. The core category was interpreted as Highly charged becoming through the other. This category represented how supervisees meaning networks and the modes of processing that they engaged in were grounded in, and emerged through reciprocal interactions with the client and supervisor. The second level categories, Original Paradigm, Relationally-based Experiential Learning and Original Paradigm Revised, depicted the steps involved in the learning process. Supervisees entered the practicum with an idiosyncratic and pre-established Original Paradigm or world view that included a theory of practice. Ongoing and reciprocal interactions with the supervisor and client, through Exposure, Exercising Agency, Reflexivity and Relationship, shaped its evolution. Explicit features of the Original Paradigm were clarified while implicit aspects emerged. Through interactions with the supervisor and client, the Original Paradigm was bolstered and refined. It was also expanded. Supervisees acquired a growing appreciation of the clients agency, developed an understanding of psychotherapy as a unique form of discourse, and worked at integrating the personal and professional self. The implications of viewing learning psychotherapy as a form of experiential learning dependent on interpersonal interactions with the supervisor and client are outlined, in addition to directions for future research in this area.