Layering lenses: an exploration of integration in counselling psychology

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Hughes, Genevieve M.
  • Subject: BF

Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities are encouraged to engage with psychological services and psychodynamic approaches are recommended to meet their diverse needs. Although external aspects have been explored, there is a gap in the literature regarding internal processes of BME clients in this type of therapy. This thesis aimed to fill this gap by using a multi-level, pluralistic qualitative design to explore the internal processes of three BME participants in psychodynamic therapy; ultimately investigating shared and/or unique elements. Three semi-structured interviews were analysed using three analytic strategies: descriptive phenomenological, discursive and psychodynamic readings. The main themes from the phenomenological reading were the importance of the therapeutic relationship, ‘strong persona’ defences, the past and the present: personal and family history, ‘aha’ moments, fear and vulnerability, and differences to the therapist: not feeling fully understood. The common discursive themes were maintaining control, externalizing difficult aspects of therapy, fragmenting parts of themselves, and struggling to vocalise differences in ethnicity, leading to frustration and compartmentalization. The main findings of the psychodynamic reading were recreating the original culturally infused injury, cultural differences in the transference, feeling different/same, multiple identities and a further exploration of defences. The findings suggested that both the client’s and the therapist’s ethnicity, culture and race impacted the clients’ internal processes in psychodynamic therapy. The practical implications are to enhance therapeutic work with BME clients by increasing the applicability and usefulness of psychodynamic therapy with this specific ethnic minority group. This thesis’ emphasis on individual perspective, reflexivity, intersubjectivity and diversity are in-line with Counselling Psychology principles. Recommended future research could focus on BME participants in a specific and structured model of psychodynamic therapy and perhaps use data collection methods that go beyond semi-structured interviews.
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