The effects of transitions on the therapeutic practice of psychologists

  • Jeremy Rowe

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Transitions are an inevitable part of the human experience. This inquiry aimed to investigate how psychologists experienced some personal transitions in relation to their clinical work. The two examples of transitions investigated were a personal bereavement and the decision to live without a Christian faith. There were two purposive samples of psychologists in this inquiry, one for each transition. This phenomenological study used an adapted version of Moustakas‟s heuristic inquiry which emphasised co-construction. This inquiry found that transitions affected the author‟s and participants‟ therapeutic practice in each study in idiosyncratic ways. Some effects were changes in personal philosophy, increased empathy and an increased ability to work therapeutically with clients experiencing transitions. Some of the implications of these affects were on the therapists‟ use of personal experiences in clinical work, fitness to practise and the development of empathy. Conducting this inquiry led to the researcher‟s personal and professional development, comparable to personal therapy. Examples of the researcher‟s personal development were increased self-reflection and ability to cope with vulnerability. Examples of the researcher‟s professional development were an increased understanding of transition theory and its application in clinical work, and a greater focus on facilitating clients to identify specific resources and coping mechanisms during transition. The implications of the findings of this inquiry for Counselling Psychology were on the importance of therapists‟ self-care and its promotion within applied psychology, the role of reflexive research methods in psychology training and the content of clinical supervision. Specific areas of further research were highlighted including targeted aspects of self-care, the personal effects of leaving religious sects and the relevance of research in the personal development requirement of training. Limitations of the studies were critiqued with reference to phenomenology and phenomenological methods and the use of an adapted version of heuristic inquiry.
Date of Award2010
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SupervisorPeter Martin (Supervisor) & Dennis Greenwood (Supervisor)

Cite this