The unfolding heart: What is the nature of courage in the therapeutic domain from the dual perspective of counsellors' personal therapy and their clinical practice? A qualitative study evaluated by Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
AuthorsHewitt, Susan E.
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AbstractWhilst the nature of courage has long been debated, it is only more recently that the psychology of courage has received attention. Although it is acknowledged that therapeutic courage informs counselling and psychotherapy, it is an underresearched and little understood phenomenon. This research sought to investigate the nature of therapeutic courage in a qualitative phenomenological study from the dual perspective of counsellors' personal therapy and their clinical practice. Semistructured interviews were conducted with four counsellors and psychotherapists and the study was evaluated using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Three master themes were established: 1) Courage as the nexus of therapy; 2) The synergy of courage in the therapeutic dynamic and 3) Protecting and enhancing the profession. Therapeutic courage was identified as a fundamental element informing all therapeutic endeavours and its nature was described as a mosaic of psychological, moral, creative and embodied courage for both client and therapist. Therapeutic courage was characterized as a conscious choice and action in the face of fear and as a catalyst to change, albeit with ambiguous qualities. The therapeutic process was shown to demand courage of client and therapist experienced intrapersonally and interpersonally within the therapeutic relationship, where the symbiosis of courage and safety was required for therapeutic growth. Therapist courage was shown to facilitate ethical practice and enable client courage. A range of client courage was identified through the client's tenacity in processing fear, choice, loss and reality. Multiple levels of therapeutic courage were shown to manifest in depth therapy, pivotal moments, client context, liminal thresholds and ethical practice. The findings emphasized the value of therapists' personal therapy in generating a cyclical relationship between experiencing therapeutic courage as a client and in developing an empathic, compassionate presence as a therapist. The findings also revealed potential gaps in contemporary counselling and psychotherapeutic training in relation to therapeutic courage, ethical decision-making and organizational context. The findings confer implications for clinical practice in understanding therapeutic courage through the micro-processes in therapy to the macro level of the professional at large. These findings support extant research, but also provide fresh interpretations and many opportunities for future research.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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