An exploration of intra-cultural competence in Christian counselling: an action research study

Penny, Janet Elizabeth (2015) An exploration of intra-cultural competence in Christian counselling: an action research study. DPsych thesis, Middlesex University / Metanoia Institute. [Thesis]

[img] PDF - Final accepted version (with author's formatting)
Restricted to Repository staff and depositor only until 7 October 2023.

Download (2MB) |


Whilst there is a growing body of literature on working with issues of difference in psychotherapy, there is very little literature and almost no empirical research on the implications of ‘sameness’ in the therapeutic dyad. This research continues the conversation on how contextual issues may impact therapy, but does so from the ‘inside’, with the aim of developing intra-cultural competence. Intra-cultural competence is defined as the ability to work ethically and reflexively in a therapeutic dyad in which the therapist and client share culture, values, lifestyle, worldview or identity in significant ways, by holding a paradoxical stance of affirmation, acceptance and curiosity with respect to those aspects of shared experience. The focus of this research was on developing Christian counselling, where the client and therapist explicitly share faith, and this is the story of that exploration in the context of my work as a lecturer in Christian counselling at London School of Theology (LST).
Using the insider action research paradigm, some of the relational dynamics and ethical implications of clients and therapists sharing faith in Christian counselling were explored, initially by interviewing the teaching team at LST about their experiences of clinical work with Christian clients. Based on the analysis of the focus group interview, the team then decided to further explore the concepts of power and liminality in Christian counselling. A number of activities were carried out as a result, including a workshop on power dynamics in Christian counselling, followed by the incorporation of this material into the undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
The insider action research approach offers some interesting parallels to intra-cultural work with its similar challenges of reflexivity, belonging and distance. Both the researcher and the therapist in intra-cultural therapy find him or herself in a position of ‘in’ and ‘out’ with respect to their own group to which they belong, and it is argued that the emotional toll of this needs careful consideration at times.
As well as the power dynamics associated with difference, it is argued that there is the kinship power of belonging and sameness that deserves equal attention in the therapeutic process. On the one hand, this may facilitate an initial openness and trust in the therapeutic relationship, but may also be associated with unexamined assumptions, expectations and collusion. Though, at first, less obvious to the eye, being part of the same tribe as our clients raises challenges but also interesting and creative opportunities. This research has begun to articulate and discuss some of these, and considers the implications for other dyads in which there is meaningful sameness, such as Islamic counselling.

Item Type: Thesis (DPsych)
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology
B. > Theses
C. Collaborative Partners > Metanoia Institute
Item ID: 18462
Depositing User: Users 3197 not found.
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2015 16:34
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 22:26

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview
6 month trend
6 month trend

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.