Being opened: a hermeneutic phenomenological enquiry into the existential psychotherapist’s lived experience of wonder

Seth, Paula (2017) Being opened: a hermeneutic phenomenological enquiry into the existential psychotherapist’s lived experience of wonder. Other thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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This research is the first to explore the lived experience of psychotherapist wonder. The primary aim was to provide a rich, evocative description of wonder together with an understanding of its meaning and the conditions for its emergence as a phenomenon in a clinical context. Eight existential, phenomenologically orientated psychotherapists and counselling psychologists participated in the study.

To generate sufficiently rich lived experience descriptions the methodological approach of Max van Manen’s (2014) Hermeneutic Phenomenology of Practice was used. Two methods of data collection were applied with each participant: a written description of a concrete experience of clinical and an unstructured phenomenological interview. Max Van Manen’s thematic approach was the main method of analysing the emergent data. During this analysis, Corinne Glesne’s method of Poetic Transcription was also used in response to the emerging poetic quality of the participants’ experiences.

Three interconnected overarching themes were identified. The first theme highlights the experience of wonder as a state of openness in which the therapist dwells in unknowing. The second theme details the embodied, deeply relational dimension of wonder: of therapist opening to and being opened into an experience of full presence with their client. The third theme focuses on how wonder is a profoundly renewing experience: a birthing place for new knowledge and therapeutic discovery.

Discussion of these findings suggests their therapeutic and theoretical implications, extending existing literature on practices of wonder. The relevance of Hannah Arendt’s natal ontology is made to the emergent themes of this study, widening the attention of existential psychotherapy beyond the thoroughly theorized topic of anxiety in the fear of death to describe the awakening and hopeful possibilities of wonder-attuned practice. This study provides compelling descriptions of the ethical dimensions of wonder which generate deep mutual connection within the therapeutic relationship resonant of Martin Buber’s I-Thou relating, Emmanuel Levinas’s Alterity of the Other and Luce Irigaray’s Maternal Philosophy of Breath.

Item Type: Thesis (Other)
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology
A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology
B. > Theses
C. Collaborative Partners > New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling (NSPC)
Item ID: 22613
Depositing User: Jennifer Basford
Date Deposited: 06 Oct 2017 09:27
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 20:34

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