An exploration of therapists' experiences of working with terminal cancer patients

Osgood, Janice Deakin (2019) An exploration of therapists' experiences of working with terminal cancer patients. DCPsych thesis, Middlesex University / Metanoia Institute. [Thesis]

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Despite the need for practitioners to work psychotherapeutically with terminal cancer patients there are limited context-specific resources available for training or for understanding therapists’ experiences. Therefore, the present study presents an indepth qualitative investigation into therapists’ experiences of working in this space. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six qualified, experienced therapists (range 7 to 26 years’ experience). All interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Three interrelated master themes emerged: ‘working in a liminal space’; ‘pathways to the present’; and ‘being with’. Seven subordinate themes clustered under these master themes. ‘Working in a liminal space’ had three subordinate themes: ‘two worlds’, ‘navigating the boundaries’ and ‘balance’. ‘Pathways to the present’ had two subordinate themes: ‘coincidence or serendipity’ and ‘time and perspective’. ‘Being with’ had two subordinate themes: ‘person-to-person’ and ‘wordless presence’. These themes provided insight into how therapists make sense of their work in relation to navigating boundaries between their professional and personal worlds, and balancing tensions involved in the complex emotional landscape of end of life work. The therapists felt that working with people at this stage of life was an honour and privilege that allowed them to express their authentic humanity. The genuine experience of relationship was centred in the here-and-now contact between therapist and client. Participants communicated their concerns about lack of support in their work context, which was analysed under the theme of ‘balance’, and highlighted the need for more reflective space and time to recuperate. Notably, participants valued the research interview itself as a way of reflecting on their experiences. The study recommends more qualitative research into therapists’ experiences of this work; in particular, participatory action research groups would involve the practitioners in all aspects of the research process and provide a way to ascertain how support could be designed that would work for participants within the context of limited resources.

Item Type: Thesis (DCPsych)
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology
B. > Theses
C. Collaborative Partners > Metanoia Institute
Item ID: 26853
Depositing User: Brigitte Joerg
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2019 10:36
Last Modified: 24 May 2023 11:48

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