Sensation in psychotherapy through the lens of sensory integration theory

Bainbridge, Georgina (2019) Sensation in psychotherapy through the lens of sensory integration theory. DCPsych thesis, Middlesex University / Metanoia Institute. [Thesis]

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Sensory integration is the organisation of sensory input helping children and adults make sense of the environment (Ayres, 2005). Dysregulation in sensory processing can have developmental consequences affecting play, behaviour and learning (Ayres, 2005; Kranowitz, 2006; Walbam, 2014). As a consequence both children and adults may present to mental health services with behavioural and emotional issues (Ayres, 2005; Gouze, 2009; Miller, 2016; Walbam, 2014 & 2019). Approximately 3 million people across the UK are said to experience sensory processing differences.

This study attempts to add to the limited but growing cross-disciplinary dialogue between psychological practitioners and sensory integration experts from the field of occupational therapy. It asks how psychological services and practice can be informed by this theoretical and practical approach (Champagne, 2009; Walbam, 2014).

I interviewed six occupational therapists, trained in sensory integration theory and practice. Using a thematic analysis and interpretation of the data recorded, three master themes were established: sensory regulation and emotional regulation are entwined, evident in the practitioner approach and client presentation; tools and strategies to ground, calm, regulate and organize to engage thinking and finally the third theme highlights the disconnection between occupational therapy and psychological practice that could challenge communication between the disciplines.

The implications for practice include: understanding how sensory integration issues can effect presentation therefore informing diagnosis and formulation. Sensory integration informed psychological training and practice including an inclusive stance and environment. Encouraging sensory assessment in psychological services and practice. Developing sensory empathy and inter-disciplinary communication and collaboration to understand the sensory self. Encouraging dialogue to map terms between psychology and occupational therapy.

Item Type: Thesis (DCPsych)
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology
B. > Theses
C. Collaborative Partners > Metanoia Institute
Item ID: 27292
Depositing User: Brigitte Joerg
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2019 08:03
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 19:02

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