Psychotherapists’ altered states of consciousness
A study of counsellors’ and psychotherapists’ experiences of altered states of consciousness whilst conducting therapy
Keywords:altered states of consciousness, psychotherapy, intersubjectivity, connection, Rogerian principle
The majority of research that has been conducted around counselling and psychotherapy has been directed towards the evaluation of client outcome and client experience. Studies concentrated solely on therapist experience during the therapeutic encounter are largely in the minority. The purpose of this study was to explicate a deeper understanding of the unusual and unforgettable events that led to dramatic shifts in consciousness experienced by some counsellors and psychotherapists during the therapeutic hour. A study group of six participants was assembled via open invitation. The group comprised of three student counsellors nearing the end of their studies and three qualified therapists of varying degrees of experience. A semi-structured interview process provided transcriptions of the participant experiences, and an interpretative phenomenological analysis was conducted. This study found that the willingness to be open to the presence and essence of another, on both sides of the therapeutic dyad, had the potential to contribute to the intense, powerful and profound experiences arising in the therapist. In all cases, the unusual events and altered states led to the deepening of the healing potential within the therapy whilst simultaneously providing developmental propulsion for each practitioner.
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Copyright (c) 2020 Colin Agnew
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