Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Passionately Committed Marriage and Family Therapists: A Grounded Theory Exploration of What Works
by Campbell, Kate Mitchell, Ph.D., Nova Southeastern University, 2012, 281; 3507061
Abstract (Summary)

The profession of marriage and family therapy (MFT) is worth preserving. Not only is it ethically imperative that MFTs function optimally in relation to the therapeutic context; their career life depends on it. This dissertation research explored the perspectives of passionately committed MFTs to find out what works. The dominant discourse in literature presents many studies focusing on the prevention of negative effects from the psychotherapeutic profession such as burnout, compassion fatigue, and vicarious traumatization. Additionally, little is known about the experiences of therapists who remain positively influenced by their work and passionately committed to the practice of therapy, especially in the field of family therapy. Therefore, the question guiding this research was, "How do MFTs create and sustain passionate committed relationships to the profession?"

This study employed a grounded theory approach to better understand MFTs' experiences of passionate commitment within various stages of career development. Seven passionately committed MFTs were peer nominated and served as participants in this research. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews, which were analyzed by this researcher. Constant comparison of emerging data illuminated thematic, categorical, and theoretical conceptualizations regarding what works for passionately committed MFTs. The findings showed that passionately committed MFTs are those who utilize intentional skills, while engaging in a combination of interactional processes. These interactions take place between the therapist's relationship with themselves, their clients, their interpersonal support network, and their larger professional identity in the field. In essence, what works for passionately committed MFTs is the continuous process of creating inspirational and rewarding experiences; utilizing personal intentions and rejuvenation strategies; collaborating with social support; embracing an interconnected relationship between one's personal and professional life; nurturing professional growth and development; and building on the keys to success, while minimizing potential detractions from passionate commitment.

This research offers a strength-based understanding that is grounded in the perspectives of passionately committed MFTs. The findings suggest that passionate commitment might be "the difference which makes a difference" (Bateson, 1972, p. 459) for therapists practicing in the field, clients receiving therapeutic services, supervisors educating supervisees, and for future training purposes.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Burnett, Christopher F.
School: Nova Southeastern University
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: DAI-B 73/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Counseling Psychology, Occupational psychology, Individual & family studies
Keywords: Burnout, Marriage and family therapy, Psychotherapists
Publication Number: 3507061
ISBN: 978-1-267-31575-5
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