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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Embodied transcendental empathy: A phenomenological study of psychotherapists' transpersonal embodied experiences in therapeutic relationship
by Macecevic, Julie Peters, Ph.D., Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, 2008, 225; 3307351
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation is a qualitative study of psychotherapists' lived experiences of a phenomenon herein called embodied transcendental empathy or ETE (author's term). ETE involves a holistic, relational approach to psychotherapy emphasizing the embodied experiences of the psychotherapist, and the deeply engaging intersubjective psychotherapeutic encounter. Literature supporting the existence of embodied transpersonal phenomena in psychotherapy sessions is reviewed from 7 major theoretical perspectives: (a) psychoanalytic, (b) analytic or depth psychology, (c) humanistic, (d) transpersonal, (e) body psychotherapy, (f) interpersonal physiology, and (g) nondual psychotherapy. Participants were San Francisco Bay Area psychotherapists ( n = 8), who were either self-selected, or nominated as having experienced ETE. Data was collected in open-ended interviews and analyzed using the Phenomenological Psychological Method. Results included the following 5 key constituents, which delineate the essential meaning structure of ETE. (1) The psychotherapist experiences a profound quality of being described as relaxed, calm, open, or spacious, and deeply intimate and accepting. This state of being invites clients to reciprocate by fully engaging in the therapeutic process. (2) Psychotherapists' bodies are integral to the ETE experience for information gathering and empathic expression. (3) There is an experience of dropping or settling into a mutual space or field of experience within which interpersonal boundaries are less defined and the psychotherapist perceptually experiences the client's experiences. (4) A transformation or breakthrough occurs on the part of the client. (5) Extraordinary, sacred, and/or transcendent phenomena occur. These key themes are discussed in relation to the literature, with an emphasis on humanistic psychology, transpersonal psychology, nondual psychotherapy, and body psychotherapy. Parallels are drawn between the therapeutic encounter and the original attachment relationship, particularly in terms of interpersonal neurobiology. Applications of the results are significant for the personal and professional development of psychotherapists, and for the optimal utilization of the client-therapist relationship for therapeutic benefit.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Frager, Robert
Commitee: Burdge, Sarah, Dennehy, Virginia, Giorgi, Barbro
School: Institute of Transpersonal Psychology
Department: Residential Clinical Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 69/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Mental health, Clinical psychology
Keywords: California, Embodiment, Intersubjectivity, Nondual, Presence, Psychotherapy, San Francisco Bay Area, Therapeutic relationship, Transcendental empathy, Transpersonal
Publication Number: 3307351
ISBN: 978-0-549-56063-0
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