Several studies have explored therapist presence as a therapeutic variable from the perspective of therapists, with a high degree of convergence among identified qualities of therapist presence that include intrapersonal, interpersonal, and transpersonal dimensions. One quantitative study evidenced that clients’ experience of their therapists’ presence correlated positively with their experience of the therapeutic alliance and session outcome. There are currently no previous studies, known to this researcher, that qualitatively explore clients’ experience of therapist presence. The purpose of this study is to inquire into the phenomenological aspects of therapist presence, specifically from the perspective of clients. This qualitative study explored clients’ subjective experience of therapists’ presence and its perceived effects, particularly emphasizing its transpersonal aspects. Interviews were conducted with 7 graduate psychology students who attended schools with a transpersonal orientation, and were clients in psychotherapy who identified their therapists as very present. Descriptions of therapist presence subsumed a set of therapist characteristics that invite an optimal therapeutic relationship that has beneficial effects for clients, as presented by the participants in this study. A dual-axis model of perceived therapist presence emerged from the findings, with the horizontal (x-axis) representing a relational dimension and the vertical (y-axis) representing a transcendent dimension. Participants’ perceptions suggested that the therapist’s focus on the therapeutic relationship can precipitate the spontaneous manifestation of transpersonal features of presence, which in turn can affect the experience of the relationship itself, amplifying the quality of connection including the sense of mutual transcendence. Peak moments of therapist presence with extension on both axes were found to be particularly facilitative, with beneficial effects on both interpersonal dynamics within the therapeutic relationship, including transference issues, as well as individual transcendence. These findings suggest that the state of the therapist is a relevant variable in psychotherapy and have implications for therapist education and training.
|Commitee:||Blackstone, Judith, Geller, Shari|
|School:||Institute of Transpersonal Psychology|
|Department:||Residential Transpersonal Psychology|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-B 73/06, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Psychotherapy, Relationship, Therapist presence, Therapist state, Transpersonal dimensions|
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