On becoming a psychosynthesis therapist: an investigation of the process

Manson, Doreen Elizabeth (2009) On becoming a psychosynthesis therapist: an investigation of the process. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This research study is concerned with the motivation of psychotherapists who choose to train in Psychosynthesis. Psychosynthesis sits within the transpersonal school of psychology and is less well known than the mainstream schools of Psychoanalytic, Behavioural and Humanistic psychology. There has been considerable research into the motivation of those who choose a career as a psychotherapist, in general, but none into why someone should be drawn to this Spiritual model.

Life narrative interviews were conducted with twelve eminent Psychosynthesis psychotherapists. The interviews were recorded on audiotape and transcribed. The format was of a semistructured interview based on five key questions. At the end of each life narrative interview, the participant was asked to reconnect with the moment of choosing, to allow an image to come and then to draw. The drawings were then explored with the participants, who were invited to explain the meanings of the images and symbolism contained in them. Comparative thematic analysis was used to identify key and minor themes in the interview data. The symbolism and imagery in the drawings were considered in relation to transpersonal theory.

The initial results suggested that those choosing to train as Psychosynthesis therapists shared, to a considerable extent, the 'dysfunctional' childhood backgrounds reported in earlier research as common among psychotherapists trained in a wider range of therapies.

The earlier research had framed the choice to train as a psychotherapist as stemming from a 'negative' motivation. This is an interpretation from the perspective of 'depth' psychology. This research study suggests another possible motivation, from the perspective of 'height' psychology. 'Height' psychology suggests that human behaviour and human choices, can be motivated by 'higher' as well as 'lower' needs. The findings support the concept of 'dual motivation', a term which was used by one of the research participants, based on her observations of the many therapists she had trained in Psychosynthesis over a long period of time. This term captures the essence of the two dimensions of motivation.

The anticipated strong interest in Spirituality was confirmed in the data results but the dimension of Mysticism, which had not been anticipated, emerged as a strong feature in three of the life histories. All twelve participants been drawn by the inclusive nature of the model, which they felt facilitated an unusual degree of freedom in therapeutic practice, without compromising the integrity of the model. The central Psychosynthesis techniques of visualisation, meditation, imagery and disidentification, emerged as strong factors in the choice because clear and effective results had been experienced in both personal work and work with clients. Two therapists identified the dual focus on Heart and Mind as attractive to them. In Psychosynthesis theory, Heart is more than emotions; it encompasses a dimension of the Will (Good Will or the Will to Good).

Surprisingly, the marginality of the model was identified as a positive attraction by two of the therapists, as it echoed their own marginalised life positions, especially in childhood.

Lastly, the experiential nature of Psychosynthesis therapy was valued as giving a creative and enlivening dimension to practice. The analysis of the drawings further confirmed the strong Spiritual orientation of the therapists. The symbolism in the drawings was overwhelmingly of a Spiritual nature with the dominant symbol of Light appearing in ten of the drawings. Other transpersonal symbols appearing included a path or journey, a chalice, the rose and new birth.

The results suggest that Psychosynthesis offers a model of what it is to be a human being, which is validating and affirming at a personal level to those who are attracted to a transpersonal psychology. Furthermore, it offers experiential and creative techniques, which are experienced as powerful and successful ways to work therapeutically.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Hall, E.
Keywords: psychosynthesis, psychosynthesis therapist, transpersonal psychology
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC 321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Education
Item ID: 11633
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2010 10:59
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2017 06:44
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/11633

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