Date of Paper

5-2014

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Department

Social Work

First Advisor

Katharine Hill

Abstract

The therapist’s lived experiences of personal transformation can be reflected to clients in a variety of ways in a therapeutic relationship. This was an exploratory study with a qualitative research design aimed to examine the impact of transformative experiences of the therapist on the therapeutic relationship, as well as how use of self is defined and operationalized by the therapist in clinical practice. Participants were recruited through a nonprobability snowball sample. Data was gathered through six indepth qualitative interviews of female participants from both urban and suburban settings, with an age range of 29 to 65 years old. Participants were employed in a variety of settings ranging from private practice to hospital social work. The data was analyzed and coded using thematic analysis. Findings suggest a much more complex subjective process of use of self , an introspective practice, with significant overlaps in ways the self is reflected in the world; based on the unique qualities of the participants and their willingness to engage in deep self-reflection as a practice in itself. This was seen as the primary component for participants when trying to engage effectively with a client in a meaningful way. Introspection provided clarity by helping participants sort out their feelings, reduce stress, and find meaning in their experiences. Not all personal transformations created a significant shift in what the participants did in their practice in terms of technique. The personal experiences of the participants created more selfawareness, purpose, meaning , and clarity of life, which was reflected in a deeper intention in their work with clients. Implications suggest more education and research is needed related to inter-subjective experience & transpersonal perspectives in social work practice.

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