Therapists' constructs of healthy functioning as aspirational goal in transformative psychotherapy

by Steyn, R.

Abstract (Summary)
This dissertation reviews the ways in which psychotherapists working in relatively long-term 'transformational' therapies construct the outcome goals of their interventions. It is generally accepted that a therapist's beliefs about what constitutes mental health will influence the client, and will therefore facilitate a certain outcome accordingly. A problem in a long-term, 'non-directive' therapy is that the eventual outcome is not always visible in the interim development of the client or in the business of individual sessions. Without a clearly defined 'plan' or 'goal' there is a real danger of the intervention having opposite results to what would have been desirable, or no noticeably beneficial results, both of which can be an abuse of the client's investment and trust in the process. The absence of clearly constructed goals makes it difficult to assess efficacy of a therapeutic method used to attain an improved state of mental health that will be lasting, i.e. a positive 'transformation'; it also problematises comparisons across orientations. The identification of explicit goals is of special importance in a developing 'third-world' community like South Africa, where western ('European') concepts of mental health are being offered as an alternative to so-called 'indigenous healing' and where different cultural communities may have different expectations, needs or demands of their members 'in health'. Individual-based therapeutic orientations included in the research were psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic therapies, including object-relational therapies with various emphases and self psychology, as well as transformative types of hypnosis, Gestalt therapy, client-centred therapy and transactional analysis. Twenty of the semi-structured interviews with 52 therapists working in one or more of these areas were selected for construct analysis. Through analysis of the constructs of mental health as aspirational goal that emerged in therapists' talking about their experience of the process and the consequences of therapy observed in their patients, it appeared that there are generalisable constructs across various orientations in the transformative therapies. It is hoped that these constructs may serve as a foundation for further research in the problem areas indicated, but also that therapists working in the field may use this research not only as a basis for self-evaluation, but for adding to the constructs from their own experience, to the further enrichment of the whole field of work.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Rhodes University

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/2000

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