The clearing of being: a phenomenological study of openness in psychotherapy

King, Rupert E.D. (2017) The clearing of being: a phenomenological study of openness in psychotherapy. Other thesis, Middlesex University.


Readily acknowledged but rarely understood – Openness, as a concept in psychotherapy, invites further attention. This research takes philosophy as its starting point, and weaves it with the lived experience of practitioners in order to develop a therapeutic understanding of Openness.

Hermeneutic phenomenology was used as the methodology, with extensive reference to the work of van Manen (2014, 2002, 1990). Data was gathered from a rich diversity of sources: philosophical texts, a review of the secondary literature, interviews with participants, exploration of metaphor and the researcher’s anecdotal writings.

The study was guided by Heidegger’s image of a forest clearing (die Lichtung), a metaphor for the Openness of Being. Through phenomenological description the research explores how Openness enables the dialectic between disclosure and concealment in the therapeutic space. At the same time it acknowledges the difficulties experienced by therapists in staying-with anxiety, evoked by the uncertainty and mystery of Openness. In short this study sheds light on how therapists understand and embody Openness in their work.

Products resulting from the study included: a peer reviewed paper, conference workshop, an article, a book proposal and a workshop at the Metanoia Research Academy.

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