'Between bodies': an implicit relational model

Sheedy, Geraldine (2013) 'Between bodies': an implicit relational model. Other thesis, Middlesex University and Metanoia Institute.


The main aim of this study was to generate a theory of what happens between the body of the therapist and the body of the client in a psychotherapeutic setting. This was achieved through documenting and analysing first-hand therapists’ experiences of their own embodied being in the psychotherapeutic process. A descriptive phenomenological design was adopted using a grounded theory methodology. Participants were experienced psychological therapists, nine of whom were female and three of whom were male. Through use of semi-structured interviews the research captured therapists’ direct experience of their embodied interaction with clients. It was discovered that at any given juncture the body of the therapist registers a considerable amount of intersubjective somatic information. The Core Category of Between Bodies emerged from this analysis and this is divided into five sub-categories. These include (i) Body to Body (ii) Connection (iii) Somatic Experiencing of Other (iv) Embodied Process and (v) Intersubjective Space. Findings describe a theoretically salient Implicit Relational Model of what happens between bodies in the psychotherapeutic encounter. Movement to and between each of the sub-categories is mediated by the embodied processes of the first sub-category Body to Body. These embodied relational processes are co-created and act as a mediator between client and therapist for generating one or more of the sub-categories Connection, Somatic Experiencing of Other, Embodied Process and Intersubjective Space. This research study highlights the importance of exploring and attending to implicit processes. The findings are discussed in relation to current research on neuroscience and infant studies. Such theory will add to knowledge and understanding of the implicit intersubjective field of the therapeutic relationship. It will also help to inform specific recommendations for supervisors, trainers, therapists and researchers.

Doctor in Psychotherapy by Professional Studies thesis
GSheedy_thesis.pdf - Accepted Version

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