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Living the Tension: Deepening an Understanding of the Therapist's Experience with Social Identities and Power Relations Open Access


Other title
therapists social identity
therapeutic space
Type of item
Degree grantor
St. Stephen's College
Author or creator
Tracy Eileen Wideman
Supervisor and department
Dr. Colleen MacDougall
Examining committee member and department
Dr. John Carr
Dr. Heather Jamieson
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Psychotherapy and Spirituality
Degree level
Research on therapists’ experience of their own social identities and power relations in the therapeutic space is limited. This study provides an opening into the experience of three therapists who described living the tension of their own social identities and power relations so that space is created for the meeting of other. The researcher was also included as a coparticipant in the study. A hermeneutic phenomenological research approach was used to explore the psycho-theological layers in the research question and to deepen understanding of how therapists come to a practice attuned to the depth of meaning in this experience of meeting other. The existential categories of body, space, time, other, and selfhood were applied as a soft structure for shaping the semistructured interviews and for synthesizing and interpreting data. Findings are discussed as they relate to the existential categories and to the multidimensionality and complexity of power relations and social identity. Results also demonstrated that living the tension requires an ability to live in the vulnerability and strain of the tension. As a result of this study, therapists are encouraged to consider the meeting spaces and movements of social identity and power relations intrapsychically and interrelationally; as well as to consider how the meeting spaces and movements are sieved through these five existential categories. Insight into the meeting spaces and movements requires further complicating multicultural and cultural competency models in counselling so that tension in the therapeutic space can be embraced with flow and movement.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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