How Clients Benefit from Psychotherapy: An Exploration of Unanticipated Positive Outcomes

  • Author / Creator
    Ross, Marjorie K
  • Psychotherapy has been found to be highly effective, and yet we are still learning why. We do not know much about what is significant for clients about their therapy experiences, or how they may benefit from therapy in unexpected ways. Using an interpretive phenomenological analysis methodology, this investigation sought to answer the question, “What are clients’ experiences of benefitting from therapy in unanticipated ways?” Six participants were recruited through purposive sampling from a counselling centre in Edmonton, Alberta. Participants were interviewed individually using semi-structured, open-ended questions that served to explore the phenomenon of experiencing unanticipated outcomes from counselling, and the significance of these experiences. Four main themes emerged from participant descriptions that encompassed this phenomenological experience including: (1) having a supportive therapeutic relationship; (2) growing; (3) engaging more in life; and (4) going beyond the problem. The results are discussed in terms of both psychotherapy processes and outcomes. They also serve to help us understand positive changes that can result from psychotherapy, beyond those targeted within sessions. As the first study to explore this phenomenon, the results are useful for better understanding how clients make use of therapy and provide avenues for future research.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2017
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    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.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Specialization
    • Counselling Psychology
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Dr. Denise Larsen, Educational Psychology
    • Dr. Carol Leroy, Education
    • Dr. Alexander Clark, Nursing
    • Dr. Elizabeth Nutt Williams, Psychology
    • Dr. Jacqueline Pei, Educational Psychology