An exploration of how mothers who experience the journey of becoming a psychotherapist relate to their children during the process

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O'Reilly, Suzanna
Issue Date
MA in Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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Findings are presented for a qualitative IPA study that explored how mothers who experienced the journey of becoming a psychotherapist related to their children during the process. Three trainee therapists in the final years of training were interviewed. They reported being positively impacted by the training and the self-understanding that comes with the experiential learning. The challenges of training as a psychotherapist whilst being a mother were explored. Personal emotional experiences were shared in relation to the concept of “change” and “ self-awareness” and how this impacted on family life. All participants attend therapy as part of the training and reported it to be a key part of transformative learning. Fostering critical reflection allows adult learners to tap into their rich life experiences as a basis of growth and life- long learning. Personal therapy and client work offered the opportunity to examine and identify the assumptions and common-sense beliefs that underlie our thoughts and actions. A heightened sensitivity to issues around babyhood, pregnancy, maternal feelings and parenting were explored in the context of studying psychotherapy as a mother. Additional stressors like the practicalities of managing and juggling family life around the training was explored, however it was also acknowledged that all trainees whether mothers or not have commitments outside the training. The personal growth experienced by the participants was varied, including a more relaxed perspective and greater awareness of self. All participants had a sense that they were moving forward with greater wisdom about themselves which allowed for a freedom to relate to their children in a more open manner. A greater appreciation of the profound impact of words was attributed to the training and this had a positive impact on family relating.