The value of integrative psychotherapy for women in prostitution
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Higher Diploma in Arts in Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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The purpose of this research is to explore whether psychotherapy can help women who are currently affected by prostitution, bearing in mind that women, who are still working in the sex industry, may leave their psychotherapy session to return to prostitution. Firstly, this study aims to explore the potential for support offered by one psychotherapeutic approach, namely the integrative approach, psychodynamic and humanistic, with its emphasis on the therapeutic alliance. This research found that psychotherapy can offer women support and that a psychodynamic and humanistic approach, which emphasises the therapeutic alliance is well placed of offer this support. Secondly, it considers the concept of dissociation, which is normally dismantled in the psychotherapy process. It explores whether dissociation in prostitution is a job requirement for working in the sex industry and should be maintained, or if it is a dangerous defence mechanism, which should be challenged in the therapy process. This research found evidence of both. In the final analysis, this research does not recommend a general psychotherapeutic approach to working with dissociation in therapy. The therapist may work with the client to dismantle dissociation if it has become clear that dissociation is no longer serving its purpose (namely to offer the woman a form of protection) but instead, is placing her in danger, both mentally and physically. Alternatively, the therapist may come to understand that dissociation is necessary to allow the woman have a mental separation between herself and her work. There is no ‘one size fits all’ and the therapist’s response will depend on the strength of the individual therapeutic relationship