Breaking boundaries : an exploration of the experience of the pregnant trainee therapist

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Toomey, Janice
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BA (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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The aim of this study is to explore the experience of pregnant trainee therapists. It seeks to explore how pregnancy impacts on clinical work, personal notions of identity and motherhood, and on the overall training experience. A sample group of five participants were interviewed using semi-structured qualitative methodology and the data gathered is analysed and presented according to the procedures of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. A far reaching clinical impact is reported, with both facilitating and disruptive elements such as increased attunement and transference, physical discomfort, issues around disclosure and containment, heightened counter-transference, and increased need for preservation and protection. Personal impact on the self includes struggles with changing identity, the re-emergence of old conflicts, and a reworking of parental relationship among others. The findings also include issues particular to participants‟ training experience. All the individuals in this study feel there was a lack of information and support. Some highlight the inter-connectedness of the training and new motherhood experience. The findings are discussed in relation to the existing literature and recommendations are made for training institutions and future pregnant trainee therapists in relation to this issue. Author keywords: Pregnant trainee therapist, disclosure, transference, counter-transference, identity