An exploration into the influence of socialisation on the presenting persona of the experienced clinician

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McDonagh, Richard
Issue Date
BA (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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The purpose of the research was to investigate the professional presentation of psychotherapists within the therapeutic exchange, and to garner an understanding of the foundation of their particular presentation. The research undertook to explore the impact that pre-professional socialisation had on their current day presentation as a practitioner. It further undertook to examine how professional socialisation, which occurs during the rigorous training period of becoming a practitioner impacted on their current presentation as a therapist. The research queried whether there was a crossover in these two key phases of socialisation, or, did one in fact supersede the other. The research was of a qualitative nature, and was conducted via semi-structured interviews. The interviews were specifically designed to elicit the personal and experiential details, required to get an understanding of the two key phases of socialisation, which were central to the enquiry. All participants were accredited members of the relevant accrediting bodies specific to their discipline, and had five years or more experience. The sample that was selected, included a cross-section of three different psychotherapeutic orientations; one cognitive behavioural therapist, three psychodynamic therapists, and one psychoanalytic therapist. The sample were of varying ages and genders. The interviews with each participant were fully transcribed. The data was subjected to a thematic analysis, in order to extract the pertinent information and findings of the research. The findings survey the idiosyncratic responses of each participant and disclosure of their perception of themselves, in both key socialisation phases. It further examines how specifics around the therapists’ understanding of these phases informs their current day presentation. An exploration for the rationale behind the presentation of each discipline is given, and is explained using the literature that was reviewed. The impact of the training and the performative demands of each orientation are applied to each participant’s particular modality of presentation. Further research and recommendations on the findings were put forward relating to the need for awareness of professional façade, and its role in psychotherapy. Author keywords: Socialisation, presentation, professional persona, professional facade