Can a Psychotherapy Student Authentically Grow under Academic Demands: a Heuristic Inquiry
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Psychotherapy practice is said to promote its client’s personal growth by creating an environment containing conditions needed for clients to authentically be themselves. This research aims to explore a parallel process, namely, to discover if a researcher and psychotherapist in training can achieve authentic growth during the process of writing a dissertation in an environment containing academic conditions and academic demands. This research asserts that accruing knowledge in training for a chosen profession benefits from being carried out in alignment with the way that profession values knowledge. However, the academic environment in which psychotherapy training occurs appears to include an intolerance of ambiguity, a demand to be clear and straightforward, and an assumption that privileges intellectual understanding, all of which are at odds with the value psychotherapy places on the inclusion of the unconscious and the unknown needed for authentic growth. Exploration of the tension between these two sets of values may prove a useful focus of inquiry for both the profession and its trainees. Using a heuristic methodology and method, and guided by Donald Winnicott’s idea of the “true self,” this research will seek to discover, during the dissertation writing process, aspects of that work which either promote or diminish the ability to grow authentically. Research findings will aim to assist psychotherapy students to gain more growth from their training courses, and also to assist psychotherapy training courses to consider possible improvements that could be made in the way in which future psychotherapists are trained.