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The spiritual aspect of loss: A phenomenological exploration with psychotherapists

This dissertation presents the results of a study designed to explore the therapist's phenomenological awareness of spirituality in their work with their clients who are dealing with loss. The clinical literature reveals the individual's response to loss includes a spiritual dimension. As traditional psychology has not included spirituality in its study or practice, little is known of how psychotherapists are attending to and including this dimension in the therapy. The dissertation included a review of the literature on: bereavement studies, self renewal theory, adult development, creativity, and spiritual emergencies. All of which provide current information about spiritual experiences. Qualitative research was done with eight psychotherapists from four Out-Patient Mental Health Clinics. Data from in-depth interviews were coded. A thematic analysis offered 18 themes which were common to all participants and were organized under three sets: (1) Psychotherapy and Loss, (2) Loss and Spirituality, (3) Spirituality and Psychotherapy. Some examples of themes in set #1 are, "The Developmental Significance of Loss", "Variations in the Loss Response"; in set #2, "Faith as a Resource", "Variations in Spiritual Manifestations"; in set #3, "Spirituality as Part of Human Nature", "Evidence of Spirituality as a Dynamic in Psychotherapy". Four profiles were constructed to provide an added perspective of the interviews. The findings were unanimous in that all the psychotherapists could identify a spiritual dimension in the experience of loss, in their own personal and professional lives and in human nature. The findings were consonant with the literature and suggest the validity of the spiritual dimension in the loss experience and the need for more attention to the spiritual aspects of human experience in the training and practice of conventional therapists.
Date01 January 1992
CreatorsCournoyer, Antoinette Anna
PublisherScholarWorks@UMass Amherst
Source SetsUniversity of Massachusetts, Amherst
Detected LanguageEnglish
SourceDoctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest

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