In this dissertation the author provides an account of the emotional experience of one clinical psychology intern whose client had committed suicide. This study describes the impact on the intern both as an individual and as a professional in the field of psychology. The impact on the intern as an individual is studied in terms of the coping mechanisms used as well as the changes that occurred in her views of death and suicide. The impact on the intern as a professional is studied in terms of her interactions with patients, how she addresses the topic of suicide within therapy, and the eventual changes that she experienced as therapist. The study uses a single case qualitative research design. It concerns the experiences of a specific intern clinical psychologist within the context of a multidisciplinary academic hospital setting. The study is predominantly descriptive in nature, and as such employs the phenomenological method of Giorgi (1985) to provide a specific description of the experiences of the intern psychologist. Through this, the study aims to add to the limited descriptive and qualitative information available on the experiences of therapists whose clients commit suicide. The information available on this topic is mostly quantative in nature, providing statistical data on the emotions and experiences of therapists. The description of the experiences is also compared to the existing information on the topic. As the aim of this study is descriptive in nature, it will not provide any fixed theory on the subject. It does illustrate the experiences of one intern and actively studies the correlation of these experiences with existing data. Conclusions drawn at the end of this study are purely speculative in nature and their validity is left to judge for readers to judge for themselves.
Dissertation (MA (Clinical Psychology))--University of Pretoria, 2005.