This study seeks to explore students’ subjective and collective experience of an experiential family therapy module within the Clinical Psychology Masters training programme. It looks at the perceptions of nine trainee therapists who used genograms and family sculpting to present their family of origin. The study takes place after the completion of the practical internship year with the purpose of exploring relevant emotional, cognitive, social and therapeutic effects of this module. A literature survey reveals that the use of genograms and family sculpting during training has received little research interest as most studies have primarily focused on their use during therapy with clients and in supervision. There is a scarcity of literature available that pertains directly to psychologists themselves and their wider social context. An exploratory review has been made to supplement the literature and pertains to experiential programmes in training in general and the psychologist’s self in training. The epistemology that directs this research falls within a postmodern frame. The experience is viewed from within the broad systems perspective. This approach acknowledges the dynamic and recursive interactions which occur between and within systems, and permits a broad perspective to be taken that is inclusive rather than exclusive. A qualitative research design was selected as it lends itself particularly well to the study of the ‘lived realities’ of people within their context and allows the information gained from the study to guide the research process. Semi-structured open-ended in-depth interviews were used as they allow for greater freedom and fewer restrictions regarding direction for the participant. A thematic analysis was carried out in order for the central themes of the experience to emerge. These themes were discussed extensively and integrated with the literature available. The multigenerational family presentation seems to create greater awareness of patterns and roles and these insights have a pervasive impact in many contexts. Understandably, the trainees feel emotionally overwhelmed as they become both observer and observed, viewing their interaction from a third-person perspective. This awareness of process results in a loss of spontaneous response and initial debilitation which is associated with feelings of loss and isolation. The self-exploratory behaviour gives rise to a reflexive reconstruction of self as a result of the access to new meanings regarding the dynamics and relationships within the family system, which enhances understanding of the complex interplay of systems, and ultimately facilitates the processes of integration, repair and resolution.
Dissertation (MA (Clinical Psychology))--University of Pretoria, 2007.