Exploring the meaning in meaningful coincidences: an interpretative phenomenological analysis of synchronicity in therapy

Elizabeth C Roxburgh, Sophie Ridgway, Chris A Roe

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Synchronicity experiences (SEs) are defined as psychologically meaningful connections between inner events (e.g. thought, dream or vision) and one or more external events occurring simultaneously or at a future point in time. There has been limited systematic research that has investigated the phenomenology of SEs in therapy. This study aimed to redress this by exploring the process and nature of such experiences from the perspective of the practitioner. Semi-structured face-to-face interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of nine practitioners who reported SEs in their therapeutic sessions (three counsellors, three psychologists and three psychotherapists), and focused on how participants make sense of their experiences of synchronicity in therapy. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to identify three superordinate themes: sense of connectedness, therapeutic process, and professional issues. Findings suggest that SEs can serve to strengthen the therapeutic relationship and are perceived as useful harbingers of information about the therapeutic process, as well as being a means of overcoming communication difficulties, as they are seen to provide insights into the client’s experiencing of themselves and others, regardless of whether or not the SE is acknowledged by the client or disclosed by the therapist.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-161
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotherapy & Counselling
Volume17
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2015

Keywords

  • Interpretative phenomenological analysis
  • meaningfulcoincidence
  • practitioner
  • synchronicity
  • therapeutic process
  • therapeutic relationship

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