‘They daren’t tell people’: therapists’ experiences of working with clients who report anomalous experiences

Elizabeth C Roxburgh, Rachel Evenden

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives. This study explored the experiences of therapists who have worked with clients reporting anomalous experiences (AEs) to consider how they addressed such issues in therapy sessions. An AE is defined as ‘an uncommon experience (e.g., synesthesia) or one that, although it may be experienced by a significant number of persons (e.g., psi experiences), is believed to deviate from ordinary experience or from the usually accepted explanations of reality according to Western mainstream science’ (Cardeña, Lynn, & Krippner, 2014 p. 4). Method. Semi-structured face to face interviews were conducted with eight therapists who had worked with at least one client who had reported an AE in therapy. An inductive thematic analysis was conducted on transcripts. Results. Four themes were derived from participants’ data, which were labelled using short participant extracts: ‘Testing the waters’, ‘Exploration not explanation’, ‘It’s special but it’s not unique’, and ‘Forewarned and forearmed’. Conclusions. Participants felt that clients were apprehensive about disclosure of AEs due to fears about how AEs might be interpreted. Findings highlight the importance of therapists exploring the meaning of AEs with clients, rather than imposing an explanation, and having access to accurate and reliable information about AEs.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling
Volume18
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2016

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