BACP Accredited Counsellor and UKCP Registered Psychotherapist with 19 years post qualification experience as a practitioner in NHS and private practice.
I am interested in the language which clients use in therapy and the relationship between this and their experience of the counselling /psychotherapy and outcome.
In research conducted for my doctorate in psychotherapy, I focused on pronoun usage (essentially, the exploring the impact of inviting clients to rephrase statements in the first person, in order to "own" their material). I discovered that such interventions are generally experienced as positive and helpful and I postulated a model which links such ownership to responsibility-taking and an improvement in the client's ability to integrate difficult experiences into their life narrative. However, I also identified a number of “watch outs”, indicating to practitioners where such interventions may be unhelpful or even counter-productive.
In a small quantitative pilot study I also established a statistically significant relationship between changes in pronoun usage and improved outcomes, as measured using CORE-OM.
In future research, I aim to expand my existing study to include larger numbers of therapists and clients.
I also want to explore in greater detail the impact of "ownership" in language and benefit/outcome in therapy based on reflective writing. I hope to be able to include students at the university and their placement providers.
Although there is relatively little research of the impact of spoken language in therapy, there are a great many studies which have explored the benefits of expressive writing, in particular exploring how changes in pronoun usage might be related to recovery following trauma. My aim is to link these two research strands in a study which would compare the benefits of talking therapy or writing therapy alone versus combined talking and writing therapy.
Previous qualitative research (Priest, 2013) showed that encouraging clients to use the first person ('I') in counselling narratives can be beneficial in enabling them to integrate their experiences more effectively, challengin... more >>.