How do clients and therapists utilize positive emotion in psychotherapy sessions?
Dianne Kathleen Westwood
There are few studies in the literature that examine in-session emotional processes from the perspective of both client and therapist in psychotherapy. The aim of this project was to provide a rich and empathic understanding of the processes clients and therapists engaged in while working with clients' positive emotional experience. The research question that guided the study was, "How do clients and therapists utilize positive emotion when they perceive it has arisen for the client in
... rapy sessions." A multiple case study approach (Stake, 2006) with a philosophical hermeneutic theoretical framework (Gadamer, 1975/2004) was used to examine the therapeutic conversations of three psychotherapy dyads. Interpersonal process recall interviewing (IPR, Bloom, 1954; Kagan, 1984) was conducted with individual therapy partners while they watched a video recording of their therapy session. The therapy sessions and interviews were transcribed, coded, and analyzed by adapting Braun and Clarke's (2006) method of thematic analysis within a hermeneutic interpretivist lens. The analysis found that the therapeutic relationship and conversations formed the container within which therapy work, and its co-created meaning occurred. Considerable value and care was afforded to this connection by dyad partners. The therapeutic conversations revealed that therapy dyad partners had a significant impact on one another, across emotional, aesthetic, cultural, and moral domains. It also revealed that the privileging of positive emotional processes steered the direction of both the therapy sessions and research interviews. In addition, six common themes emerged across the three cases as follows: a) paying attention to safety; b) fueling the tank of togetherness; c) trusting the process and seeing where it leads; d) making implicit experience explicit and experiential to expand awareness and increase understanding; e) undoing aloneness; and f) affirming, anchoring, and appreciating the work done together. The implications for counsell [...]