A Workshop to Improve Experienced Therapists’ Capacity to Integrate a Client’s Cultural and Spiritual Identity

Shujah, Atif
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Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, University of Regina

Spirituality has not been extensively included in the training curriculum of academic programs for therapists. Therapists have expressed a desire for continuing education to support their capacity to be responsive to clients’ spirituality (e.g., Plumb, 2011). In light of a need and desire for training, experienced therapists should have access to continuing educational opportunities to hone their capacity. Workshops are an option for such continuing education (Orlinsky, Botermans, & Ronnestad, 2001). I sought to understand the relevance of a continuing education workshop that was designed to enable therapists to better integrate their clients’ spirituality into therapy. Therapists who participated in the workshop were requested to provide their feedback on the workshop experience. The data were constructed through a semi-structured interview which was followed by a brief open-ended questionnaire. A model of the therapists’ feedback on the workshop was generated through use of Grounded Theory methodology. The therapists’ views were organized into four main themes. The first theme highlights the therapists’ current and future attempts to offer services to their clients. This effort provided the context in which they spoke about the relevance of both prior preparatory experiences (Theme 2) and the workshop experience (Theme 3). The participants reported outcomes of the workshop in Theme 3. Theme 4 entails the participants’ descriptions of the specific elements of the workshop that were believed to contribute to the respective outcomes. The potential relevance of the findings for the training of other therapists is discussed. I highlight the potential relevance of the workshop as an instructional resource for therapists. In addition, I elaborate on the potential implications of the findings for the design of other educational resources that could facilitate therapists’ sensitivity to clients’ spirituality. In the final chapter, I summarize the implications of this inquiry, discuss limitations of the inquiry, and suggest some possible next steps in both evaluating the workshop as well as broader contentious issues related to training practicing therapists.

A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Psychology University of Regina. xi, 267 l.