McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
This study presents a qualitative analysis of four clinical psychology PhD students’ experiences of not knowing how to proceed in sessions with clients, and how they handled those experiences. A narrative analysis of each participant interview was employed, in which tone, rhetorical function, and identity work were closely examined. Participants took up the concept and the experience of not knowing in very different ways from each other and from the assumptions of the researcher, although sitting back and waiting in response to not knowing was a theme in common. Anxiety, uncertainty, and tension in various identity positions abounded within participant interviews, and not knowing exposed great vulnerability for each participant. Factors including training experience, theoretical perspective, personality, and identity characteristics such as race, gender, sexual orientation, and cultural background appeared to influence the way in which not knowing was experienced. The relationship between professional knowledge and ethical decision making is taken up in the context of relevant clinical and philosophical literature and with reference to recent problems of professional knowing within the field of psychology.
Gottlieb, R. (2016). Leaps of faith: Trainees' experiences of not knowing in psychotherapy (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/33