Beginning Female Therapists' Experiences of Applying Theory into Their Practice


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Virginia Tech


Although there is an extensive amount of literature on the developmental stages of beginning therapists and the challenges they face, little is known about one of their most difficult challenges; transferring theory learned in class to their practice. This study is a qualitative look at how beginning therapists learn to apply theory to their practice. Ten students who were beginning therapists with at least 75 hours of client contact hours were interviewed from four different universities with accredited marriage and family therapy programs. The study was conducted using a phenomenological perspective to explore how beginning therapists begin to apply theory to their practice. Using the constant comparison method of analysis, five major themes emerged from the interviews as well as a general developmental process that help to describe how beginning therapists apply theory to their practice. The main themes found include before seeing clients, early process of theory application, what was helpful, later process of theory application and a reflection of that process. Implications for beginning therapists and training programs as well as future research are indicated.



Beginning Therapists, Theory Application, Stages of Learning, Transferring Theory to Practice