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‘I never talked about, ever’ : a comprehensive process analysis of a significant client disclosure event in therapy

Balmforth, Jane and Elliott, Robert (2012) ‘I never talked about, ever’ : a comprehensive process analysis of a significant client disclosure event in therapy. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 11 (2). ISSN 1473-3145 (In Press)

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Abstract

The present study was intended to examine how a particular client disclosure came about and what made it important to the client. A client-identified significant therapy event involving disclosure of childhood abuse was analysed using Comprehensive Process Analysis (CPA), a qualitative interpretive method for examining the process, effects and context of significant events in therapy. The analysis identified therapist invitation and client universalisation as the key elements of the disclosure event. The context analysis showed how the event linked to the client’s symbolisation of her fear earlier in the session and in the previous session. The client gained insight into how the earlier abuse had affected her life, linking it to the victimisation that was her primary reason for seeking therapy, and to her relationship with her mother. The therapist facilitated the event by following up the client’s hints, trusting the strength of the alliance, and staying close to the client’s frame of reference. The findings suggest that the initial significance of an invited disclosure event may diminish for a client over the course of therapy.