Informed consent and psychotherapy: An interpretative phenomenological analysis of therapists' views

  • Goddard A
  • Murray C
  • Simpson J
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Abstract

Objectives. To examine the issue of informed consent and how this is translated into clinical psychotherapy practice. Design. A qualitative approach was taken in which interviews were used to produce data. Methods. Nine clinical psychologists with specialist psychodynamic training took part in the research. Participants were interviewed using a semi-structured interview schedule. The interviews were transcribed and the data were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Results. The tensions between balancing the requirements of informed consent with psychodynamic practice were explored and the notion of whether clients can truly be 'informed' prior to undertaking psychodynamic therapy was raised. Four major themes emerged from the data: 'psychodynamic therapy as risky'; 'balancing expectations between therapist and client'; 'psychodynamic therapy as unique and experiential'; and 'informed consent as complex: a linguistic conceit?' Conclusions. This research has been valuable in identifying therapists' views and experiences of how the issue of informed consent is addressed in therapeutic practice. In the light of the findings of this research, future investigation would benefit from more detailed examination of the process of providing informed consent, examining whether, and how often, consent issues are revisited by therapists. More research focusing on the views and need of clients are also warranted.

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