Psychotherapeutic interventions for clients seeking long-term romantic relationships, yet displaying intimacy avoidance patterns: a thematic analysis of clinicians' experiences

Mason Roantree, Madeleine (2021) Psychotherapeutic interventions for clients seeking long-term romantic relationships, yet displaying intimacy avoidance patterns: a thematic analysis of clinicians' experiences. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.

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Abstract / Description

Relational issues are common reasons people seek psychological help, hereunder issues regarding romance, where many people struggle with dating and relationship formation. This is often due to a fear of emotional intimacy expressed as avoidance of emotional and physical closeness, explained in part by attachment theory. The present study is a qualitative investigation into what therapeutic interventions psychological practitioners employ when they encounter clients who experience avoidance attachment patterns in dating and relationship formation. Taking a point of departure in attachment theory the paper considers how secondary attachment avoidance patterns, or emotional deactivation strategies, contribute to these difficulties and argues a need to clarify what therapeutic interventions clinicians’ practice to remedy the adverse effects of avoidance patterns in intimacy. While some therapies incorporate attachment theory in their approach to alleviating attachmentrelated issues, it is less clear what practitioners can do to service people specifically displaying intimacy avoidance in romance. Adopting a critical realist perspective, this paper aims to disseminate a complementary lens to the psychological profession in approaching psychological therapy for this specific demographic. A thematic analysis carried out on ten semi-structured interviews with highly experienced practitioners revealed four themes relating to interventions employed in therapy; ‘Create awareness of avoidance and build psychological capacity to tolerate difficult emotions through process and techniques’, ‘Use self and the therapeutic relationship as a conduit to change avoidance patterns’, ‘Apply measured humanity to heal and restore trust in intimacy’ and ‘Contextual and conceptual positioning in therapy’. Sub-themes to each intervention are considered and their implications discussed.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: psychological therapy; dating; relationships; avoidant attachment; fear of intimacy; thematic analysis
Subjects: 600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
Department: School of Social Sciences and Professions
Depositing User: Mary Burslem
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2021 12:16
Last Modified: 26 Aug 2021 12:16
URI: http://repository.londonmet.ac.uk/id/eprint/6933

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