The role of sleep and sleep disorders in the therapeutic encounter: An IPA investigation

Cross, E., Ellis, Jason and Draghi-Lorenz, R. (2009) The role of sleep and sleep disorders in the therapeutic encounter: An IPA investigation. In: 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, 6-11 June 2009, Seattle, Washington.

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Introduction: It is often the case that individuals enter into a therapy during, or directly following, a stressful life event. Considering one of the most consistent events during this time is an acute disruption in sleep, it is important to know how this is assessed and managed within the therapeutic encounter. Furthermore, a lack of training in sleep medicine within the UK questions what advice and support is provided when a client presents with a sleep complaint, either acute or chronic. The aim of this study was to examine how counseling psychologists addressed sleep medicine within the therapeutic encounter.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were carried out with a sample of eight chartered counseling psychologists recruited through their registration with the British Psychological Society (BPS). The study examined in-depth the perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs of counseling psychologists about sleep and sleep disorders, how this applied to their therapeutic practice, and what had informed this understanding. The interviews were recorded and transcribed. The transcripts were analyzed using an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis approach, based on the constant comparison technique.

Results: Four core themes emerged from the data. The first encompassed sleep disruption as a symptom of an underlying illness or pathology; the second, a sleep disorder as an index of psychological well being. The third category was practice-based evidence, and the final category was called non-intention to treat. In each case, the category was informed by levels of exposure to supplementary courses, previous ‘trial and error’ attempts, and personal experiences.

Conclusion: The results suggest that levels of knowledge about sleep medicine in the UK, amongst counseling psychologists, varies widely, and this is mainly informed by media interpretations and lay beliefs, as opposed to a taught evidence base. Future directions, in terms of training in sleep medicine are forwarded, and areas of misinformation are identified.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Subjects: C800 Psychology
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Linda Barlow
Date Deposited: 01 May 2012 16:03
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2020 14:43

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