An exploration of authenticity: implications for clinical psychologists and their practice

PhD Thesis

Brazil, J. 2016. An exploration of authenticity: implications for clinical psychologists and their practice. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology
AuthorsBrazil, J.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDClinPsychol

The present study explored how authenticity is constructed by clinical psychologists and asked what might be the implications of these discourses. The study is concerned with offering a focus on the making of authenticity in discourse as well as providing an understanding of the complexity of authenticity within clinical psychology.

The study used a discourse analytic approach known as critical discursive psychology to examine clinical psychologists’ talk of authenticity. Participants included twelve qualified clinical psychologists working in adult mental health services who took part in semi-structured interviews.

Following a detailed critical discursive analysis of the texts, four discourses were identified with regard to the construction of authenticity. These discourses were commonly used to construct authenticity in extremely positive terms, however, some participants did draw attention to an ideological dilemma of authenticity versus professionalism.
Participants used authenticity to establish their identity and manage their relationships with service users, colleagues and institutions. Drawing upon psychotherapeutic and professional discourses positioned participants as having power and being more authentic than others. Authenticity was problematised in relation to the participants need for professional boundaries.

It is suggested that psychologists internalise dominant discourses of authenticity from the profession of clinical psychology, which is itself influenced by wider societal discourses around what it means to be authentic or inauthentic. Extra-discursive factors including institutions and embodiment were found to influence and constrain available discourses. The limitations of this study’s research findings are discussed as well as implications for future research and clinical psychology practice.

KeywordsAuthenticity, clinical psychologists, discourse analysis, critical discursive psychology, professional roles
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Publication process dates
Deposited04 Nov 2016
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
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