• Isabel Gibbard

Student thesis: Phd


AbstractThe aim of this qualitative research project was to investigate the experiences of clients who had received Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Person Centred Therapy (PCT) in primary care. The rationale for the investigation was to inform the assessment and referral process whereby prospective clients are assigned to the two different therapies.A total of 16 clients responded to an invitation to attend an unstructured interview (PCT = 9; CBT = 7) to talk about their experiences of therapy. The resulting transcripts were analysed using Grounded Theory methodology. Transcripts were broken down into meaning units and conceptualised as categories, using the constant comparison method. The categories were integrated, a core category conceptualised and a theory generated. A comparison of the accounts revealed similar and contrasting experiences. The main categories (eg Accessing therapy, Engaging with the therapy) could be organised in the chronological order of the client`s journey through therapy. All participants entered therapy with a particular view of reality. In successful therapy this view changed and they went on to manage their lives in a more constructive way. Participants attributed this change to different elements of the therapy (categorised as It did the trick) which brought about a new understanding (categorised as The key). Where therapy was unsuccessful this did not occur. The mechanism of change was personal to the individual and did not appear to be specific to either therapy. Some of the mechanisms appeared to be consistent with the therapy received (eg. Carrying out tasks, in the CBT group). Others appeared counterintuitive (eg. Putting me straight, in the PCT group). The differences and similarities in the participant`s experiences appeared to be due to the therapist and client`s capacity to respond to each other in order to make the therapy "work." The Core Category, Reciprocal Responsiveness, was chosen to explain this. The findings also suggest that the ability of the therapist and client to respond to each other will affect the outcome of therapy. The theory was constructed that the outcome of therapy is determined by the occurrence of a sufficient degree of Reciprocal Responsiveness.This study has implications for the assessment process as the findings suggests that, when making a referral, it may be helpful, to take into account the potential client`s activity and responsiveness rather than relying solely on diagnosis. It also contributes to the growing body of literature emphasising the importance of therapist responsiveness to the individual needs of the client, rather than strict adherence to one therapeutic approach. The study is limited to two therapies within primary care. Future studies may consider clients experiences within other settings and with other therapeutic approaches.
Date of Award31 Dec 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorTerry Hanley (Supervisor) & Olwen Mcnamara (Supervisor)


  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Person-Centred Therapy
  • Client`s experience
  • Grounded Theory

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