An interview study investigating experiences of psychological change without psychotherapy

Timothy Carey

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    31 Citations (Scopus)


    Objectives. Given that most people who experience psychological distress resolve this distress without the assistance of psychotherapy, the study sought to increase our understanding of naturally occurring change including the facilitators of this change. Design: The study sought to replicate and extend earlier work in this area. The design involved recruiting participants who had experienced some form of psychological distress and had resolved this distress without accessing psychotherapy services. Methods: Qualitative methods were used for this study because the lived experience of the participants was of interest. Semi-structured interviews were used following a pro forma developed in earlier work. Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis was the analytical method adopted for this study to identify themes and patterns in the transcripts of the interviews of the participants. Results: Data analysis identified the themes of identity, connection, threshold, desire to change, change as a sudden and gradual process, and thinking process. An unexpected finding was the subjectivity associated with deciding whether or not a problem had actually resolved. Conclusions: The results are discussed in terms of their implications for clinical practice including the apparent importance of people reaching an emotional threshold prior to change. A sense of identity also appears to be important in change experiences. © 2011 The British Psychological Society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)442-457
    Number of pages16
    JournalPsychology and Psychotherapy
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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