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“Sharing in people’s pain is not an easy thing to do”: Cognitive Behavioural Therapists’ understandings of compassion in the workplace

Broadley, Laurien, BURTON, Amy and Mistry, Dipti (2023) “Sharing in people’s pain is not an easy thing to do”: Cognitive Behavioural Therapists’ understandings of compassion in the workplace. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research. ISSN 1473-3145

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Abstract or description

Objectives: Compassion is central to the aim of improving patient care and staff wellbeing within healthcare. To inform service development, explorations of experiences and meanings of compassion are needed. This study explored Cognitive Behavioural Therapists' understandings of compassion within their work environment.

Design: A qualitative study was conducted using semi-structured interviews and Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA).

Methods: Data were obtained from five practicing Cognitive Behavioural Therapists.
Results: Two superordinate themes were developed each with two subordinate themes. CBT therapists reported entering the profession with intrinsic motivation to care for others. They further developed an interest in compassion with exposure to clients and ongoing professional development in Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT). Compassionate work environments helped to facilitate compassionate practice, however for many, workplaces were perceived to lack compassion. Challenges were encountered when negative workplace interactions left therapists feeling fatigued, distressed, and demoralized. There was a desire for recognition and to be seen as more than a ‘work machine’, the experience of which was a threat to retaining therapists within the profession.

Conclusions: Current recruitment and training processes are producing staff with skills and motivation to deliver compassionate care. However, lack of compassion within workplaces can be a barrier to actioning these skills and motivations. Research needs to focus on how to effectively implement and run systems which are compassionate for both staff and clients. To provide compassionate care, staff need work environments which show compassion to them. These findings provide some insights and practical suggestions regarding how this can be achieved.

Item Type: Article
Faculty: School of Life Sciences and Education > Psychology and Counselling
Depositing User: Amy BURTON
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2022 16:27
Last Modified: 03 Apr 2023 15:21

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