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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Becoming a self-compassionate counsellor : a narrative inquiry Patsiopoulos, Ariadne Theodora


Current literature suggests that the compassion that even seasoned counsellors offer to their clients is often unavailable for themselves. It also recommends that counsellors practise self-compassion to promote self-caring behaviours. Yet, the emerging quantitative research on self-compassion does not inquire into counsellor development. To fill this gap, in this study I explored how experienced counsellors have developed self-compassion and how they practise it professionally. Using a narrative research design, I interviewed individuals who counsel in Canada and analyzed their narrative accounts using holistic-content and content-categorical approaches (Lieblich, Tuval-Mashiach, & Zilber, 1998). The resulting 15 narratives provide compelling perspectives on the developmental trajectories of the participants, practical applications of self-compassion in the workplace, and an array of meanings attributed to self-compassion. Seven developmental themes emerged, which are “Ongoing Journey”-ing; Learning Through the School of “Hard Knocks”; “Who Am I?”: Understanding Self/ves; Influences of Spirituality and/or Religion; Therapy and “Complementary” Healing Practices; Opening to Compassionate Beings and/or Role Models; and Being a Compassionate Presence and/or Role Model. The ways in which the participants practise self-compassion in the workplace fell into three domains: in session, relationally in the workplace, and through the implementation of self-care strategies in their personal lives. The findings of this study reveal important information for counsellor training and education in the areas of self-care and burnout prevention, and enhanced counselling practice.

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