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On the Professional Identity Process of Postmodern Therapists
The purposes of this research were as follows: (1) To explore the unique personal stories of the professional identity of postmodern therapists; (2) to explore the unique personal process of the professional identity of postmodern therapists; (3) to explore the common connotation of the professional identity process of postmodern therapists; (4) to explore the commonality of the professional identity process of postmodern therapists; and (5) to explore the common influencing factors of the professional identity process of postmodern therapists. On the basis of above purposes, 5 postmodern therapists were invited for semi-structured in-depth interview through purposive sampling. Then by means of an open coding, the interview materials were summarized and analyzed. Among 5 postmodern therapists, 2 of them were males and 3 were females, all aged over 40 years old. 1 of them had engaged in work for 7 years after obtaining the certification, while the remaining for more than 10 years. In addition, all of them had engaged in the professional identity of postmodern approaches for over 10 years. The research results could be divided into five major aspects: Firstly, unique stories of the postmodern professional identity of interviewed therapists, which were presented in a chronological manner. Secondly, unique process of the postmodern professional identity of interviewed therapists, in which the core development tasks, main emotions, roles and working styles and the sense of consulting effectiveness in each stage were presented. Thirdly, common connotation of the postmodern professional identity of interviewed therapists, namely: (1) Connotation analysis of the postmodern approaches, including helping concepts, consulting relations, consulting goals, consulting technologies, change mechanism and unique charm; and (2) connotation analysis of the professional identity of postmodern therapists, including cognitive level, emotional level and behavioral level. Fourthly, commonality of the postmodern professional identity process of interviewed therapists, namely: (1) Prelude: the interviewed therapists all started with modern consulting training; (2) three core development tasks: to deconstruct modernism and construct postmodernism; to promote postmodernism and make postmodern concept and practice clearer through practice; to integrate culture, self and postmodernism; (3) main emotions: positive emotions, including pleasure, excitement, moving, satisfaction and calm; negative emotions, including irritability, worry and frustration; (4) roles and working style: from sporadic application of postmodernism to systematic application of postmodernism; from postmodernism of technical skills to postmodernism of internal thinking; from following content on books and teachers’ practices to flexibility application and even a personal style; (5) consulting effectiveness: an overall rising trend, and the indicators of effectiveness assessment, including the ability to carry out dialogue; the ability to establish and maintain consulting relations; and feedback from various external parties; and (6) process naming: a process that was getting closer to oneself. Fifthly, common influencing factors of the postmodern professional identity process of interviewed therapists, namely: (1) Internal factors: the postmodern helping concept was highly compatible with the internal beliefs of the interviewed therapists; (2) environmental structural factors: including support from postmodern supervisors, teachers, and peer communities, as well as the acceptance of external environment to postmodernism; (3) personal experience factors: oppression experience or illness experience, which promoted the interviewed therapists to enter the postmodern interior, deconstruct and construct, as well as maintain the possibility of openness; and (4) professional experience factors: interaction experience with the client and experience of promoting postmodernism, which consolidated the postmodern professional identity of the interviewed therapists. The discussion of this study could also be divided into two main aspects: Firstly, core development tasks: trend integration, namely: (1) The integration of self and postmodern approaches, and it meant the integration of professional roles and personal characteristics among interviewed therapists, which echoed the cognitive-level connotation of the professional identity of postmodern therapists; and (2) the integration of culture and postmodern approaches; it often occurred in the middle and late stages of the postmodern professional identity process, which was not only related to conflict and frustration experience, but also to the promotion of postmodern core development tasks. Secondly, challenges and transcendence of the professional identity process of postmodern therapists, namely: (1) The challenge of professional identity was characterized by necessity and importance, and the completion of identity should be based on “exploration” and “commitment”, as well as the transcendence of professional identity might lead to a further sense of professional identity; and (2) in the process of professional identity, and it was inevitably for postmodern therapists to encounter all kinds of external doubts; and although doubts had their resources, there were also three ways for transcendence; and (3) modernism deconstruction and postmodernism construction both represented core development tasks and process challenges; the challenge of deconstruction lay in the balance between modernism and postmodernism; the challenge of construction lay in the truly understanding of the connotation of postmodernism and the application of postmodernism to professional roles playing; in terms of transcending the challenge, one could find two major ways, namely outward and inward. Finally, the researcher proposed the research limitations based on the results and discussions. In addition, the researcher also put forward relevant suggestions for the education and training of novice therapists, the professional development of postmodern therapists, and future research directions. Keywords: postmodern approaches, professional identity, therapists
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