What does a committed practitioner of yoga bring to their profession as a practicing psychotherapist?

Author
Brian Whiter
Publication Date
01st Aug 2015
Award
MSc in Psychotherapy Studies

Abstract

This study aims to discover what impact yoga has on the practicing psychotherapist, the reasons for committing to yoga practice and how it influences their work as a psychotherapist. It explores the meaning that yoga has on their lives, personally and professionally. Using semi-structured interviews, the study collected data from four registered and experienced therapists who had committed themselves to yoga practice for a number of years, at the same time working as psychotherapists. A descriptive phenomenological approach has been used to collect and examine the data and report on the experience of the psychotherapists. 

This study is viewed from an existential perspective with relevant references included in the discussion in support of this perspective. The study found a significant lack of literature specifically accounting for a psychotherapist’s experience in the context of being a committed practitioner of yoga. The results of the study indicate that the practitioners reported no concerns or difficulties arising out of their yoga practice in relation to influencing their practice as a psychotherapist. The study concludes that yoga practice has a profound impact on the participants, personally and professionally. The philosophy and practice of yoga enabled a deeper sense of awareness, with themselves and in the encounter with their clients. This way of being was constituted by a number of factors reported by them as being conscious of something bigger than their sense of self, being more deeply embodied, and having a greater sense of authenticity and relatedness in their personal lives and professional work as psychotherapists. 

Whilst yoga has been widely acknowledged to being beneficial to an individual, it remains under researched in its potential to contribute to the therapists’ own development and the delivery of psychotherapy. 

Key terms/words: psychotherapy and yoga, yoga psychotherapist, existential psychotherapy. 

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