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An Incidental Group Therapy: Reflections on an Auto/Biographical Research Study

In this paper you will hear stories from my position as a Ph.D. fellow. My roles are that of researcher, but also as group facilitator in a conversation- and writing process between nine mothers. My research approach is auto/biography, and I am therefore also a full participant and protagonist in my own study.

So, how could a group therapy be incidental? It was research, but at times it felt like deeply meaningful therapy. What I planned was a few data-gathering conversations on Maternal Identity as part of my Ph.D. project. From the very first group meeting, these conversations unfolded as an unplanned group therapeutic process rather than mere conversations between a few mothers. This was unplanned, as I was supposed to be the researcher and a full participant – nót the therapist – in my study.

I believe that the researcher’s experience of their study, including relationships with all research participants and supervisors, has a profound impact on their written work, their outputs. This belief urges me to take note of my experiences, to write them down, and to tell the stories.

Presentation Type
Paper/Oral Presentation
Language of Presentation
About Speaker

Esther Miriam van der Walt

I have been in clinical psychology practice since 2010, always with a deep interest in groups and their hidden dynamic underworlds. I am currently reading towards a Ph.D. on Maternal Identity at UNIMORE, Italy. My genetic disposition is to challenge, perpetrate, stir, overthrow. My auto/biography research approach allows me that.
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