Project on depression

This dissertation investigates trainee psychotherapists’ experiences of depression and any possible relations to their choice to train as therapists[1]. The intention of this research project is to elucidate personal meanings of the interviewed co-researchers in order to formulate some understanding based on the presented phenomena. The phenomena under investigation are the communicated experiences of trainees who have experienced depression in their life and now train as therapists. I approach the literature review from an integrative perspective while focusing on an existentially informed research methodology that utilizes the phenomenological method of enquiry2. An existential – phenomenological approach needs also to address the active presence and influence of the one who is conducting the research, based on the fundamental interrelatedness of every human experience. The core issues of this project is what depression might mean for other trainees and how their choice to train in psychotherapy might be associated to their experience of depression.


The hypothesis of this dissertation is based on my life experiences that support that there are links between one’s experience of depression and one’s motivations to train

as a therapist. In light of my training process, the choice to train as a therapist has also related to my intentions to better understand and manage my past depression, as well as create and recreate a meaningful experience of being alive in our world. There are important questions raised here in relation to this project: Is there such a link or any link at all between the co-researchers’ depression and their choice of training? How might be different with trainee therapists who have not experienced depression in their life? What about people who have experienced depression and have not embarked in this kind of work and training? This project will focus upon the first question together with an attempt to understand phenomenologically what depression might be for the seven trainee therapists who participated in this research, while acknowledging the significance for further research in order to cover other evoked questions.


Given the variety of meanings and understandings assigned to the word depression in our everyday language, amongst the diversity of human experience, this project focuses on clinical depression, which includes most if not all of the following characteristics: low mood, loss of interest in life, anxiety, emotional numbness, negative and conflicted thinking, high and unreasonable expectations, concentration and memory problems, delusions and suicidal thoughts (McKenzie, 2000). The coresearchers are trainees who have experienced serious depression in line with the DSM[2] IV clinical guidelines, trainees who have viewed themselves as depressed over a period or periods in their life. The DSM IV criteria are used as reference and starting points in terms of research clarity and structure; however the intention of this study is to investigate subjective experiences and to unfold personal meanings in relation to

the co-researchers’ depression.

online counselling.

[1] The term therapist is used throughout the dissertation as an umbrella term for psychotherapist, counsellor, clinical and counselling psychologist; the researcher and co-researchers identify with at least one of these terms. 2 Further information in sections 3.1 & 3.2.

[2] The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is an American handbook for mental health professionals that lists different categories of mental disorders and the criteria for diagnosing them, according to the publishing organization the American Psychiatric Association. It is used worldwide by clinicians and researchers as well as insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and policy makers. Iformation taken from: