Saphira at DPsych

This blog is an attempt to describe the ongoing process of studying at a doctoral level, related to psychotherapy.

Dette er en blogg som beskriver veien inn og igjennom et doktorgrads studium, i dette tilfelle i psykoterapi.

What a Relief!

Doctorate in PsychotherapyPosted by Saphira Bjørnå Wahl Wed, July 18, 2012 14:13

One year has passed.. what a year! Since my previous blog early July 2011 much has taken place internally and externally not to mention on the national and international arena. The thread of my doctoral journey is steadily being woven even though the thread has been dangerously fragile at times.

After dispatching four papers with deadline end July 2011, all part of completing the Research Module, having survived the emotional devastation of the massacre of 22nd July, I patiently and nervously waited for the results.

Meanwhile I decided to participate at the ISAM (International Society for Addiction Medicine) conference in Oslo early September and learnt a lot about addiction medicine, but also the life of a researcher and the mentality and social codes of that particular universe of researchers. Central interpersonal unspoken themes seemed to consist of ‘achievements’, ‘quantitative research’, ‘titles’, ‘positions’, ‘positioning’ and ‘networking’. I did my little share of networking and had the pleasure of connecting with Norwegian and Israeli researchers within my field of interest which was hugely inspiring.

End September 2011 I received the verdict. I had passed on 3 out of 4 papers. The fourth received the dreaded result; ‘resubmission’. Shock! Now I had only one opportunity to improve it. I tried to pull myself together and started the tedious work of rewriting. I was well into the process when my father suffered a severe cardiac arrest in mid November. The studies were paused as my care and attention went to him. Miraculously he recovered and had a heart surgery the day before Christmas. I resumed my studies the last week of December 2011 and went back to days with up to 16 hours of study work. On New Years Eve I closed my computer at 01.30 am as I had finished the next version of the ‘Draft Research Proposal’ and sent it to my academic adviser. I soon had it returned with challenging feedback and more work to do. When it was finally submitted end May 2012 I think I had rewritten it 5 times. When it left my tired hands I felt I had done everything – everything I was capable of and that I had done my utmost. If I did not pass this time I felt I would have to accept that I was not worthy of being a candidate, but at least I had given it my best.

Parallel to studying and running my private practice, I was working in closed psychiatric ward which had been extremely challenging. This was partly due to the nature of the work itself but also due to reorganization amongst the 6 psychiatric units at the hospital causing uncertainty and unpredictability for the staff. This has caused great distress for me the last year and added to the pressure. Currently the universe seems to signal that it is time for me to move on to something else, and so I welcome new opportunities.

The International Psychosynthesis Conference in Rome, Italy in June 2012 has been a welcome source of inspiration and a wonderful opportunity to meet old and new colleagues and friends. It reconfirmed what I have felt so many times; I love psychosynthesis! Simple as that! At the conference I got the opportunity to present my research idea which was met with curiosity and enthusiasm.

End June 2012 I finally got the result of my resubmission and was congratulated on having passed the ‘Draft Research Proposal’ which was the last piece to complete the first part of the doctoral program, the Research Module. What a relief! All the blood, sweat and tears were worth it! I made it!!

Now the third year is soon approaching and so is the next deadline coming up mid October. Next on the agenda is completing the ‘Learning Agreement’ which is a detailed project plan for conducting the intended research and demonstrating the level of sophistication expected in doing so. This is to be handed in by 19th October and a few weeks later to be presented orally to the Program Approval Panel with representatives from Middlesex University in London. So, got to get my acts together and do the work!

The research focus has organically been developing in the prolongation of my interest and fascination with the paradox of the personal will versus a so called ‘higher will’ in substance use disorder and treatment, and so the formulation of my research focus is currently:

“A phenomenological exploration of the lived experience of surrendering to a Higher Power in the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step treatment of Substance Use Disorder.”

To be continued..

Wishing you a great summer,


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