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.

Fast Track to the Viva

Doctorate in PsychotherapyPosted by Saphira Bjørnå Wahl Sat, March 08, 2014 17:57

After having returned from a wonderfully spring warm and sunny March London having received approval of my project plan or so called Learning Agreement and crossed the bridge to the final part of the doctorate, writing this next post comes with much joy and gratitude.

Soon approaching one year since my last post the process has moved along significantly. Life was up for a personal transition the last year, relocating me to a new home and moving my private psychotherapy practice to a different location. These transitions are amongst other blessings that have entered my life this year. I had a sense that 2013 had something exciting up the sleeve for me but still it took me by surprise.

Now well back into the doctorate I am sooo happy to find myself at a point where I am launching into the 2nd and last module of the doctorate and will shortly be doing the actual research. It has been a long and arduous journey but the research project plan or so called Learning Agreement has finally been accepted by Middlesex University / Metanoia Institute. This constitutes the long awaited ‘green light’ to do research. The working title of my doctoral research and development project is:

An investigation of the dynamics of the personal will

versus a Higher Power in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

12-step treatment of Substance Use Disorder (SUD)

I am so eager to continue I find it hard to sit still. The excitement that made me apply for the doctorate in the first place (2010) has resurfaced and I can’t wait to conduct the interviews and dive into the data and start the actual analysis which will be such an interesting journey of discovery. I am absolutely fascinated by the phenomenon of the will and especially related to 12-step treatment and program of substance abuse. Now, why is this?

Well, there is little research found connected to the paradoxical phenomenon found in AA and 12-step treatment of ‘surrender’ signifying the shift from 'willfulness' to 'willingness'. Even if there have been developed measurement devices by researchers to measure the degree of surrender or degrees of spiritual transformation at different stages of treatment to predict relapse, almost noone has gone in depth with how this relates to the dynamics of the personal will in treatment of SUD in this context.

I would think it is rather central and important to understand more about how our will works related to substance abuse treatment. Some of the questions I pose are the following: What are the psychological mechanisms present with the perceived idea of giving a benevolent force authority over one’s personal will? What are the dynamics of the will resulting from the perceived idea of an external or internal power taking authority? What knowledge can be derived from the lived experience of deciding to surrender one’s will and life to a higher power (AA 3rd step)? If I decide to surrender my will, who in me is making the decision?

I have chosen a qualitative approach and use phenomenological methodology. I will shortly collect data through in depth interviews with eight participants and then start analyzing the data using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Gosh, I’ve been longing to get here…

So ‘In Depth Interviews’ is the next stop on the doctoral express train towards my final destination:

The Viva in London 2015 (viva in Norwegian: disputas)

Till next time - enjoy spring!

Picture taken in London 7th March 2014

(top photo; Embankment skyline, London)

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