Only-Child Research: the therapist as only-child

by on March 27, 2012

in Emails

Over the last ten years, of my own only-child adult research, I have also encouraged other people with theirs. Here is a piece of research Carla Preston is undertaking for her Psychotherapy MA. It is particularly specific to people in the profession of counselling and psychotherapy, so I hope anyone in that position will feel able to take part in this useful research so that we can continue to expand the knowledge of the only child experience. Bernice

Research Question

Being Everything:  An exploration into the relational impact on the therapy when a therapist is an only-child.  

Carla Preston

I am a Humanistic counsellor studying for my Masters in Integrative Psychotherapy and I am in the process of starting to write my thesis about the experience of therapists who are only-children.  My interest stems from my own work in therapy and discussion about my relating patterns which might be a result of my upbringing as an only child. As a child I felt and still as an adult I often feel a sense of guilt and responsibility for those close to me. This has inevitably entered into my work as a therapist and I receive feedback from supervisors that I tend to take too much responsibility for my client’s behaviour and feelings.

I would like to interview counsellors or psychotherapists with at least two years post qualifying experience, who are only children (which in this instance means not having any half siblings or siblings who have died). I will ask them about their experience of working with clients and explore if they feel their lack of siblings has had any impact on the relationship with their clients in terms of intimacy, contact and feelings of responsibility towards the client.

I plan to conduct semi-formal interviews, either in my own consulting room in North West London or I am willing to travel with-in reason to meet a participant somewhere they are comfortable in.  The interviews would take approximately 1 ½ hours and be recorded.

All material will be treated as confidential and I will provide comprehensive information about my ethical approach to my project. I will provide you with a participant’s information letter, a consent form and provide you with debriefing information

If you are interested to know more or would like to participate, please do get in touch. You can email me at Please put “research participant” in the title of the email.

  • Maya Zvigi Cohen

    Good Luck Carla!
    The link below may help in developing your thoughts about guilt and taking responsibility for others- I think that it helps in understanding guilt and responsibility which is linked to reality, and guilt and responsibility (or more accurately- a sense of duty) which is linked to omnipotence. I found that the book gives a creative and thoughtful account of what may happen between a parental couple and a child.
    I look forward to reading your findings.
    Maya (Zvigi Cohen) xx

    Britton, Ron, Feldman, Michael, and O’Shaughnessy, Edna. (1989). The Oedipus complex today. London: Karnac Books.

    • Carla

      Thank you Maya for your support and reading suggestion, I will look out the book you suggest. Carla

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