Student Services Overview

DATE: Sunday, July 27, 2014
TIME: 1:00 p.m
PLACE: Studio, Lambert Road campus
DISSERTATION TITLE: "Transformations in the Therapist’s Psyche Through Working With Borderline Patients"
CHAIR: Dr. Lisa Sloan
READER: Dr. Christine Lewis
EXTERNAL READER: Dr. Robin Kissell

Peled, I. (2014). Transformations in the Therapist’s Psyche Through Working With Borderline Patients (Doctoral dissertation, Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2014)


The purpose of this phenomenological study is to increase understanding of what therapists encounter and learn about their own psyche as a result of their work with borderline patients. The overarching goal of this research explores the impact of these relationships on the therapist’s psyche in order to generate information that can be utilized in the training process of therapists who work with BPD patients as well as to elicit information that possibly be useful to families, parents, and partners of people diagnosed with BPD. The self-knowledge accumulated by therapists in regards to their own process can inform others engaged in a relationship with borderline patients. The researcher investigated the lived experience of six seasoned therapists through in person, individual interviews. The interviews were analyzed using phenomenological data analysis methods to gain an understanding of the lived experience of each participant as well as for identifying themes shared across participants. All of the participants in this study had an increased awareness and recognition of material emerging from the unconscious as a result of their work with BPD. Core themes that emerged in relation to the participant’s experience included realizations of their own inner complexes such as the destroyer, the dark shadow of the self. Participants’ experience included inner realizations such as getting in touch with loss and grief and having to be fully authentic. Metabolizing these emerging inner realizations allowed participants to report experiences of integration and shifts in relation to the self, shifts in relationship with death, recognition of personal limitations, becoming humbled and centered, increased curiosity and courage, and a newly acquired sense of playfulness and freedom. All of the six participants were able to recognize unconscious aspects of the self that were activated as a result of the work with borderline patients. Three participants enjoyed working with BPD and felt their patients experienced improvement which contributed to the therapists’ sense of satisfaction and reward from the work.


Please note: All oral defense attendees must shuttle to the Lambert Road campus from the Best Western Hotel in Carpinteria. Parking on campus is not available.