Login (DCU Staff Only)
Login (DCU Staff Only)

DORAS | DCU Research Repository

Explore open access research and scholarly works from DCU

Advanced Search

A discourse analysis of psychotherapists’ account of their work with people who are taking prescribed anti-depressant medication.

Mulligan, Nigel (2015) A discourse analysis of psychotherapists’ account of their work with people who are taking prescribed anti-depressant medication. Doctor of Psychotherapy thesis, Dublin City University.

Rates of depression are growing worldwide. Depression usually involves symptoms such as negative thinking, feelings of helplessness and a loss of energy and it can also affect physical ill health. The causes of depression can be attributed to a number of interrelated factors including biological, psychological and social elements. Recommended treatment interventions for symptoms of depression include anti-depressant medication and psychotherapy. Certain anti-depressants can cause unpleasant side effects with some people. There is little research or literature investigating the clinical observations and insights of psychotherapists regarding the impact of anti-depressant medication on their work and the potential issues therein. Within this Discourse Analysis study, individual interviews were carried out with seven psychotherapists from varied therapeutic orientations. The semi-structured interviews enquired as to whether and how psychotherapists make any adjustments to their therapeutic approach when working with people taking anti-depressant medication. The transcribed interviews were analysed using a Lacanian Discourse Analysis (LDA) method. Section one of the findings found diverse experiences of working with clients and emerging conflict in application of their theoretical model to clinical practice. Section two examines operative discourses shaping the participants speech; these included the dialectic between ‘psychology and biology’, ‘discourses on depression’ and the discourses on ‘the body’. Section three of the findings is entitled the ‘shared medical world’ and it encapsulates the multiple conscious and unconscious relationships when working with clients and the different roles that a psychotherapist can embody. This study highlighted some of the complexities when working with symptoms of depression and potential effects of medication but emphasises the importance of therapists to critically situate themselves in a position that they can attend to the meaning of the medication for themselves and the client in the therapeutic relationship. The psychotherapist can take into account what the client knows of his or her own symptoms, medication and recovery; but the therapist also needs to hold a flexible hypothesis and situate themselves somewhere on the ‘continuum of positions’ and critically consider what therapeutic model and skills are appropriate in light of the presenting client. This research has implications for psychotherapists in collaboration with medical practitioners for treating depression, and recommends that psychotherapy is a prioritised treatment for all cases of depression over antidepressant medication, but if anti-depressant medications are prescribed, it is important that psychotherapy is offered. This research offers a therapeutic lens for conceptualising and working with clients who have symptoms of depression and taking anti-depressant medication. There are also implications for future research related to this area of work.
Item Type:Thesis (Doctor of Psychotherapy)
Date of Award:March 2015
Supervisor(s):Moore, Gerard and Matthews, Anne
Uncontrolled Keywords:Psychotherapy; Depression; Treatment
DCU Faculties and Centres:DCU Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science and Health > School of Nursing and Human Sciences
Use License:This item is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License. View License
ID Code:20419
Deposited On:16 Apr 2015 13:09 by Anne Matthews . Last Modified 19 Jul 2018 15:05

Full text available as:

[thumbnail of Nigel_Mulligan.pdf]
PDF - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader


Downloads per month over past year

Archive Staff Only: edit this record