Embodied self-awareness among South African social services therapist-practitioners: An exploratory study

Published in: Journal of Psychology in Africa
Volume 27, issue 6, 2017 , pages: 564–568
DOI: 10.1080/14330237.2017.1399554
Author(s): Colleen Angela PotgieterCCYF, COMPRES, Faculty of Health Sciences, South Africa, Cornelia Hesther Margaretha BloemCCYF, COMPRES, Faculty of Health Sciences, South Africa


We explored South African social service therapist-practitioners’ experiences of their own lived body in the context of practice. The participants consisted of a convenience sample of 13 therapist-practitioners registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa and the South African Council for Social Service Professions, in private practice (n = 9) or government departments (n = 4) in the Western Cape and Gauteng Provinces of South Africa. They provided data on their embodied self-awareness by means of naïve sketches and/or drawings, experiential body awareness activities, and in-depth one-on-one semi-structured interviews. Findings from the thematic analysis of the data indicated bodily self-awareness; including experiences of bodily felt sensations while doing therapy, intuitive knowing, a sense of warning/ danger, and a sense of the body-schema-in-relation. Most of the therapist-practitioners reported a tendency to deny, suppress, or control their sensory cues or to rationalise them. Embodied self-awareness appears to be a true phenomenon among South African therapist-practitioners.

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