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Dissertation Defence: A Reflexively Autocatalytic Network Model of Therapists’ Experience of ‘Change’ in Psychotherapy

June 5 at 9:00 am - 1:00 pm

Kirthana Ganesh will defend their dissertation.

Kirthana Ganesh, supervised by Dr. Liane Gabora, will defend their dissertation titled “A Reflexively Autocatalytic Network Model of Therapists’ Experience of ‘Change’ in Psychotherapy” in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology.

An abstract for Kirthana Ganesh’d dissertation is included below.

Examinations are open to all members of the campus community as well as the general public. Registration is not required for in person exams.


Despite empirical consensus on the efficacy of psychotherapy and the importance of the therapeutic alliance on outcomes, research about the constructs of ‘therapeutic alliance’ and ‘change’ in psychotherapy are fragmented, with nebulous descriptions. The present study sought to use the Reflexively Autocatalytic Foodset-Generated Networks (RAFs); a mathematical framework for modelling emergent network growth that enables us to formally describe how new ideas and perspectives can emerge from existing elements of a cognitive network. Four graduate student clinicians were interviewed about their experiences with practicing psychotherapy, and the results were qualitatively analysed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis. The definition of psychotherapy, the therapeutic alliance and its measurement, preparation for sessions, and ‘change’ in psychotherapy emerged as four major themes. The formation of the therapeutic alliance, creation of case conceptualisation, and specific examples of change were mathematically described and illustrated using RAFs. The thesis explores implications of the findings in expanding our knowledge about the cognitive underpinnings of the psychotherapy process, as well as the teaching, and training of psychotherapy.


June 5
9:00 am - 1:00 pm


University Centre (UNC)
3272 University Way
Kelowna, BC V1V 1V7 Canada
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Additional Info

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Registration/RSVP Required
Event Type
Thesis Defence
Arts and Humanities, Health, Research and Innovation
Alumni, Community, Faculty, Staff, Families, Partners and Industry, Students, Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Associates