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Publication Detail
Mapping the journey from epistemic mistrust in depressed adolescents receiving psychotherapy
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Li E, Midgley N, Luyten P, Sprecher E, Campbell C
  • Publisher:
    American Psychological Association
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Journal of Counseling Psychology
  • Status:
  • Print ISSN:
  • Keywords:
    psychotherapy, epistemic trust, depression, adolescents, ideal type analysis
Although the theory of epistemic trust has started informing research in clinical populations and in psychotherapy, no study has yet explored the phenomenon of epistemic trust and mistrust in depressed adolescents receiving psychotherapy. The present study aims to address this gap by creating a typology of depressed adolescents’ experiences regarding their different journeys through the course of psychotherapy in relation to issues of epistemic trust and mistrust over a 2-year period. This study is based on a post-hoc analysis of interview data collected for a broader purpose. A total of 45 semi-structured interviews at 3 time points were conducted with 15 adolescents (80% female; M age = 15.28, SD = 1.79) who entered treatment with indications of epistemic mistrust or hypervigilance. These interviews were qualitatively analysed using Ideal Type Analysis. Three distinct journeys of adolescents’ experiences were identified. Some experienced a shift from epistemic mistrust to epistemic trust which seemed to be associated with the experience of therapy; other adolescents also showed a shift but did not consider it as an outcome of therapy; and finally, some adolescents reported continued mistrust over the 2-year period. An interpersonal component within or beyond therapy may be the key to breaking the vicious cycle of epistemic mistrust and generating epistemic trust; but not all depressed adolescents in therapy achieve this. Particular attention should be drawn to depressed adolescents who have difficulty making use of therapy and/or their broader social environment. Psychological interventions may need to openly address their issues of mistrust in early sessions as epistemic mistrust or hypervigilance may hinder paths to learning both within and beyond therapy. Treatments that intervene at the level of the wider social system are encouraged.
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Clinical, Edu & Hlth Psychology
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