Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Schools and Centres

Arts & Sciences

First Supervisor

Caroline Bulsara

Second Supervisor

Patrick O'Brien


Counselling clients display many ways of reflecting and communicating within therapy. Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences (MI), while applied widely in the field of education, has only recently been applied to the field of counselling, and has the potential to support flexible responses to client’s different styles. In this study, counsellor experiences with introducing a MI approach to counselling are investigated. A focus on the impact of MI on therapeutic alliances is highlighted as therapeutic connection has been shown to contribute significantly to positive therapy outcomes. Recent research highlights the positive impact from modifying treatment in response to individual client needs and interests, and this has led to emerging interest in eclectic practice. Gaining information on clients’ preferred intelligences, or natural strengths, enhances counsellors’ ability to tailor treatment to individual needs and abilities, and can provide a meta-theory to underpin eclectic practice.

This qualitative enquiry utilised semi-structured interview technique to gather data before, and three months after, a multiple intelligence training intervention. Transcripts were analysed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis, which produced a number of major themes representative of counsellors’ experiences with a MI approach to counselling. It is hypothesised that the results will provide contributions that enhance the training, practice and supervision of counsellors.