Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Brain-Wounds and injuries-Diagnosis, Brain-Wounds and injuries-Psychological aspects, Mental illness-Treatment, Mental illness-Etiology, Diagnostic errors, Qualitative research, Empirical, Experiences of brain injury survivors as clients in psychotherapy, Specific psychotherapeutic needs of clients with brain injury, Best practices for treating clients with brain injuries, Screening for brain injury, Misdiagnosis, Culture of toughness, Concussion, Traumatic brain injury (TBI)


This study explored the experiences of brain injury survivors as clients in psychotherapy in order to learn whether mental health professionals are properly screening for brain injuries, the factors that may inhibit mental health professionals from screening, the factors that may inhibit clients from disclosing their histories of brain injuries; to identify the psychotherapeutic needs specific to clients living with brain injuries; and to identify the best means of serving this client population. Nine adult brain injury survivors, ranging in age from 29-70, answered nine openended research questions during one of three focus groups. One participant was interviewed individually. Participants provided information regarding whether their psychotherapists had screened them for brain injuries; whether they chose to disclose their brain injuries, as well as their motivation to do so or not to do so; whether brain injury was discussed in session, and what some of these discussions looked like; which aspects of psychotherapy and interventions they found helpful and unhelpful; and in what ways psychotherapists did and did not attend to their specific psychotherapeutic needs around brain injury. The findings support the importance of rapport with the psychotherapist, a feeling of validation, and the need for mental health professionals to inquire about brain injury. The participants of this study outlined their specific psychotherapeutic needs as well as the best means by which they may be supported and treated by mental health professionals.




iii, 74 pages : color illustrations. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2015. Includes bibliographical references (pages 48-53)