Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly, Psychotherapy, Attention, Positive psychology, Qualitative research, Flow, Optimal experience


This study's purpose was to understand how licensed clinical social workers described their optimal experience when they are engaged in clinical practice. The specific focus of this study was to conduct interviews to obtain subjective narrative descriptions of these experiences. The question was based on the theoretical model of flow, a state of mind where one is wholly absorbed in the moment. Data reflected that the social connection between the therapist and client was the strongest indicator of optimal experience. Data from this study showed evidence that participating licensed clinical social workers described their optimal experience in practice within the same language framework that Csikszentmihalyi (1988) and contemporaries used to define and explain flow. The data adds to existing qualitative studies in which optimal human experiences are described using the language framework of flow theory. Therapeutic applications of flow through mindfulness and visualization practices are explored in the discussion section of this paper.




iv, 65 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2015. Includes bibliographical references (pages 53-59)