Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Russell Hurlburt

Second Committee Member

Chris Heavey

Third Committee Member

Michelle Paul

Fourth Committee Member

Wendy Hoskins

Number of Pages



Although psychotherapy outcome studies sometimes use qualitative methods (e.g., interviews and traditional sampling methods), the majority of those studies rely mainly on quantitative methods (e.g., retrospective self-report progress-monitoring questionnaires), even when investigating clients’ experience of treatment. However, there are reasons to believe that both qualitative and quantitative methods are substantially flawed—both interviews and self-report questionnaires investigating experience can yield substantially inconsistent findings in comparison to careful, descriptive sampling-based methods such as Descriptive Experience Sampling (DES). To date, there are neither qualitative nor quantitative published studies that explore the everyday, natural inner experience of psychotherapy clients. The current study used DES, a method designed to provide high-fidelity accounts of inner experience, as a step toward understanding the inner experience of psychotherapy clients in their natural environments. Eleven individuals, recruited from a community mental health center located on a university campus, participated in approximately eight days of DES sampling (sampling approximately once a week across eight weeks). This study was exploratory and the output was 11 case studies, each describing salient characteristics of the participant’s inner experience, diagnosis, presenting issues in psychotherapy, and psychotherapist’s impressions. Although the present study did not find a specific pattern or salient characteristic that characterized our sample, our findings suggest that individuals who seek psychotherapy may have noteworthy characteristics of inner experience that accompany their distress or contribute to their decision to seek psychotherapy services. The current study is basic science: we explored the inner experience of individuals who were receiving weekly psychotherapy and described what we found.


Descriptive Experience Sampling; Inner Experience; Nevada Inner Experience Questionnaire; Psychotherapy



File Format


File Size

2800 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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Psychology Commons