Inviting intimacy: The interview as a therapeutic opportunity

Birch, Maxine and Miller, Tina (2000). Inviting intimacy: The interview as a therapeutic opportunity. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 3(3) pp. 189–202.



This paper explores an aspect of the use of qualitative interviewing methods in researching sensitive and private aspects of people's lives. Using examples from two research projects that involved inviting participants to narrate their experiences of personal transition, the dilemmas encountered in doing this type of 'intimate' research are explored. By creating a space in which participants were invited to, and felt able to, narrate their personal experiences, both researchers found they shared a sense of what had constituted a 'successful' interview. This was one where the personal narratives constructed gave a distinct sense of a 'real' self through self-disclosure. Yet feelings of responsibility for acts of self-disclosure were experienced differently by the researchers. When the boundaries between doing sensitive feminist research and what other 'experts' do-counselling and therapy-became blurred the researchers reacted in different ways. This raises questions about the co-producing role of the sensitive feminist interviewer and prompts consideration of the ways in which qualitative interviewers are prepared for data collection in research. Can the invitation to narrate past and present experiences, together with future hopes, avoid offering potential therapeutic opportunities?

Viewing alternatives


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions
No digital document available to download for this item

Item Actions