Brian T. Hannigan, Ph.D., is a 2023 graduate of the PhD Program in Marriage and Family Therapy at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Markie L. C. Twist, PhD, Committee Chair
  • Bryson Greaves, PhD, Committee Member
  • Stephen Fife, PhD, Committee Member


curiosity, wonder, therapeutic pyramid, common factors, deductive qualitative analysis

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Theoretical and anecdotal accounts highlight the power of curiosity within the therapeutic process of particular models of therapy, with specific influences noted in regard to forming, maintaining, and evolving intra- and interpersonal relationships. The mention of curiosity in the therapeutic process is not surprising given its profound and evidence-based influence on the promotion of relationships and influence on social-emotional health and well-being. What is surprising however, is the lack of comprehensive review and exploration into how exactly curiosity is being conceptually used within and across therapeutic models. Additionally, such a review is missing in terms of whether curiosity is model dependent or is perhaps an integral piece of the larger therapeutic common factors’ movement. To address this aforementioned gap between curiosity and the therapeutic process, I (BTH) and my research team (T.B. and M.F.) reviewed 28 book length texts that encompassed seven different theoretical approaches to therapy. An explanatory sequential mixed methods design was utilized, wherein quantitative data showed that the included language of curiosity was used 773 times between the 28 included texts. These 773 data points were then analyzed through a deductive qualitative process based on the sensitizing constructs of the therapeutic pyramid. Throughout this analysis, curiosity was most commonly coded as being a skill/technique, with additional coding of the therapeutic alliance and a way of being. The therapeutic pyramid was efficacious in describing the various functions of curiosity. However, upon further review and analysis, the research team's conceptualization of curiosity was refined to two primary themes: connection and challenge. It is within each of these two headings where the value of curiosity lies across therapeutic modalities, as curiosity independently or simultaneously served as a conceptual tool for promoting connection and relationships while also functioning as an agent of challenge, growth, and change.


Brian T. Hannigan

ORCID Scholar ID# 0009-0000-7941-0747