A therapeutic relationship with a difference : an exploration of the therapists experience of providing mandatory personal therapy to psychotherapy trainees

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Foley, Barbara
Issue Date
BA (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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Personal therapy in training is generally considered essential for psychotherapy practice and is often a mandatory requirement of the training. Studies suggest it is a beneficial process to go through, however, this is generally measured in terms of outcomes for clients. Very little research exists looking at the specific challenges to the therapeutic relationship and process of trainees in therapy. This qualitative study explored the experience of therapists providing training therapy to trainees and their perception of such challenges. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with five therapists. An inductive thematic analysis was performed which identified key themes in relation to the specific demands on the therapeutic relationship when working with trainees as opposed to nontrainees. The findings are discussed and highlight areas of concern in relation to the unique issues for both the trainee and therapist. The results show that trainees' experience specific challenges in their therapy that emanate from the training they are participating in such as, the mandatory aspect of therapy, pressure to progress in therapy and the challenge of integrating theory and knowledge and the experiential aspects of the training. The therapist has specific challenges in relation to pressure to model, being under scrutiny and increased responsibility for future therapists. Recommendations are made for future studies so as we can better understand the outcomes of training therapy for trainees as they navigate their way through the dual process of personal therapy and psychotherapy training. Author keywords: Psychotherapy, training therapy, personal therapy, therapy outcomes, trainee psychotherapists, mandatory therapy.