A psychotherapeutic exploration of the impact of personal therapy on trainee therapists

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Boal, Christine
Issue Date
MA in Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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Personal therapy for trainee therapists is not always mandatory within psychotherapy and counselling training courses or for membership of the accrediting organisations, therefore some trainees may never choose to engage in this. A large amount of the literature and research carried out into the effects of personal therapy on professional and personal outcomes asserts that it is beneficial, if not crucial to the practicing therapist as it increases the self- awareness needed for healthy attunement to the client’s and the therapist’s needs and vulnerabilities. Most of the available research into the impact of personal therapy is with practicing therapists, mainly from a counselling psychology modality. This research explores the impact of personal therapy in training, through a detailed literature review and by qualitatively analysing three trainee integrative/ humanistic therapists using interpretive phenomenological analysis. The three main themes which emerged from the interviewees making sense of their experience were very interesting and rich. These included the trainee’s experiences of the impact of the ‘cost’ (not simply financial) of personal therapy, ending the beneficial personal therapeutic work through fear of deeper relational contact- uncovering and dependence, and finally, the circular parallel process relating to the impact of external factors on the use of personal therapy.