THERAPY FOR THE THERAPIST
Counsellors, Psychologists and Other Mental Health Workers
THE PURPOSE AND BENEFIT OF PERSONAL THERAPY
The nature of the relationship is an important factor when the therapist engages in their own personal therapy. It must be an honest space where two professionals respectfully come together with a purpose. This space allows the therapist to experience counselling firsthand to undertake the task of working through current personal issue, feelings that may have arisen whilst conducting therapy with others or issues which may have been highlighted within supervision.
Whilst undertaking personal therapy may be stressful, challenging and costly, the current research indicates positive impacts. One study captured that 90% of psychotherapists reported the experiences were satisfied with engaging within personal therapy. These positive impacts have been outlined as the following: improved counsellor characteristics such as improved empathy, authenticity and warmth. Other skills which have been highlighted include the expansion of one’s own insight, growth and awareness. These enhancements with the self, have a positive flow on effect to the counsellor’s own practice with their clients.
Indications You May Need to Access Your Own Personal Therapy
It is important for therapists to be effective for their clients to work on themselves, as and when issue come into their awareness. How can we hold client’s issues and be fully present when we have our own internal chaos in the room?
- Therapists may deflect away from painful issues by changing the subject
- Comforting the client
- Influencing the client to take a particular course of action
- Failing to notice issues, themes etc.
- Being consumed or distracted by your own feelings
Counsellors in Training or Newly Qualified Counsellors
There is much debate if personal therapy should be mandatory for counsellors in training or newly qualified counsellors. Experiencing your own personal therapy is a good opportunity to experience what it is like sitting as the client. It also allows a space to experience what counsellors do, their practices, models and technical skills. It is noted that more seasoned counsellors may dip in and out of therapy through their careers.
Working on your self does not stop once you are qualified, it is something that is continuous. This supports the conclusion that ‘therapy for the therapist’ is a practitioners ongoing maturation and part of not only best practice but an integral aspect of our own development as a skilled practitioner and striving to be the best that we can be!
BENEFITS OF COUNSELLORS UNDERTAKING THEIR OWN PERSONAL THERAPY
Aids to improve the emotional and mental functioning of the Therapist.
Enhances understanding of the interpersonal relationship and its vulnerabilities
Alleviates emotional stress and supports self care and wellbeing
Provides a space to experience what counsellors do and how it works
Empowers the Therapist’s internal validation of the practice of counselling
Provides experience of other models and interpersonal and counselling skills
A REFLECTIVE SPACE
We provide an honest, confidential and reflective space for Psychologists, Counsellors and other Mental Health Practioners.
Norcross, J. (2005). The Psychotherapist’s Own Psychotherapy: Educating and Developing Psychologists. American Psychologist, 60(8), pp.840-850.
Macran, S. & Shapiro, D. A. (2011). The Role of Personal Therapy for Therapists: A review. Psychology and Psychotherapy: theory, research and Practice. The British Psychological Society, 71 (1), pp 13-25.
Malikiosi-Loizos, M. (2013). Personal Therapy for Future Therapists: Reflections on a Still Debated Issue. The European Journal of Counselling Psychology, 2(1), pp.33-50.
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