Training of Psychotherapists and Counselors

Since the time of Freud, personal therapy and/or experiential work has been seen as an important component in the training of psychotherapists and counsellors. In many traditions of psychotherapy and counselling (e.g. Freudian psychoanalysis, Jungian analysis, transactional analysis, gestalt therapy), therapists-in-training undergo personal therapy. In other traditions (e.g. family therapy, group therapy), personal experiential work (e.g. classroom work on family-of-origin experience) is included as part of training course exercises.

Despite the widespread use of personal therapy as a training device for psychotherapists and counsellors, there has been a paucity of studies evaluating its effectiveness. The empirical evidence that exists is weak. Therapists themselves rate the influence of personal therapy on their professional development very highly. However, in a review of personal therapy for therapists, Macran and Shapiro suggested that while there was some evidence that personal therapy has a positive effect on empathy, warmth and genuineness, there was little other objective evidence of changes.

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