Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


This study explored therapists' perceptions of how their experiences in their own personal therapy related to their practice as a clinician. Utilizing interviews with 10 therapists who have prior experienced or who are currently engaged in their own personal therapy, this exploratory study examined clinicians' experiences ways in which their personal therapy affected their clinical practice. Specifically, the study also explored clinicians' reflections, while practicing, of their abilities to identify with their clients, their personal therapists, and their overall understanding of the therapeutic process between therapist and client, due to their participation in their own personal therapy. The study found a unanimous emphasis on the importance of personal therapy as vital tools for self care and professional care in the practices of clinical social workers. The data indicated that participants found themselves identifying with their clients and/or client-role, by means of vulnerabilities, empathy, boundaries, assumptions, termination, and overall perceptions of therapists, due to their participation in their own therapy. In addition, participants found themselves identifying with their personal therapists in their own practice by either modeling after their therapists or by distancing themselves from their therapists while working. Lastly, the data showed several clinicians found themselves, while working, able to embrace their countertransference and acknowledge the unspoken love between the therapist and the client, due to their experiences in their own personal therapies. Though this study proved to be both informative and helpful to the field of social work, further research in regards to how clinical practices are affected by therapists' personal therapies would further benefit the field.


iii, 43 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2007. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 37-38).