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Alternative Title

Influence of parenthood on child trauma therapists' countertransference

Publication Date


First Advisor

Chad Kordt-Thomas

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Study Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School for Social Work


Countertransference, Psychotherapy, Therapy, Therapist, Parenthood, Parent, Life stage, Identity, Trauma, Children


This qualitative study explored the impact parenthood has on child trauma therapists’ countertransference. Therapists were asked about parenthood’s impact on their identity and life context and their experience with clients and clients’ caregivers. This project was undertaken in order to gain familiarity with this subset of child mental health providers, as anecdotal evidence suggested parenthood was linked to attrition in the field.

Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with twelve licensed mental health therapists, recruited through purposive and snowball sampling. All had worked with traumatized children while parenting a young child.

All participants confirmed that parenthood impacted their experience with their clients and clients’ caregivers, most notably deepening their understanding of children and families and increasing empathy for clients’ caregivers.

Future research might explore links between early parenthood and attrition in the field. Additionally, the findings recommend practice settings identify and implement unique supports to retain this valuable group of clinicians


©2020 Lisa Kennedy. Access limited to the Smith College community and other researchers while on campus. Smith College community members also may access from off-campus using a Smith College log-in. Other off-campus researchers may request a copy through Interlibrary Loan for personal use.




iii, 131 pages. Includes bibliographical references (pages 106-116)