(Discounts available for students). When considering how we work therapeutically with clients, careful consideration should be be given to what we bring relationally through our own experiences. Personal therapy as a student or novice therapist provides such opportunities.
Self-development is one of the most important factors in any form of training when working with others (Clarkson, 2003). The therapist is not a neutral component within the therapeutic process (Rose, 2008). Evidence informs us that without careful self-observation there is the potential that our values, attitudes or beliefs could negatively affect our clients (Johns, 2012). Experiences of being in therapy and engaging in personal development can facilitate a scrutinous exploration of our person and values whilst promoting personal/professional growth, inter-relational learning, and the development of empathy for clients (Skynner & Cleese, 1983, Ieva, Ohrt, Swank & Young, 2009).
Patterns and themes from our past have the potential to replay within our work with clients (DeYoung, 2015). The capability to self-evaluate and critically examine oneself is vitally important within a reflective and reflexive practice (Dallos & Steadman, 2009, Bager-Charleson, 2010, BACP, 2018). The ability to demonstrate good practice constitutes care for oneself in addition to adhering to the values, principles and personal moral qualities of the BACP (2018). Blindly adopting a way of working without thought to ethics or evidence has the potential to cause harm or retraumatise clients (Miller, 2001, Castonguay, Boswell, Constantino, Goldfried and Hill, 2010, Dimidjian & Hollon, 2010).
Personal development also provides the opportunity to work on the ways in which we compassionately challenge ourselves and others. Recent evidence demonstrates that efflective and appropriate challenge in the therapeutic relationship is a very helpful factor in helping clients to change (Folmo et al. 2019). Therapists who demonstrate effective challenge appear more mentally involved, demostrate empathy , transparency, managed their own countertransferences, and display increased tolerance to a client’s negative feelings (Folmo et al. 2019). The capacity to challenge can be fostered and managed through supervision and personal therapy (Seelig, 2017).
- Bager-Charleson, S. (2010). Reflective practice in counselling and psychotherapy
- British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (2018). Ethical framework for the counselling professions.
- Castonguay, L. G., Boswell, J. F., Constantino, M. J., Goldfried, M. R., & Hill, C. E. (2010). Training implications of harmful effects of psychological treatments. American Psychologist, 65(1), 34.
- Clarkson, P. (2003). The therapeutic relationship (2nd ed.). London, United Kingdom: Whurr Publications Ltd.
- Dallos, R., & Steadman. J. (2009). Flying over the swampy lowlands: Reflective and reflexive practice. In R. Dallos, & J. Steadman (Eds.). Reflective practice in psychotherapy and counselling (pp.1-22).
- DeYoung, P. A. (2015). Understanding and treating chronic shame: A relational/neurobiological approach. New York, USA: Routledge.
- Folmo, E. J., Karterud, S. W., Kongerslev, M. T., Kvarstein, E. H., & Stänicke, E. (2019). Battles of the comfort zone: Modelling therapeutic strategy, alliance, and epistemic trust—A qualitative study of mentalization-based therapy for borderline personality disorder. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 1-11.
- Johns, H. (2012). Personal development in counsellor training (2nd ed.). London, United Kingdom: Sage Publications.
- Ieva, K. P., Ohrt, J. H., Swank, J. M., & Young, T. (2009). The impact of experiential groups on master students' counselor and personal development: A qualitative investigation. The Journal for Specialists in Group Work, 34(4), 351-368.
- Miller, A. (2001). The truth will set you free: Overcoming emotional blindness and finding your true adult self. New York, USA: Basic Books.
- Rose, C. (2008). The personal development group: The student's guide. London, United Kingdom: Karnac Books.
- Seelig, B. J. (2017) Altruism and Boundary Violation. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 37(7), 474-486.
- Skynner, A. R., & Cleese, J. (1983). Families and how to survive them. London, United Kingdom: Random House.