Stress in Psychotherapists

Stress in Psychotherapists

Stress in Psychotherapists

Stress in Psychotherapists


Those who spend most of their time dealing with other people's stress are most vulnerable to stress themselves. Stress in Psychotherapists highlights the pressures experienced by psychotherapists and examines how the effects vary according to the problems they treat, the settings in which they work and their professional and personal development. Written by a team of experienced practitioners this book is important reading for all those in psychotherapy training and practice.


Over the last twenty or so years psychotherapists have made a great contribution to the mental health problems of their fellow human beings and there has been a great need for them to do so. As Malcolm Pines wrote in 1974 (Varma 1974), rising living standards in underdeveloped countries often precede and may eventually lead to revolution. Similar conditions in advanced western societies lead to a demand for psychotherapy—the hungry mind replaces the empty belly; the emotional sickness shows.

Almost all of us in advanced western societies have experienced stress at one time or another, in our personal relationships, in our work, in our health, or in all of these and other areas as well. Psychotherapists have experienced more stress than other people because they deal with the stressed and the stressors.

The other reason why psychotherapists experience more stress is a result of the inherent complexity of their subject (Bloch 1982). This complexity is reflected in the vast array of different psychotherapeutic approaches. The number of ‘schools’ of psychotherapy well exceeds 100 and a recent publication contained almost 1,000 pages describing no less than 64 ‘innovative’ approaches (ibid.). In this book, rather than trying to represent this enormous field, I have taken what seems to me the more sensible course of showing how stress affects psychotherapists working with different aspects of three fundamental models of which virtually all the others are variations: the psychodynamic, the humanist-existential, and the behavioural.

During the last thirty years work has been done on stress in a wide range of occupations (Payne and Firth-Cozens 1987), but it is only recently that books have begun to appear which deal with stress in specific occupational groups. So far as I know, this is one of the . . .

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