Magazine article Psychotherapy Networker

Therapist, Heal Thyself: A New Research Study Reopens an Old Controversy

Magazine article Psychotherapy Networker

Therapist, Heal Thyself: A New Research Study Reopens an Old Controversy

Article excerpt

Every clinician has been there. You watch a client make a small, daring leap toward authenticity and you find yourself strangely giddy with hope--for her and for you. Or a usually amiable client turns suddenly icy and accusatory, calling forth some very young, shivering part of you that you realize could use some kindness. Or, by chance, a client's current struggle bumps you up against a quandary of your own, some stubborn knot that you've been picking at forever but have never actually looked at hard enough, or patiently enough, to untangle. Maybe now.

There are a hundred ways it can happen, this small miracle of mutuality, in which you work hard and intently for your client and, in the process, uncover something vital and possible for yourself. The fruits of these encounters may come at once, or years down the road. But they come.

Clinicians don't talk much about the deep reciprocity of the therapeutic experience. Some may feel a bit queasy about it, wondering whether "using" the clinical hour in this way is unprofessional, even unethical. A Greek chorus of professors and supervisors may echo in a practitioner's head: Beware of countertransference! Keep your own stuff separate! …

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