Their Primary Reasons
and Presenting Problems
John C. Norcross & Kelly A. Connor
This brief chapter aims, within the context of the other research contributions to this compendium, to explicate the primary reasons and presenting problems for mental health professionals seeking their own treatment. For the purposes of this chapter we distinguish between personal reasons and training/professional reasons for seeking psychotherapy. The published literature we review consists primarily of studies conducted with mental health professionals living in the United States. This research has been conducted nearly exclusively on psychotherapists' voluntary pursuit of professional treatment. Of course, a few psychotherapists seek personal therapy under pressure from licensing boards, ethics committees, or organizations for impaired professionals. Typical charges concern sexual misconduct with patients, substance abuse, or nonsexual boundary violations (Freudenberger, 1986; Gabbard, 1995). This does not fall within the purview of our chapter but is covered elsewhere in this volume (chapter 22).
At a foundational level, psychotherapists may seek personal treatment for personal reasons, for training/professional reasons, or for both reasons. Although oversimplified in a profession where the personal and the professional are nearly inseparable, the question does afford insight into psychotherapists' motivations for undergoing their own psychotherapy.