A Research Synthesis
JOHN C. NORCROSS & HENRY GRUNEBAUM
Remarkably few research studies focus on psychotherapists' experiences with their personal treatment (Clark, 1986; Macaskill, 1988; Macran & Shapiro, 1998). Even fewer empirical investigations tackle the selection and characteristics of the therapist's therapist. The silence is deafening.
In this brief chapter, we review the existing research on how mental health professionals select psychotherapists for their own psychotherapy and the concomitant characteristics of those therapists in terms of demographics, theoretical orientations, and professional disciplines. As with the other research chapters in this part of the book, the research studies considered are all published works in the English language, largely conducted in the United States.
In a pioneering article on therapist selection, Grunebaum (1983) interviewed 23 experienced, Boston-area psychotherapists (11 psychiatrists, 7 psychologists, 3 social workers, and 2 counselors) about how they had recently found a “good therapist” for themselves. The sample constituted an especially knowledgeable group with informed opinions about the quality of therapy and therapists. The therapist-patients in his sample said that they had four essential criteria in mind as they searched for their own psychotherapist. First, they sought a fellow psychotherapist who was professionally competent, based