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Abstract

While considerable research has examined how clients learn from psychotherapists, there is only sparse literature on what therapists learn from their therapy clients. In a qualitative, exploratory study, nine researchers interviewed 61 psychologists from across North America in order to see what psychotherapists may have learned and how they have been affected by their clients both personally and professionally. Participants responded to nine open-ended questions on learning about life-lessons, relationships, ethical decision-making, coping, courage, wisdom, psychopathology, personality, cultural differences, lifespan development and more. Participants’ richly elaborated responses were coded thematically and narrative data illustrates the most frequent themes. Therapists reported learning a great deal across each of the questions, consistently expressing respect for their clients' resilience, courage and moral sensibilities.

Keywords

Therapist Development, Therapy Relationship, Client Wisdo, Cultural Difference, Life Lessons

Acknowledgements

This research was supported by a grant from the Provost’s Office at Fielding Graduate University. Thanks to Dr. Dan Sewell and Ms. Marlene Zimels for assistance with the grant, to Ms. Louise Keeler for her IRB guidance and to Dr. Robert L. Hatcher for his suggestions on an earlier draft of this article. We want to express particular appreciation to the psychologists who participated in our study.

Publication Date

11-26-2012

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

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