Personal therapy: An essential aspect of counsellor training, or a distraction from focussing on the client?

  • Sue Wheeler


As part of a research project investigating therapist/counsellor orientation and the therapeutic alliance with anorexic or bulimic clients, data was collected not only on therapist orientation but also on training, supervision and personal therapy of the counsellors. While no significant correlation was found between length of training or supervision and the therapeutic alliance score, there was a significant negative correlation between the amount of personal therapy the counsellors had had and the measure of the therapeutic alliance achieved with their clients. Further investigation produced other studies on personal therapy and effectiveness of counselling, in which at best no positive correlation was found between personal therapy and outcome, and at worst, personal therapy was negatively correlated with outcome.

These research findings challenge the assumption often made that personal therapy is a desirable if not essential aspect of counsellor training. The arguments for and against personal therapy being included in the training of counsellors are discussed.


Negative Correlation Research Finding Significant Negative Correlation Therapeutic Alliance Essential Aspect 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sue Wheeler
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BirminghamBirminghamUK

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