A Survey of Forty Licensed Psychotherapists in Private Practice in Northern California — The Effect of Treatment on Treater

  • Dorothy E. Gibson
  • Barbara Taylor


This survey is an attempt to elicit the inner world of the psychotherapist in private practice. Very little, has been published concerning what Spensley and Blacker1 have called the “normal” and “usual” course of an intensive psychotherapeutic experience for the therapist. There is abundant material on the issues of transference and countertransference, yet this literature does not encompass all of the daily emotional experience of the therapist as he or she joins the patient/client in the intimate knowledge of the joys and pain of being human. What is the effect of the sum of these emotional experiences upon the men and women who choose the occupation of private practitioner? Therapists in agencies and institutional settings are in constant proximity to their fellow professional staff members. Reaching out for an intimate understanding of the daily, monthly and yearly emotional process is at least possible. Private therapists may have few opportunities to make those intimate connections necessary for emotional sustenance and renewal. To test this assumption and to find what therapists do should this be true, has been our purpose, as well as to obtain some measure of this experience upon the private practitioner. We chose the open-ended, unstructured, and confidential interview as a way of obtaining this information. While unstructured interviews provide an overabundance of information, it was thought this method of data collection would elicit a view of the experience unencumbered by any bias on the part of the investigators.


Private Practice Private Practitioner Unstructured Interview Professional Opportunity Therapeutic Interchange 
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    T. McCarley, The psychotherapist’s search for self renewal, Amer. J. Psychother., 132: 221–224 (1975).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dorothy E. Gibson
    • 1
  • Barbara Taylor
    • 1
  1. 1.San Francisco State University Counseling CenterUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA

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