The Effects of Trauma on the Therapist

The Effects of Trauma on the Therapist


It is my observation that in general psychotherapists love what they do. They find their work intensely interesting stimulating and very rewarding. It is varied, seldom dull and no patient is the same as any other. The feeling of helping others is deeply satisfying in many complicated and simple ways. The benefits of being in a therapeutic relationship are bi-directional. If it is good enough both the therapist and the patient have needs that are met even though their roles and their needs are different. 

But sometimes things go badly and the therapy is derailed.  In this session I will discuss how trauma may interfere with the provision of needs. 

Following Bacal and Thomson (1996), I suggest that frustration of the therapists needs can have a practical impact on the treatment which may result in an impasse.  I will elaborate some of those needs and notice how they are often experienced as shameful and are hidden from conscious reflection. I will use clinical examples to illustrate and hope participants will bring their own experiences to the discussion.

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