Description: Professional counselors may choose to increase self-awareness and/or engage in self-care through the use of personal therapy. In particular, counselors may feel reluctant to pursue personal therapy due to stigma related to their professional identity. To date, researchers have paid limited attention to the unique concerns of counselors in personal therapy. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore counselors' experiences and decision-making in seeking personal therapy. I addressed the following questions: What contributes to counselors' decision to seek personal therapy? How do counselors make meaning of their experiences in utilizing personal therapy? Participants included 13 licensed professional counselors who had attended personal therapy with a licensed mental health professional in the past three years. I identified six emergent themes through adapted classic phenomenological analysis: presenting concerns, therapist attributes, intrapersonal growth, interpersonal growth, therapeutic factors, and challenges. Participants reported positive changes in personality and relationships, as well as several barriers specifically related to their counselor identity. Findings inform mental health professionals and the field of counselor education and supervision about the personal and professional needs of counselors. Limitations and future research directions are discussed.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Bevly, Cynthia