Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Do Therapists Have To Be in Psychotherapy?

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on April 30, 2015

Yes. Therapists having psychotherapy is essential to growing as a psychotherapist. The question becomes for how long, with whom, and should this be monitored, that is, should the therapist have a say as to whether the patient is qualified to be a psychotherapist? These are questions which have been battled for years. In many psychoanalytic institutes, historically speaking, the training analyst, those deemed qualified to be the therapist for therapists in training, were mandated to report to a committee if the patient was a suitable therapist. The confidentiality, the bedrock of the therapeutic relationship, was destroyed, and so most psychoanalytic institutes no longer require training analysts to report to progression committees. Many schools of psychology and social work require that the student be in psychotherapy with a therapist in the same discipline. Is this necessary? Why does a social worker have to see a social worker, when seeing a psychologist could be on par? It is one thing to go to therapy because something is bothering you and it is another thing to go as part of a training program. Should the trainee be told when to start and stop therapy, or should this be determined by the patient? As with psychotherapy, there are no known answers, only speculation about what makes sense. In a field with more questions than answers, this post should sound familiar.

4 Responses to “Do Therapists Have To Be in Psychotherapy?”

  1. Shelly said

    I do believe that therapists (psychiatrists, psychologists, SWs) should have psychotherapy. First of all, everyone has baggage and they need to learn how to get it under control so they don’t bring it into the office and lay it on their patients. Secondly, it’s one thing to learn the art of therapy from books or even frontally, or even in a classroom environment, and it is quite another to practice it. Before they are let loose in a clinical setting, they should see what it feels like to be the “patient.”

  2. Yes. To be on both ends of the couch is essential and as usual, you have stated the reasons very well. Thanks.

  3. Eleanor said

    I totally agree with what Shelly said….this is so true. In fact early in my analysis, my physician /psychoanalyst made it quite clear that the analysis as part of training was absolutely vital in order to treat patients in the best possible manner. I don’t even want to imagine how any therapist could possible give appropriate treatment to any patient without the therapist first having in depth treatment themselves. I also would suggest that anyone seeking therapeutic treatment of any kind have the right to ask their potential therapist what kind of, if any, treatment they have had as part of their training. If the answer is “none” or “I would prefer not to answer that question”, I would run the other way.

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