The training and education involved in becoming aPsychotherapist is a long and costly journey that requires commitment. There is also the personal and emotionalchallenges encountered along the way. This highlights the willingness that student therapists have to bealtruistic and to care and support their clients in a professionalrelationship. There is a distinct lackof research material available on the subject of whether previous lifeexperiences (emotional wounds) have influenced individuals to undertake acareer in Psychotherapy. However thereare common themes identified from the existing literature and this review willdiscuss those themes which are; the wounded healer, early childhood experienceof loss, the unconscious influences and the desire to help others.
The subject of counter transference will alsobe discussed. The Wounded HealerThere are individuals within the profession of Psychotherapywho at one time themselves experienced therapy as the client. They have been hurt and experienced their owntraumas and pain which in turn led them on the path of becoming therapiststhemselves. They became the woundedhealer Psychotherapists. However someindividuals who enter the profession in this way can be detrimental to theirclients and the profession (Farber, 2017).The role of a Psychotherapist is to facilitate clients intheir disclosure of their personal experiences, yet the Psychotherapeuticcommunity is silent when it comes to their own emotional wounds. There is a perception that therapists don’t experiencewhat their clients present with and they are emotionally very stable and secure.
This persona can then be adopted by therapistsand student therapists alike due to a fear of being stigmatised (Adams, 2014).A study conducted by Gertrud Mander in 2004 which involvedinterviewing candidates who wished to train as Psychotherapists, found thatthere was an internal inner voice or a “call from the super-ego” that was a motivatingfactor for the candidates. This supportsthe idea that there is a connection between therapists and the wounded healerconcept (Mander, 2004).Early childhood experience of lossCarl Jung and Melanie klein who are both arguably the more well-knowntherapists to date both experienced different variations of early childhoodloss, with Jung choosing isolation and loneliness as a child and Klein who losther Father by the time she was 18. Boththese personal examples were cited in a study conducted in 2007 which compromisedof 9 participants.
All 9 experienced some form of early childhoodexperience of loss and contributed that as a motivating factor in training as Psychotherapists. Again the connection can be made here of the individualtraining as a therapist to fulfil a personal need or to heal oneself (Barnett,2007). Unconscious MotivationsTraining as a Psychotherapist involves opening up the student’sinner world to distress, trauma and difficult experiences of others.
Student therapists deliberately enter into thisprofession. While we can assume that themajority of the general population would seek to avoid such a profession(Norcross and Faber,2005).What is evident from previous research on this topic is thatwhat is in the unconscious mind does not always rise to the surface whenindividuals are asked why they chose this profession; therefore individuals maynot be fully aware of what truly lead them on this path to becoming a Psychotherapistunless asked to delve deeper. Marston(1984) suggests that Psychotherapists and Counsellors are motivated byunconscious motives. The motives namedin the study are contact, discovery, fortune, growth, fame, healing, vicariousexperience and controversially power (Marston 1984).The desire to help othersThe desire to help others or altruism has been the subject ofresearch.
Whether altruistic motivationsare entirely selfless raises much debate. If we are to believe that it is empathy that ignites the desire to helpothers, the question can be put, is it because one can’t bear to feel thedistress of others empathetically, therefore one feels a strong motivation tohelp others in order to alleviate those feelings of empathy while also alleviatingthe sufferer? (Staemmler,2012).The motivation of “helping others” is by far the mostcommonly used reason, according to research for therapists choosing theprofession (Bager-Charlson, 2010). Paststudies point to altruistic reasons being the most attractive to studenttherapists. Carl Rogers (1962) alsospoke of the rewards gained from helping others.
Altruism as a motive is an honourable andsocially acceptable one. This may indicatewhy it is most often stated as the reason for individuals choosing a career in Counselling& Psychotherapy. (Sriram, 2016).Counter transference