The motivations of psychotherapists: an in‐depth survey

McBeath, Alistair ORCID logoORCID: (2019) The motivations of psychotherapists: an in‐depth survey. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 19 (4) . pp. 377-387. ISSN 1473-3145 [Article] (doi:10.1002/capr.12225)


Examining the motivations of psychotherapists has not been a popular topic of systematic research. Knowing why people want to become therapists is clearly important because this factor will inevitably impact on therapeutic outcomes. The absence of research‐led knowledge on therapists′ motivations allows this key issue to remain a relatively unattended focus within reflective practice and personal development.

To collect data about therapists′ motivations from a large number of practitioners so that core findings could be generalised to the wider profession.

A total of 540 psychotherapists completed an online survey with significant numbers offering supporting qualitative data. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics. Qualitative data were subject to thematic and textual analysis.

A large majority of therapists believe that their career choice was influenced by unconscious motivations, that their motivations are likely to change over time and that their own psychic wounds can contribute to effective therapy.

Psychotherapists are clearly prepared to reflect, in depth, on why they have been drawn to the profession. The fact that an awareness of therapists′ motivations may be variable that they may change over time and can be linked to personal vulnerability suggests that the topic should be an integral part of practitioners′ ongoing personal development and a discrete focus in formal training programmes.

Item Type: Article
Keywords (uncontrolled): Applied Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Psychiatry and Mental health
Research Areas: A. > Library and Student Support
Item ID: 26645
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Depositing User: Jisc Publications Router
Date Deposited: 21 May 2019 12:11
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2021 01:35

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