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Saturday, April 21, 2018

A Systematic Review and Meta‐Synthesis of Qualitative Research Into Mandatory Personal Psychotherapy During Training

David Murphy, Nisha Irfan, Harriet Barnett, Emma Castledine, & Lily Enescu
Counseling and Psychotherapy Research
First published February 23, 2018


This study addresses the thorny issue of mandatory personal psychotherapy within counselling and psychotherapy training. It is expensive, emotionally demanding and time‐consuming. Nevertheless, proponents argue that it is essential in protecting the public and keeping clients safe; to ensure psychotherapists develop high levels of self‐awareness and gain knowledge of interpersonal dynamics; and that it enhances therapist effectiveness. Existing evidence about these potential benefits is equivocal and is largely reliant on small‐scale qualitative studies.

We carried out a systematic review of literature searched within five major databases. The search identified 16 published qualitative research studies on the topic of mandatory personal psychotherapy that matched the inclusion criteria. All studies were rated for quality. The findings from individual studies were thematically analysed through a process of meta‐synthesis.

Meta‐synthesis showed studies on mandatory psychotherapy had reported both positive and hindering factors in almost equal number. Six main themes were identified: three positive and three negative. Positive findings were related to personal and professional development, experiential learning and therapeutic benefits. Negative findings related to ethical imperatives do no harm, justice and integrity.

When mandatory personal psychotherapy is used within a training programme, courses must consider carefully and put ethical issues at the forefront of decision‐making. Additionally, the requirement of mandatory psychotherapy should be positioned and identified as an experiential pedagogical device rather than fulfilling a curative function. Recommendations for further research are made.

The research is here.