Date of Award

Fall 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Knox, Sarah

Second Advisor

Edwards, Lisa

Third Advisor

Zebrowski, Michael


While broad support exists for trainees in professional psychology who decide to seek personal therapy, surprisingly little literature has focused on their perspective of the experience of attending therapy while in training. The impact of such experiences could have important implications not only for trainees, but also for their training programs. Given the relative lack of empirical attention in this area, this study hoped to provide a rich understanding of how trainees are affected by personal therapy while in training, as well as how this experience was viewed by their graduate programs. Eleven master’s- and doctoral-level trainees were interviewed. Most participants had attended therapy at least once prior to beginning their training programs, and they largely reported forming healthy, effective relationships with their therapists. Participants had mostly positive experiences in therapy, feeling that it had a beneficial influence on their functioning personally, academically, and clinically. They viewed their academic programs as being supportive of personal therapy for trainees, and most shared pieces of their experience with peers and faculty/staff members. Nearly all participants felt strongly that personal therapy is an integral part of graduate training, asserting that programs should encourage such therapy for their trainees. Limitations and implications for training, practice, and research are addressed.