Do Therapists get Therapy? | Controlling bias and counter-transference in counseling


Quick summary: Many psychotherapy programs mandate that their students receive their own psychotherapy services… in my opinion it should be a requirement for all psychotherapists. Therapy is an effective way for a therapist to resolve issues such as personal bias, prejudice, ruminating, and emotional reactivity so that they can be fully present and non-judgmental with their own clients. Counter-transference is a term that dates back to Freud… Instead an in-depth explanation of the phenomenon let me put it this simply… Counter transference is when a therapist projects their own stuff (unresolved issues) onto the client… the therapist is not generally conscious of the fact that they are doing so.

Therapists are people – people suffer – Therapists then must suffer too… (Little bit of deductive reasoning for you all)

The suffering that we experience in our lives encourages us to react differently to stimuli which reminds us (either consciously or, perhaps more often, unconsciously) of a time when suffering was experienced.

One of the primary roles of a therapist is to create a safe place for clients to explore the ways in which they are still impacted by a past instance of suffering.

The therapists number one job is create a non-judgmental space for the client to feel authentic empathy while the client expresses the impact of their suffering.

To accomplish such a task it is of paramount importance that the therapist can remain both present and emotionally stable while the client involves themselves in subjects which makes the client feel unstable… makes them feel as though they are entering into chaos.

  • It is the security of the therapist’s presence which enables the safety needed for the client to explore chaos, meaninglessness, suffering, contradiction, relational loss etc…


People are not always the best at identifying their blind spots – and again therapists are people.

  • It would seem that some might suggest that therapist simply avoid counter-transference… the problem is that you can’t really avoid what you are mostly unaware of… therapy is a great was for therapist to find awareness of their blind spots.

Therapy is very difficult to understand – it is very difficult to understand how therapy works until you have experienced it.

  • Perhaps this is similar to anything else in life… you could read every book in the world about bike riding, but you will have a difficult time truly understanding the sensation until your engage in the activity.

Most of all, I believe that it is important to walk the talk.

  • no one would seek out a basketball coach that doesn’t know how to play basketball and when people are looking for help with their mental health concerns they are hoping to get a professional that has dedicated themselves to being in top metal health.


I have written extensively about emotional reactivity in other blogs so I will keep this part short.

  • When a therapist seeks out therapy, they prepare themselves to not be overly emotionally reactive if a client brings up a subjects that was personally significant for the therapist (ex if the client is talking about an abusive partner and the therapist also had an old partner who was abusive – the therapist needs to work through their own stuff in order to be fully present for the client).


Therapists seek therapy to learn about therapy, to increase their own mental health, to become aware of their blind spots, and to increase their ability to be an authentically accepting person…


We also seek therapy for every different reason that anyone else in society would do so… because it helps.

William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.
William Hambleton Bishop
William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.

2 thoughts on “Do Therapists get Therapy? | Controlling bias and counter-transference in counseling

  1. Thanks for taking the time to debate this, I feel strongly about it and love learning extra on this topic. If doable, as you acquire expertise, would you mind updating your blog with additional information? This can be very helpful for me.

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