Single Paper or Case Study

Trauma in the Lives of Psychotherapists

Saturday, March 24
2:30 PM - 2:50 PM
Location: Logan

While research findings quite clearly identify that the rates of trauma in the lives of those who are drawn to working in mental health are far higher than those in the general population, up to 50%, this phenomenon has not been explored in depth. The goal of this research project was to examine the experience of psychoanalysts who have experienced personal trauma in their lives. 45 psychoanalytically oriented clinicians were recruited, ranging in age from 25 to over 80 (X̅=58), with years of practice ranging from less than five to over 50.  Using a semi-structured, open-ended interview format, these clinicians recounted trauma histories including major medical traumas in childhood and adulthood, sudden personal losses, injuries, and abuse and neglect experiences.  Two raters utilized the Deedoose qualitative analysis software to conduct a thematic analysis. Themes which emerged included:  Impact on direction of life, Training, Disclosure, Impact on Patients, Healing through helping others, Role of personal analysis, Countertransference with trauma patients, Understanding own trauma through education, and Trauma as a challenge in life. In this presentation, these themes will be discussed in depth. This research received research ethics approval from McGill University. 

Learning Objectives:

Heather B. MacIntosh

Associate Professor
McGill University
Montreal, Quebec

Heather MacIntosh is Associate Professor in the MScA Couple and Family Therapy Programme at McGill University where she is the recipient of the H. Noel Fieldhouse Award for Distinguished Teaching. Dr. MacIntosh is a clinical psychologist and principal investigator on SSHRC and FQRSC funded research projects examining the impact of early life trauma on the process and outcome of couple therapy, and the development and maintenance of healthy adult relationships. Dr. MacIntosh is the author of a number of peer reviewed articles and chapters in the area of trauma and couple therapy and she is currently developing a treatment manual for therapists for her novel, psychoanalytically informed, couple therapy model, Developmental Couple Therapy for Complex Trauma. This manuscript is under contract to Routledge Press and is expected for release in 2018. Dr. MacIntosh maintains a small private practice in Montreal, Quebec.


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Trauma in the Lives of Psychotherapists

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