1st Edition

The Developing Practitioner Growth and Stagnation of Therapists and Counselors

    392 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book provides a comprehensive overview of the professional development of counselors and therapists over the career lifespan. Drawing on their own extensive experience as psychotherapists, supervisors, teachers, and researchers, as well as from their own extensive study of the topic, previously published in their 1992 book The Evolving Professional Self, the authors aim to provide an update of their work that all counselors and psychotherapists will find valuable and useful. Readers are provided with empirically based conceptual knowledge that can increase their awareness of the central issues in professional development, allowing them to monitor their own development. The authors discuss the concept of development and review the research literature on practitioner development, and then provide detailed descriptions of its six phases. Aspects of each phase addressed include the developmental tasks unique to that phase; the sources of influence and the learning process which impacts therapeutic work and a sense of development; the perception of the professional role and working style; and therapists’ measures of effectiveness and satisfaction. All of this is augmented with quotes and illustrative examples from participants in the authors’ research studies. The book includes knowledge generated from research on master therapists and from the Society for Psychotherapy Research/Collaborative Research Network. The book also considers themes of professional development; struggles faced by novice practitioners; patterns of practitioner resiliency; and ways to improve training, supervision, and practice.

    Part I: Theoretical and Empirical Foundations for the Study of Practitioner Development Perspectives on Practitioners’ Professional Development. Models and Conceptions of Learning, Expertise, and Decision-Making. Cultural Discourses of Helping: Perspectives on What People Bring with Them when They Start Training in Therapy and Counseling. Part II: A Qualitative Study of Therapist and Counselor Development The Novice Student Phase. The Advanced Student Phase. The Novice Professional Phase. The Experienced Professional Phase. The Senior Professional Phase. Themes of Therapists’ Professional Development. A Cyclical/Trajectories Model of Therapists’ Professional Development and Stagnation. A Developmentally Sensitive Approach to Supervision. Part III: Expanding Views Master Therapists: Explorations of Expertise. Therapist Professional Resilience. Positive and negative cycles of practitioner development: Evidence, Concepts, and Implications from a Collaborative Quantitative Study of Psychotherapists. Appendices.


    Michael Helge Ronnestad, PhD, is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Oslo, Norway.

    Thomas M. Skovholt, PhD, ABPP, is Professor of Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology at the University of Minnesota.

    "I was immediately drawn to the title and focus of this book because it acknowledges the career lifespan of practitioners and the highs and lows of that professional journey. Each of the chapters is a meal in itself. Indeed, the book is crammed full – a comprehensive teaching tool and rich resource for trainers and supervisors especially. It could be a challenging read, taken cover to cover. But this is a book to be continually drawn upon for informed inspiration."-Elspeth Schwenk, Therapy Today

    "Practitioners of varying phases, from novice students in training to senior and master therapists, and from divergent countries, will find in this book invaluable insights to their personal and professional selves, while psychotherapy researchers, will gain a rich and inspiring source for planning future innovative research on therapists' professional development." - Hadas Wiseman, PhD, General Vice-President, Society of Psychotherapy Research; Professor of Counseling and Human Development, University of Haifa, Israel

    "Bravo!! This exceptional book is a must-read that integrates insights from years of science and practice on the development of therapist and counselor practitioners.   Not only is it a treasure-trove for researchers and practitioners alike, but also an excellent model for studying the development of practitioners. The authors’ dedication and insights are a true gift to the field." - Puncky Heppner, PhD, Curators Distinguished Professor, University of Missouri

    "Having studied this book, the development of counselors and therapists is no longer a dark continent. The detailed description of career trajectories based on interview materials combined with the findings from a unique quantitative study makes this volume stand out." - Horst Kächele, MD, PhD, International Psychoanalytic University, Berlin

    "This comprehensive, crisply written book delivers far more than the latest research and insights from the leading scholars in the world about therapist development. It effortlessly escorts the reader into introspection about his or her own development as well as a continued reflection about what it means to be a psychotherapist." - Barry Duncan, PsyD, Director, Heart and Soul of Change Project; author, On Becoming a Better Therapist

    "This is a monumental contribution to the therapist development literature.  The authors provide powerfully poignant insights into the inner landscape of a therapist’s life from novice to senior professionals. It is profoundly moving and totally passionate, articulated by therapists who have deeply and intensely lived and studied this largely uncharted territory." - Mary J. Heppner, PhD, Professor and Program Coordinator, University of Missouri