Psychology Students And Their Use Of Personal Therapy

As a psychology professor for many years, I always encouraged, some would say browbeat, shoved, or coaxed, graduate students into therapy.  I didn’t care how they got to therapy, only that they made self-examination a priority before they began treating others.

Paul Camic, Ph.D., a friend and colleague from my days at the Chicago School, and his colleagues, have just published an incredibly useful article that examines social stigma and attitudes towards seeking therapy in 3 countries. You ought to read all of it, but I will summarize a few of the results that struck me as especially noteworthy.

1. Students from Argentina, England, and the United States have significant differences about using therapy, with Argentinean students showing the lowest levels of perceived social stigma for receiving therapy, followed by English and Americans.

2. English students showed relatively less positive attitudes toward seeking therapy than

their Argentinean and American counterparts. Hmmmm, the royal family could benefit.

3. Students were influenced by their chosen professional activity, with clinicians who deliver psychotherapy being more inclined to undergo therapy than those involved in non-treatment roles.

4. Students were influence by their own theoretical

orientation, with psychoanalytic/

psychodynamic therapists being the most likely to have undergone personal therapy and cognitive– behavioral therapists being the least likely to have done so.

5. American and Argentinean students were significantly more positive toward therapy than the English. But, Argentinean students mirror the wider population’s views of therapy (high value) American students hold more positive attitudes toward therapy than the wider population of American lay people.

Source: Digiuni, M., Jones, F. W., & Camic, P. M. (2012, August 13). Perceived Social Stigma and Attitudes Towards Seeking Therapy in Training: A Cross-National Study. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0028784

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