Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




There have been many speculations about the mental health of psychotherapists and the unique stress sources inherent in their profession, yet research to date has been meager. The present study focused on potential therapist stressors within the therapy session and the professional role. Specifically, the purposes of this exploratory study were: (1) to describe and clarify sources of stress which originate in client sessions and the professional role; (2) to explore certain irrational beliefs which therapists may hold and which may contribute to their own stress; and (3) to determine the extent of personal problems and disorders among therapists;Self-reported background characteristics of 264 psychotherapists served as independent variables, while written responses to an anonymous questionnaire provided the data base of dependent variables. Subjects made ratings of stress and frequency of occurrence for certain client behaviors, therapist experiences, and irrational beliefs. In addition, information was gathered on the incidence and treatment of personal problems among the therapists;Results revealed specific aspects of the therapists' weekly routine which were stressful. Certain irrational beliefs also contributed to stress, particularly beliefs that one should operate at peak efficiency and enthusiasm at all times. Older and more experienced therapists reported less stress than younger, inexperienced therapists. Other therapist characteristics related to stress level included work setting, therapist sex, and caseload size;Over half these subjects had experienced relationship difficulties and depression. Data are given for these and other problems and treatment. A substantial proportion of therapists had been in therapy, but many had been reluctant to seek therapy for a variety of reasons;The findings are of interest to training program directors as well as to practicing therapists. Future research is needed to expand on individual differences in stress; to delineate coping strategies; to further explore cognitive stressors; and to specify the problems therapists experience and the treatment they are likely to receive.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Connie Jean Deutsch



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

167 pages

Included in

Psychology Commons