A Curious Calling: Unconscious Motivations for Practicing Psychotherapy

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Jason Aronson, 2007 - Business & Economics - 237 pages
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"What brings you here?" is the standard question posed to patients at the outset of their therapeutic journey. In A Curious Calling, this question is posed to therapists themselves. Applicants to psychotherapy training programs commonly state that they wish "to help people" but this tells us very little. What are the unconscious factors underlying the decision to become a psychotherapist? Guilt, compassion, a sense of moral duty, a sense of power? Or a wish to be needed, or to enjoy vicariously the prospect of receiving aid and comfort? For each individual with a "need to help" there exists a unique constellation of underlying motives and aims. Without exploring and facing up to these hidden sources of motivation, therapists run the risk of exploiting patients for their own needs. The only comprehensive text on this topic, Sussman's book presents a survey of motivations to practice psychotherapy, through an extensive review of the available literature and discussion of the results of a qualitative study of therapists conducted by the author."
 

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Contents

The Fascination of Psychotherapy
1
The Attempt to Master Ones Own Conflicts
13
Satisfactions and Psychological Benefits Derived from the Practice of Psychotherapy
27
Motives Related to Instinctual Aims
35
Motives Related to Narcissism and the Development of the Self
71
Motives Involving Object Relations
97
Therapist Profiles
129
Conclusions and Further Reflections
177
Afterword
195
Appendix
201
References
205
Index
225
About the Author
237
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About the author (2007)

Michael B. Sussman, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Dr. Sussman has worked in private practice and as a clinical instructor at Harvard University. He is the editor of A Perilous Calling: The Hazards of Psychotherapy Practice and the author of a children's picture book, Otto Grows Down.

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