Psychotherapist Resources

What is the Purpose of Psychotherapy?

People are designed to adapt to changing circumstances and “neurotic” symptoms such as chronic anxiety or anger arise when a person’s ability to adapt is overwhelmed.

A good psychotherapist provides a psychological and emotional “windbreak” while a person regains his or her bearings and resumes normal adaptation.

A good psychotherapist will appear to have his or her “act together” in terms of grooming, attire, and organizational ability. The therapist’s approach to healing must be logical, believable and applicable. The therapist must draw the client out using genuine empathy, sympathy and compassion. Therapeutic goals must be based upon the client’s reasonable desires.

Master Psychotherapists

Becoming a master psychotherapist is one of the most challenging professional accomplishments of all. It is similar to welding moving metal or adjusting the valves on an engine while it’s still running.  Innumerable factors must be kept in mind during each intervention and feedback from clients is not completely candid. Though psychotherapists are paid to improve the lives of those they treat, most see their careers as a calling and genuinely enjoy helping people in distress. 

The Cognitive, Emotional, and Relational Characteristics of Master Therapists Len Jennings & Thomas M.Skovholt, Journal of Counseling Psychology 1999, Vol.46, No. 1, 3-11

Research Quotes:

The therapeutic alliance is considered to play a central role in producing effective psychotherapy outcomes. The quality of the counseling relationship has consistently been found to have the most significant impact on successful client outcome. Effective therapists are more self-controlled and sympathetic toward others compared with less effective therapists. Effective therapists hold more positive attitudes toward themselves, clients, most people, and therapy than do ineffective therapists. Highly effective therapists report greater job satisfaction than do less effective therapists.

The major agent of effective psychotherapy is the personality of the therapist, particularly the ability to form a warm and supportive relationship.

Hillerbrand (1989) defined the expert therapist as a person who is able to conceptualize clients, integrate factual information into performance, and recognize interpersonal processes.  Expertise consists of the cognitive skills of comprehension and problem solving.  That is, the ability to identify and understand incoming information and then cognitively process this information for the purpose of reaching a conclusion or solution.

Expert therapists have more complex schemata and tend to notice more subtle features of problems than novice therapists.

Years of experience has not been found to clearly differentiate levels of expertise.

The term master therapist is used frequently in the mental health lexicon to describe therapists considered to be the “best of the best.”

Interview Questions for Master Therapists

1.   How are you different from when you started your career?

2.   What distinguishes a good therapist from a great therapist?

3.   What do you think are the characteristics of a master therapist?

4.   To become a master therapist, does one need years of experience? Explain.

5.   Given two equally experienced therapists, why does one become an expert whereas the other remains mediocre?

6.  What is particularly “therapeutic” about you?

7.  Is there one distinguishing aspect of your expertise?

8.  How does your emotional health impact the therapy you do?

9.  How does the person you are impact the therapy you do?

10  How do you know when you are doing a good job with a client?

11.Are you helpful with some clients and not others? Explain.

12. Can you estimate what percentage of your clients you have helped?

13. What is psychotherapy?

14. How does psychotherapy heal?

15. How much of psychotherapy is an art versus a science?  

Key attribute areas of Master Therapists


1. Master therapists are voracious learners.  Continuous professional development seems to be the hallmark of the master therapist.

2. Accumulated experiences have become a major resource for master therapists.  Over time, the respondents, with an average of 29.5 years of professional experience, have rich life and work experiences upon which they draw in their work.  These experiences seem to have increased respondents’ depth and competence as human beings and mental health practitioners.

3. Master therapists value cognitive complexity and the ambiguity of the human condition. Respondents do not merely tolerate ambiguity and complexity, they seek it out. 

4. Master therapists appear to have emotional receptivity defined as being self-aware, reflective, non-defensive, and open to feedback. 

5. Master therapists seem to be mentally healthy and mature individuals who attend to their own emotional well –being.  As one indicator of emotional health, respondents strive to act congruently in their personal and professional lives.

6. Master therapists are aware of how their emotional health affects the quality of their work.


7. Master therapists possess strong relationship skills.

8. Master therapists believe that the foundation for therapeutic change is a strong working alliance.

9. Master therapists appear to be experts at using their exceptional relationship skills in therapy.  Not only do respondents provide safety and support, but they can also challenge clients when necessary.

Internet Links

I have read most of Scott Miller’s work and have seen him in action. Heart and Soul of Change puts just about everything to do with effective psychotherapy in perspective.  Read the book and visit his website; you’ll have difficulty finding anything more clinically relevant and useful in the field of psychotherapy.

Psychotherapy Networker

I have subscribed to this excellent professional publication for more than a decade and highly recommend it. Not only will you be kept up to date in terms of therapeutic approaches but will be able to compare your skills to the master psychotherapists who contribute articles.  Brilliant!

Innovations in Clinical Practice

Access to these volumes provides a starting point in evaluating and treating nearly any psychological condition.  Explore the Table of Contents.

Self-Help and Professional Books

Authoritative Guide to Self-Help Resources in Mental Health, Revised Edition:  John C. Norcross et al.

Current Topics in Psychology

Canadian Psychological Association

American Psychological Association


The Nature of
A safe harbour in a
chaotic world within
which to regain
your balance.

Jeff Kuryk

















To lead the
people, walk
behind them”
Lao Tzu

















What is
necessary to
change a person
is to change his
awareness of

Abraham Maslow

















We may
therapy as a
search for
Abraham Maslow