Patient’s failures and psychotherapist’s successes, or failure in psychotherapy in the eyes of a psychotherapist
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Klinika Psychiatrii, Uniwersytet Medyczny w Białymstoku
Aleksandra Małus   

Klinika Psychiatrii, Uniwersytet Medyczny w Białymstoku, Plac Brodowicza 1, 16-010 Choroszcz, Poland
Submission date: 2018-02-13
Final revision date: 2018-07-21
Acceptance date: 2018-07-24
Publication date: 2018-09-25
Arch Psych Psych 2018;20(3):31–41
Aim of the study:
To answer the question of what significance psychotherapists attach to failure.

Subject or material and methods:
The study group included 100 psychotherapists. A qualitative method (open questions) and a quantitative method (Self Confrontation Method by Hubert Hermans) were used. An analysis of psychotherapists' comprehension and experience of failure, and an analysis of emotions felt when succeeding or failing in psychotherapy were performed.

94% of psychotherapists declared that they experienced failures in the course of their professional work. The failures were accompanied by particularly negative emotions and were quantitatively and qualitatively different from the emotions felt when a patient's therapy was completed successfully. A failure was most frequently (76 out of 100 psychotherapists) perceived as premature termination of treatment by the patient where therapy cessation was attributed in 70% of cases to factors within the patient's control. Psychotherapists evaluated their competences highly - they claimed to possess qualities predisposing them to an average success rate of 73%. They rated their job satisfaction at the level of 80%. 61% of psychotherapists discussed their failures at counselling supervision meetings.

A tendency to preserve one's self-esteem and to strengthen one's self displayed by psychotherapists is evident in the process of analysing previously committed mistakes.

Psychotherapists experience failures and they are most frequently inclined to attribute them to factors within patients' control.