Psychotherapists Growing Older: A Study of Senior Practitioners

A sample of 1,102 psychotherapists aged 60 years and older was selected from the multinational database of the Society for Psychotherapy Research Collaborative Research Network.

Abstract

These older therapists were first described in terms of gender, generation, years in practice, civil status, professional background, and theoretical orientation. To compare them on practice-related characteristics with cohorts of younger therapists, the following age-based taxonomy was developed: young adult (21 < 30); prime adult (30 < 45); mature adult (45 < 60); senior adult (60 to 90). Senior adults were further differentiated into young old (60 to 66), mid old (67 to 74), and long old (75 to 90). Comparisons between therapist age groups were made regarding practice setting, quality of therapeutic involvement, current use of supervision and personal therapy, currently experienced professional growth, personal life quality, and perceived aspects of self in close personal relationships. Given a series of positive results favoring senior adults as a group, and even long old compared to young old, it is suggested that these hardy “surviving” therapists typically have succeeded in mastering the developmental tasks of previous phases of professional development.

Journal of Clinical Psychology, 2015, DOI: 10.1002/jclp.22223

Published Oct. 5, 2015 7:15 AM