Personal and relational ideologies of master therapists


  • Barbara Hannigan
  • Tim van Wanrooij
  • Megan Gaffney
  • Jean Quigley


This original study used a descriptive and interpretative qualitative approach to analyse interview data from twelve world renowned master therapists and academics. They each have vast amounts of expertise in the profession of psychotherapy as demonstrated through their copious peer reviewed publications, development of therapeutic approaches, and their international contributions to the profession. Results yielded 4 domains including: 1) Personal Ideology; 2) Relational Ideology for Life in General; 3) Relational Ideology in Love and Romantic Relationship; 4) The Rewards and Risks of Personal and Relational Ideologies, with 6 main categories pertaining to the master therapists’ most fundamental values in their lives, careers, relationships, romantic encounters and notably, in how they consider their life’s work as their life’s legacy.  Finally, the risks and rewards arising from their ideologies are outlined. Participant accounts included the use of the term “purposeful rebellion” as a means to scientifically challenge flawed ideologies in the psychotherapy field and wider society. They reported experiencing deep, genuine care, and easiness in maintaining professional relationships with colleagues, peers, students, and with their clients. Their professional status feels immensely personal, and with this may come the consequence of an imbalance between work and life, especially in early career while aiming to become established and to influence and shape the profession. These findings overlap and expand upon previous studies of renowned therapists and suggest a synergy when it comes to the ideologies between their personal and professional selves.







How to Cite

Personal and relational ideologies of master therapists. (2023). European Journal for Qualitative Research in Psychotherapy, 13.