‘It was almost like the opposite of what I needed’: a qualitative exploration of client experiences of unhelpful therapy

Christine Bowie*, Julia McLeod, John McLeod

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: The issue of unhelpful and harmful therapy outcome has received an increasing amount of attention within the research literature in recent years. However, little research exists on the client's perspective of what constitutes unhelpful therapy.

Aim: The aim of this study was to explore clients’ experiences of unhelpful therapy.

Method: Semi-structured interviews were carried out with ten therapists who, as clients, experienced unhelpful therapy. Interview transcripts were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis.

Findings: Participants recounted therapy episodes characterised by an absence of negotiation, collaboration and care; pivotal moments when they knew that they would not return; and ongoing negative effects.

Conclusions: The findings of this study have implications for training and strategies for supporting clients who have been harmed by therapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-87
Number of pages9
JournalCounselling and Psychotherapy Research
Issue number2
Early online date23 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


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