The cognitive, emotional, and relational characteristics of master therapists

Len Jennings, Thomas M. Skovholt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


Cognitive, emotional, and relational characteristics among 10 peer- nominated master therapists were identified through qualitative research methods. Results suggest that master therapists (a) are voracious learners; (b) draw heavily on accumulated experiences; (c) value cognitive complexity and ambiguity; (d) are emotionally receptive; (e) are mentally healthy and mature and attend to their own emotional well-being; (f) are aware of how their emotional health impacts their work; (g) possess strong relationship skills; (h) believe in the working alliance; and (i) are experts at using their exceptional relational skills in therapy. These findings suggest that researchers studying therapist expertise may want to explore emotional and relational characteristics in addition to an almost exclusive focus on the therapist's cognitive attributes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-11
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of counseling psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1999


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