The Therapist’s Use Of Self

By John Rowan & Michael Jacobs


1 Introduction
Three ways of being a therapist

2 The instrumental self
Learning and applying the skills of therapy
Tabula rasa: countertransference as a barrier to therapy
The first level of empathy
Neutrality and abstinence

3 The authentic self
Psychodynamic concepts:
extending definitions of countertransference
Embodied countertransference
Projective identification
The second level of empathy
Intuition and imagination
The wounded healer

4 The transpersonal self
Beyond the personal
The person-centred perspective
The humanistic-existential perspective
The Jungian perspective
A third level of empathy
Not knowing – an alternative view of the transpersonal?
Some caveats

5 Training and supervision
Early views on training
Personal therapy
The dynamics of supervision
The use of self in supervision
The transpersonal in supervision Learning theoretical perspectives
Training and supervision: conformity or self-actualization?

6 A dialogue: the authors discuss the therapist’s use of self

Bibliography Index
Published by Open University Press November 2002 ISBN 0 335 20776 6 (pb) 0 335 20777 4 (hb)


“… a masterful exposition of transference, countertransference, and projective identification, throwing much needed light on topics that have long been mired in controversy and confusion. The book is a priceless resource for experienced therapists and those just beginning the journey.” Professor Sheldon Cashdan, author of Object Relations Therapy and The Witch Must Die: The Hidden Meaning of Fairy Tales.

“Rowan and Jacobs, each a master in his own field, have done a wonderful collaborative job. The book’s focus on what different ways of being a therapist really mean in practice guarantees its relevance for therapists of all schools (or none) and at every level.” Andrew Samuels, Professor of Analytical Psychology, University of Essex and Visiting Professor of Psychoanalytic Studies, Goldsmith’s College, University of London.

Like most of the other pairings of authors in this series, we come from different theoretical orientations. It was never a foregone conclusion that we would see eye to eye, but as we acknowledge in the final chapter, we have in fact learned much from each other in the writing of this book; and we can take some pleasure from our awareness that we have respected each other’s different emphases, which inevitably colour the way we have interpreted material from our own and other orientations. In the first five chapters we have presented as objective an argument as it is possible to do, given the normal bias in any writer. But we have had each other to prevent excesses of enthusiasm for a particular approach!
What we did not know, despite our researches, we could not obviously share with each other or with the reader. Bertrand Russell is said to have replied to a question, what he would tell God if after death he found himself before the judgement seat, ‘Why didn’t you make it clearer?’ We make no claims to omniscience, and it is certain that we have not covered everything that has been written on the subject.
We have each valued working with another person who takes meticulous care in getting the wording right, who ensures even in the draft stage that references (so important in a book such as this) are up-to-date and accurate, and who promptly returns amended material to the other. It has felt like a good model of co-operative work. The many references to the literature on the subject demonstrate how much we owe to those who have written on the subject. It has not been our primary aim to be original, but rather to record as accurately as possible the thinking about this set of concepts related to the use of the self in therapy. Nevertheless we hope that the particular slant we have given to the subject give this subject some originality in its presentation.

John Rowan Michael Jacobs
London Swanage, Dorset

Books by John Rowan

Blog Posts


To get in touch with Dr John Rowan, please email

Dr John Rowan
70 Kings Head Hill
North Chingford
London E4 7LY

Tel: 020 8524 7381