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Becoming a therapist in Bulgaria: A grounded developmental model

Nikolay L Mihaylov


Introduction:  The relative novelty of psychotherapy as practice and profession in Bulgaria allows for a therapist-centered study of the beginnings of psychotherapist careers. The existing models of psychotherapist career development focus on career factors or personal professional transformation. The current study builds upon developmental career models by examining closely the early stages of becoming a psychotherapist through the perspectives of therapists themselves.

Aim: This qualitative study explored how psychotherapists and counselors in Bulgaria choose their career path and how their experiences and interaction with context shape their professionalization.

Materials and Methods: Ten therapists were purposefully sampled to represent a diverse gamut of experiences and therapy modality. Data were collected through in-depth interviews and analyzed via a phenomenological and a grounded theory approach.

Results: A developmental model with seven elements was produced: Early Influences, The Passage to Therapy/Encounter with Therapy, Creating One’s Own Concept of Therapy, Choice of Therapy, Training, The Responsibility of the Tutor, and The Self-Awareness as a Therapist.

Conclusion: The grounded model is compared to a factor model and a personal-professional development model for psychotherapy career choice. Compared to their Western colleagues, Bulgarian psychotherapists follow similar pathways into the profession, but are more likely to engage in life-long learning.


psychotherapy; counseling; career selection; career development; psychotherapist development; counselor development

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About The Author

Nikolay L Mihaylov
Medical University of Varna

Department of Health Economics and Management, Faculty of Public Health

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