This study explores the experiential process of psychotherapists during a session with a currently depressive client. Method: Individual and focus group interviews were conducted with 30 therapists and the grounded theory method was used as a methodological framework. Results: The therapists’ experience was conceptualized as experiential oscillation between getting closer to a client’s depressive experience and moving away from it. Its development over the course of a session is depicted by a six-phase Depression Co-experiencing Trejectory model. Conclusions: The resultant theory interconnects different therapists’ emotional responses to a depressive client within a coherent process model, which allows us to track the changes in therapists’ experiences, to name the relations between them, and to connect them with the therapy’s in-session microprocesses.
Keywords: Depression; therapists’ experience; therapeutic relationship; countertransference; grounded theory method.