Perceived professional development among mental health practitioners in New Zealand : a thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Masters in Arts in Psychology at Massey University
Study of psychotherapy processes and outcomes has far outweighed study of its practitioners. New methodological advances in psychotherapy research have led to an increased emphasis on the role of therapist factors in ensuring successful psychotherapy outcome. Implicit in these methodological advances is the suggestion that the treatment procedures, and not the therapists delivering them, are ultimately the main determinants of successful treatment outcome. Although researchers have incorporated therapist years of practice or extent of training when evaluating psychotherapy, this is often misleading as it fails to consider what is actually done during those training and practice years of professional development. Unfortunately, only a few studies have examined mental health professionals' professional development, and little is currently known about the process of development over the course of a practitioner's career. This thesis is an extension of the Collaborative Research Network's study of mental health professionals' professional development to New Zealand. This thesis starts with a description of some recent advances in psychotherapy research, and how they have refocused the field's attention towards the role of the practitioner in influencing treatment outcomes. This is followed by a description of the existing theoretical and empirical work on practitioners' professional development, and an overview of existing methods of assessment. An outline of the CRN study aims and methods are then overviewed, before presenting and discussing the results of the New Zealand practitioner survey.