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Comparing characteristics, practices and experiential skills of mental health practitioners in New Zealand and Singapore : implications for Chinese clients and cognitive behaviour therapy : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
This study compared the characteristics, self-reported practices and experiential skills of mental health practitioners (MHPs) in New Zealand and Singapore with the aim of benefiting both nations in managing the mentally ill. A mixed-research design was used consisting of a mail questionnaire survey and a structured interview. For each country, mail questionnaires were sent to 300 MHPs, namely, counsellors, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, and social workers, while structured interviews were held with 12 MHPs. Potential participants were drawn from available electronic or printed publications on counselling and psychotherapy services in both countries. Those drawn from individual listings of MHPs were systematically sampled, whereas those drawn from organisational listings of MHPs were sampled by way of estimation. Despite the relatively low response rates of 20% to 27% from the participants of the mail questionnaire, the major findings were supported and augmented by those from the structured interviews in the combined analysis of results. Results were categorised into personal, professional and practice characteristics of MHPs. Personal characteristics included demographic characteristics. Professional characteristics included training characteristics, primary job affiliation and use of Western therapy models and interventions. Practice characteristics were sub-divided into five categories: practice setting; diagnostic system and assessment procedures; client and caseload; gender/ethnic match; and experiential skills. Similarities in personal and demographic characteristics between MHPs of both New Zealand and Singapore were found with respect to gender, ethnicity, and language ability. Differences in these characteristics were found with respect to age range and religious affiliation. Similarities in professional characteristics between MHPs of both countries were found with respect to country of therapy training, qualification in therapy, number of years of supervised training received, and use of Western therapy models and interventions. Differences in these characteristics were found with respect to primary job affiliation, availability of clinical psychology programmes, years of experience in therapy, and registration of practice. Similarities in practice characteristics between MHPs of both countries were found with respect to relevance of therapy models, focus of practice, diagnostic system and use of assessment procedures, clients seen, clients' presenting problems, and gender/ethnic match. Differences in these characteristics were found with respect to preferences of therapy models, and average number of sessions per client. Similarities in experiential skills between MHPs of both countries were found with respect to handling of self-disclosure, religious or spiritual issues, and traditional healers. Implications for Chinese clients and cognitive behaviour therapy were discussed, as well as limitations of the study.
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Paper titled, "Practitioner characteristics with comparison of counselling and
psychotherapy practices between New Zealand and Singapore mental health
practitioners" was presented and published in the proceedings of The Inaugural
International Asian Health Conference, at the University of Auckland, 4-5
2. Workshop cum paper titled, " A modified cognitive behavioural therapy model for
working with Chinese people" was also presented and published in the above
3. Abstract on paper titled, "Integrating homework assignments based on culture:
Working with Chinese patients" was accepted in April 2006 for publication in the
Cognitive and Behavioral Practice.
4. Paper titled, "Cultural considerations in using cognitive behaviour therapy with
Chinese people: A case study of an elderly Chinese woman with generalised
anxiety disorder", was published in November 2006 in the New Zealand Journal
oj Counselling, Volume 35(3), 1 53- 1 62, and presented at the 29th National
Conference of the Australian Association for Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 1 8-
20 October 2006, under the title "Cultural considerations for Chinese people:
Implications for CBT".
5. Abstract on paper titled, "Cognitive behaviour therapy in New Zealand and
S ingapore : From a doctoral study and personal experience" was presented and
published (in a book of abstracts) at the 1 st Asian Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
(CBT) Conference: Evidence-based Assessment, Theory and Treatment, at The
Chinese University of Hong Kong, 28-30 May 2006.
6. Paper titled, "CounsellinglPsychotherapy with Chinese Singaporean clients" was
published in 2006 in the Asian Journal oj Counselling, Volume 1 3(2), 27 1 -293 .