In the study, published in Psychotherapy Theory, Research, Practice, Training, participants described changes that they felt improved the quality of their therapeutic alliances with their patients, increased their ability to work effectively with difficult patients, and increased their self-awareness. The results illustrated the importance of (1) in-depth models of continuing education, particularly at a time when the dominant model is the simple, didactic, one- to three-day conference; and (2) conducting effective evaluations of those models.
(1) Extent of change in participants' approach to the practice of psychotherapy:
8% of participants said their practice of therapy changed a moderate amount, 37% felt it had changed a great deal, and 45% indicated they had made major changes.
(2) Kinds of changes participants made in their therapeutic practice:
(a) an increased awareness of the importance of protecting and supporting the development of the interpersonal relationship
(b) an increased confidence in using the therapeutic relationship
(c) an increased awareness of the importance of focusing attention on the interpersonal space, the transference, countertransference, and working affectively in the “here and now” of the relationship)
(d) an increased understanding and confidence in using concepts related to intrapersonal dynamics that contribute heavily to the quality of the interpersonal relationship (e.g., states of mind, the internal object world).
(e) an increase in a number of specific therapeutic skills, including: (i) sensitivity to affective responses, (ii) ability to use the therapist-patient relationship for both assessment and therapeutic change, (iii) ability to tolerate, think about and contain difficult emotions, (iv) aliveness to the therapeutic sessions, (v) sense of being able to effect change in clients, and (vi) hope about the therapeutic process.
(3) Components of IPI's training model that most contributed to participants' changes:
In decreasing rank of importance:
(a) small affective groups
(c) assigned readings
(d) large group discussions
(e) plenary meetings
Participants said the small group experience facilitated the integration of the conceptual and theoretical material with affective content; brought the concepts to life as they were experienced in the group relationships; required learning on a deeply personal level rather than on just an intellectual and technical level; involved working in the small group with people who are focused on understanding the material in their lives as well as in the life of the group; and provided containment that allowed participants to take in new material and be changed by it.
(4) Did participants think that the focus on interpersonal processes improved the quality of the therapy they offered?
(a) Nearly all of the respondents thought their therapeutic effectiveness had increased, based on objective measures such as reduction in premature termination, low rate of clients who left after 1 to 3 visits, majority of patients becoming involved in long term therapy, and increased demand for their services. Respondents also said they had a subjective sense of emotional growth in their patients. The majority of respondents felt the training helped them think clearly and specifically, both about assessment issues and specific interventions.
(b) Nearly all respondents were “very glad” to have participated in the program. The most frequently cited benefit was an increased ability to handle difficult patients effectively. None were disappointed in the program. These results were consistent across the training cohorts.
Penny Jameson, in particular, is to be thanked for having the determination to see this study through to completion.
For an expanded unpublished version of the research report, click on the links below: