Christian Gaden Jensen
Purpose. The Centre for Mental Health Promotion (CMHP) collaborates with 12 Danish municipalities employing about 50 psychologists, each year providing treatments for 2,500 adults and adolescents with severe stress. These psychologists are certified in stress treatment education by the CMHP. This project aimed to improve the education with respect to especially two aspects: First, the theoretical parts of the education were largely based on monological 3-hr talks by the CMHP centre director and included a 1000-pages largely scientific curriculum. A concern was that this did not yield optimal learning, since the sessions were experienced as very intensive and some psychologists were less prepared and active. Thus, long-time theoretical learning and clinical integration might be limited. Another concern was that the curriculum was too scientific. Some psychologists found research papers difficult to read and translate into clinical guidance. Secondly, more use of online learning materials was hypothesized to present an improvement since e.g., online videos of clinical situations would increase psychologists’ opportunities to practice principles and tools outside clinical training days.
Methods. Quantitative and qualitative feedback questionnaires and oral feedback was completed by three previously educated psychologists to test the two main hypotheses. The curriculum was reduced and clinical texts prioritized. Theoretical sessions presented materials more dialogically and preparation was emphasized more, e.g., with between-session activities. Ten online videos of clinical practices were produced.
Findings. Three psychologists participated in the revised education – an unusually small group. One did not complete the education. All provided feedback. The education revision revealed several interesting dilemmas. First, the smaller group of three psychologists presented a different teaching environment facilitative of dialogue in itself. The less monological theoretical sessions furthered this tendency. The new psychologists reflected much more on the material and deeper discussions concerning evidence-based practice and theoretical themes often arised. However, this also presented challenges with respect to covering the curriculum, even though this was reduced with 25%. Quantitative evaluations showed a tendency towards higher satisfaction with better preparation across all psychologists but revealed no differences between previous and current educational groups. Tests of psychologists’ theoretical or practical abilities were not included. The new psychologists especially appreciated the dialogical theoretical sessions. The online materials were evaluated as useful but might be further improved by including more life-like situations. Expanding the overall time frame for the education might be useful as well as more use of OBL with respect to the theoretical contents.