Learning and Adopting New Models of Practice

What Do We Need from Professional Development Opportunities?

In the numerous opportunities for personal development and training that are available to us as mental health professionals, it’s hard to know which to pay attention to and which to ignore! So how do we choose training opportunities that will engage us in the learning process, add to our knowledge, and “fit” with both our current practice and client and families’ needs? Following that, how do we incorporate this new knowledge into our existing clinical and work practice?

Research suggests that practitioners prefer training opportunities that include active learning strategies such as observation, feedback, supervision and behavioural rehearsal (Bedias & Kendall, 2010; Herschell, Kolko, Baumann, & Davis, 2010). Moreover, they want to be actively involved in their learning, and be provided with structured activities that push them to personally relate to materials (Nel, 2006; Piercy et al., 2016). When thinking about which training to undertake, practitioners also consider whether the new model of practice takes into account the complexity inherent in real world service settings (Aarons, 2004; Southam-Gerow et al., 2012). Aarons and Sawitsky (2006) interviewed clinical staff of a large public sector mental health system and found that they were more likely to adopt a new model if it matched their current theoretical orientation or preference for individual or family/group/systems therapy, was compatible with existing services, agency values and philosophy, and was transportable and adaptable.

At Bower Place, we consider the training needs and “real world practice” of our attendees when designing our professional development opportunities. Notably, our workshops often incorporate live client and family sessions that allow for presentation of issues of greater complexity and difficulty than those that might be presented during standard role-plays. Our practitioners work to the Bower Place Method, a comprehensive, multi-theoretical model for practice informed by family therapy theory, theories of development and change, neurobiology, and an understanding of inequality within therapeutic practice. This framework for working with system and problem complexity is flexible, adaptable, and provides protocols that can be integrated immediately into practitioners’ current work practice. Feedback from practitioners who have attended our training and adopted the Method suggests that it “complements and enhances (their existing) interventions”, and “invites many more opportunities for (client) change”.

If you would like to learn more about how the Method might be integrated into your current work and clinical practice, please contact info@bowerplace.com.au, or come along to our workshop outlined below.

Aarons, G. A. (2004). Mental health provider attitudes toward adoption of evidence-based practice: The Evidence-Based Practice Attitude Scale (EBPAS). Mental Health Services Research, 6(2), 61-74.
Aarons, G. A., & Sawitzky, A. C. (2006). Organizational culture and climate and mental health provider attitudes toward evidence-based practice. Psychological Services, 3(1), 61.
Beidas, R. S., & Kendall, P. C. (2010). Training therapists in evidence‐based practice: a critical review of studies from a systems‐contextual perspective. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 17(1), 1-30.
Herschell, A. D., Kolko, D. J., Baumann, B. L., & Davis, A. C. (2010). The role of therapist training in the implementation of psychosocial treatments: A review and critique with recommendations. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(4), 448-466.
Nel, P. W. (2006). Trainee perspectives on their family therapy training. Journal of Family Therapy, 28(3), 307-328.
Piercy, F. P., McWey, L. M., Tice, S., James, E. J., Morris, M., & Arthur, K. (2005). It was the best of times, it was the worst of times: Doctoral students’ experiences of family therapy research training through alternative forms of data representation. Family Process, 44(3), 363-378.
Southam-Gerow, M. A., Rodríguez, A., Chorpita, B. F., & Daleiden, E. L. (2012). Dissemination and implementation of evidence based treatments for youth: Challenges and recommendations. Professional Psychology-Research and Practice, 43(5), 527.