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Professional Development Plan in Psychotherapy Research Paper


As a nurse, I have such strengths associated with psychotherapy course student learning objectives as the implementation of evidence-based practice and guidelines as well as experience in planning educational interventions to increase patients’ awareness of their health problems. The first strength relates to the consideration of evidence-based research and its application in the context of a patient’s cultural background, family history, along with specific needs and expectations. Consistent with Corey and Corey (2013), I consider that relationship creation between a psychotherapist and a patient is a paramount goal in receiving positive clinical outcomes. Since the identified course also implies the construction of evidence-based care plans, I believe that my experience will be helpful. The second strong point of providing educational interventions was mastered by me while working with patients and explaining to them the essence of diseases. In psychotherapy, patients expect understanding of their mental conditions and the subsequent aid in addressing challenges. Accordingly, educational sessions are of great importance to meet patients’ needs in diagnosis and treatment comprehension.

Along with my strengths, it is critical to outline some knowledge deficits. I have insufficient knowledge in risk assessment for homicide, suicide, and other similar mental states. Suicide ideation prediction and early identification of perceived burdensomeness are likely to prevent adverse consequences as noted by Ma, Batterham, Calear, and Han (2016). In this regard, I need to improve my awareness of the above issues. My second knowledge deficit refers to complete mental status examination that should integrate cognitive functioning, stress and anxiety levels, concentration, perceptual processes, and plenty of other significant aspects pertinent to a particular patient. In my opinion, I need more relevant information and guidance on how to collect and interpret the mentioned data, thus creating a comprehensive patient evaluation and promoting the subsequent treatment planning. Proper patient assessment skills are likely to help me in providing individual and group therapy to assist patients in addressing one or another mental difficulty (Wheeler, 2013). The development of therapeutic relationships also seems to be dependent on adequate and comprehensive patient evaluation.


My first learning goal in terms of the given psychotherapy course is receiving new knowledge and skills along with their further application in practice. I would like to learn about theories, strategies, and instruments in the field of psychotherapy, focusing on assessment, planning, and implementing processes. The above goal also implies the consideration of various mental disorders in adults and children, both in individual and group therapeutic sessions (Prochaska & Norcross, 2018). It is of paramount importance to master the application of relevant theories and interventions in order to utilize them effectively and achieve best patient health outcomes possible. By understanding the foundations of psychotherapy, I would be able to assess patients and provide appropriate treatment.

The second goal I would like to note is to learn about the influence of chronic and acute medical conditions on psychiatric treatment. In particular, I will strive to understand how to approach different mental disorders and consider them specifically in terms of psychotherapy. The accomplishment of the above goal may be measured by the level of mastering my knowledge and skills in diagnosing patients. The successful alignment of the theory and practice will illustrate that I have achieved this goal. In addition, my ability to formulate detailed and comprehensive care plans for different patients will also reflect my progress in professional development.

Action and Evaluation Sections

Actions Section

I had set two goals for this program at the start of the semester. I planned to increase my skill level in psychotherapy from 2/10 to 7/10 by the end of the course. I used multiple interventions to attain this goal. The first one was reading core texts and other materials to learn about counseling theories, interventions, and tools as well as methods in patient assessment and treatment. I acquired skills of how to create an atmosphere of openness, respect, and empathy in a group set up to promote member interaction and client change (Corey & Corey, 2013). From Wheeler’s (2013) text, I learned evidence-based approaches to interpersonal therapy and CBT, helping traumatized patients, and different diagnostic tools, among others. Another intervention I used to achieve this goal was observing my preceptors and practicing with them during therapy sessions. Through my clinical internship, I gained practical skills in planning and implementing appropriate treatments, handling diverse clients, and self-monitoring.

To meet my second goal, I engaged in multiple direct service activities. The first one was skills training to teach clients coping tactics and help them perform daily self-care activities. I collaborated with my preceptor in developing and reviewing at least two comprehensive care plans per week. I was exposed to case management and referral of patients with chronic and acute medical conditions that impact their psychiatric treatments. Additionally, I used formal intake assessment for clients presenting with diverse problems. The screening was followed by case formulation and development of therapy goals and interventions (Easterbrook & Meehan, 2017). I was able to carry each client through an average of 4-5 sessions.

Evaluation Section

Meeting Each Goal and Why

In light of the above actions, I can state that I have met the first learning goal that I set out at the start of the semester. The reason for making this claim is that I have gained general skills in individual and group psychotherapy and empirical knowledge in intake assessment and treatment planning. I have also acquired experience in utilizing different theoretical models and interventions to help with client growth. I can now rate my competency in psychotherapy at 7/10, which is a significant improvement from a rating of 2/10 when I began my clinical internship.

I have also met my second goal of learning about chronic and acute medical conditions and their impact on treatment outcomes. Through exposure to direct service activities, such as skills training, preceptor-guided development of care plans, case management and referral, and formal intake assessment, I can now handle clients with diverse needs and concerns. I have acquired competencies in providing individual and group psychotherapy.

Changes to the Plan

My proposed change to my professional development plan (PDP) entails including self-improvement goals. I should focus on improving my emotional and cultural intelligence as a part of my PDP. According to Cartwright, Rhodes, King, and Shires (2014), an increased awareness of the self can help reduce the effects of counter-transference, resulting in effective therapeutic relationships. I feel that personal beliefs impact my effectiveness in offering emotional and culture-sensitive support to clients. I believe that it is my professional obligation to acquire skills on how to treat patients from different cultures. Therefore, I should include cultural and emotional competence goals in my PDP. Another change I should consider is working with children to gain experience in this area. I would like to set goals in pediatric psychotherapy in my PDP and strive to achieve them.


Cartwright, C., Rhodes, P., King, R., & Shires, A. (2014) Experiences of countertransference: Reports of clinical psychology students: Countertransference and psychology training. Australian Psychologist, 49(4), 232-240. Web.

Corey, M. S., & Corey, G. (2013). Groups: Process and practice (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks Cole.

Easterbrook, C. J., & Meehan, T. (2017). The therapeutic relationship and cognitive behavioural therapy: A case study of an adolescent girl with depression. The European Journal of Counselling Psychology, 6(1), 1-24. Web.

Ma, J., Batterham, P. J., Calear, A. L., & Han, J. (2016). A systematic review of the predictions of the Interpersonal–Psychological theory of suicidal behavior. Clinical Psychology Review, 46, 34-45. Web.

Prochaska, J. O., & Norcross, J. C. (2018). Systems of psychotherapy: A transtheoretical analysis (9th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Wheeler, K. (2013). Psychotherapy for the advanced practice psychiatric nurse (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.

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