The willingness to engage in continuous professional development can be listed among the key features of an ambitious specialist who does not want to remain complacent. Professional growth is extremely important, and such practices as self-assessment and goal-setting can be helpful in improving one’s ability to cope with different work-related tasks. I identified two goals based on the results of psychiatric self-reflection in order to focus on skills and outcomes that need improvement. This paper places emphasis on actions taken to achieve the goals.
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To begin with, it was planned to improve my skills related to the third student learning outcome, the ability to perform risk assessment procedures. In order to achieve the above-mentioned goal, I used a variety of measures that involved both theory and practice. When it comes to theory, learning more about the key principles of risk assessment in psychotherapy, such as confidentiality and the absence of prejudiced attitudes, was the initial step taken to achieve the goal.
As for practice, I started by conducting my own research to understand what should be done to build more trustful relationships with clients and assess risks more accurately. It helped me to understand that controlling facial expressions is pivotal since some patients can misinterpret them and become less sincere. I used facial expression management techniques when assessing risks to avoid demonstrating any signs of amazement (especially when collecting data on patients’ sexual history, memories related to traumatic events, etc.). This strategy was used to improve risk assessment interventions and make reserved or depressed clients more sincere.
To achieve the second goal, it was necessary to learn more about cultural and financial factors and their relation to psychotherapeutic interventions. Understanding that the approach to talk therapy should reflect clients’ cultural background and financial situation, I designed a strategy to improve my cultural competence. For the most part, it included reading literature about ethnic minorities and problems that they usually have (including financial difficulties).
In order to incorporate that knowledge into practice and reach the goal, I worked with clients belonging to various ethnic groups such as African Americans, Asian Americans, American Indians, and others. Also, I tried to learn more about different cultures to reduce the harmful effect of stereotypes. Asking clients whether they associated themselves with their native culture and encouraging them to share honest opinions about certain traditions were actions helping to achieve the goal (Consoli, Beutler, & Bongar, 2017). The information on clients’ beliefs and attitudes toward family traditions was actively used to plan CBT sessions, perform mood checks, and understand the notions of right and wrong related to culture.
As it is clear from the action section, I tried to achieve the first goal by studying the principles of risk assessment and using that information in psychotherapeutic interventions. The ability to assess risks properly is inherent in well-developed interpersonal skills since the absence of trust can reduce the effectiveness of any interventions (Söchting, Tsai, & Ogrodniczuk, 2016). The actions described in the previous section enabled me to perform more accurate risk assessments because they had a positive impact on client sincerity.
For instance, when I started controlling my spontaneous non-verbal signs during sessions, many clients became more open emotionally and ventured upon sharing controversial facts that they used to disassemble. Thus, some patients with depression told me about the acts of self-harm and their thoughts about other taboo activities. This made it easier to identify high-risk patients and improve treatment strategies to focus on the sources of psychological pain widely discussed by modern researchers (Heisel, Talbot, King, Tu, & Duberstein, 2015). Due to these changes, I believe that I have managed to meet the goal.
The second objective was related to improving the ability to work with people from different backgrounds. As for me, the goal was partially achieved due to certain limitations that I could not control. In particular, ethnic composition differs in various parts of the country, and certain minority groups can be underrepresented among psychotherapeutic clients. Obviously, I did not have an opportunity to work with all ethnic minorities.
Despite this fact, the attempts to make sessions more culturally sensitive proved fruitful. For example, one of my clients was a Western European immigrant who had mood swings. In his native culture, people are not encouraged to show their emotions in public or smile at strangers for no reason, and the discussion of this fact helped him to assess his mood more properly. Along with other examples, this case demonstrates that cultural sensitivity clearly impacts psychotherapeutic outcomes.
Finally, certain changes could be made to increase the effectiveness of the plan. To start with, it would be beneficial to strike the right balance between theory and practice and focus on studying only practically relevant information. Apart from that, to improve risk assessment skills, even more, it could be necessary to collect more information on factors causing patient insincerity. I asked a few clients to describe habits or behaviors making psychotherapists look untrustworthy, but providing more accurate results would require using larger samples. Regardless of these potential changes, I consider the actual plan quite effective since it encouraged me to take a fresh look at many work-related situations.
Consoli, A. J., Beutler, L. E., & Bongar, B. (Eds.). (2017). Comprehensive textbook of psychotherapy: Theory and practice (2d ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Heisel, M. J., Talbot, N. L., King, D. A., Tu, X. M., & Duberstein, P. R. (2015). Adapting interpersonal psychotherapy for older adults at risk for suicide. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 23(1), 87-98.
Söchting, I., Tsai, M., & Ogrodniczuk, J. S. (2016). Patients’ perceptions of treatment credibility and their relation to the outcome of group CBT for depression. Archives of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, 4, 7-15.