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Impact of a Structured Reflective Program on Congruence and Burnout on Psychotherapists Open Access


Other title
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Whyte, Holly R
Supervisor and department
Truscott, Derek (Educational Psychology)
Examining committee member and department
Maynard, Ian (Centre for Sport and Exercise Science)
Johnston, Ingrid (Secondary Education)
Joyce, Anthony (Psychiatry)
Buck, George (Educational Psychology)
Whelton, William (Educational Psychology)
Cor, Mathew Kenneth (Pharmacy)
Department of Educational Psychology
Counselling Psychology
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Reflective practice is an important part of what distinguishes expert psychotherapists from their merely average peers. Therapists who engage in it regularly are more effective than those who do not (Cropley, Hanton, Miles, & Niven, 2010; Hoshmand, 1994; Parsons, 2009). One area of reflective practice in which psychotherapists may derive particular benefit is the promotion of personal-professional value congruence (Coster & Schwebel, 1997; Lindsay, Breckon, Thomas, & Maynard, 2007; Norcross, 2000). A congruent psychotherapist is able to ‘practice what they preach’ and provide consistent, purposeful, and intentional therapy. Therapy delivered in this manner not only improves the psychotherapist’s competence and effectiveness, but should also reduce burnout. The aim of this research study was to explore the impact of a reflective practice program on congruence, engagement, job satisfaction, and burnout in psychotherapists. It is hypothesized that reflection will enhance self-awareness which will in turn resolve value conflicts that increase the risk of burnout (Anderson, Knowles, & Gilbourne, 2004; Maslach, Leiter, & Schaufeli, 2001; Poczwardowski, Sherman, & Henschen, 1998). In order to test the hypothesis, an online course was employed in order to enable participation in 10 weeks of reflective practice. Participants were randomly assigned to either reflect on their personal-professional value congruence or their ethical practice, or to a delayed control group. Results of a split plot multivariate analysis of variance revealed that psychotherapists in the three experimental conditions experienced more congruence. Results of a mediation analysis revealed that congruence did not play an intervening role in the relationship between participant’s reflection scores and their level of burnout, engagement, and job satisfaction. However, the indirect analysis did find a relationship between reflection and engagement and job satisfaction in addition to a relationship between congruence and engagement and job satisfaction. Given these results, this research has (a) theoretical implications with respect to the Hawthorne effect, non specific factors, and expectancy theory, and (b) practice implications for individual psychotherapists, trainers of psychotherapists, and the practice of psychotherapy.
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