Specialist registrars in psychotherapy, at various stages of their training, attended a 1-day experiential group relations conference. The aim was to provide a training context in which trainees could reflect, through direct experience, on their capacity for leadership and teamwork, and the difficulties in taking up one's own authority in role.
Participants rated (on a 5-point Likert scale) the various structured elements of the conference as being greater than moderately useful for their learning. At 9-month follow-up, median scores were 4, indicating that the conference had a moderate to high impact on the participants' learning in four key dimensions: effective communication, taking up a leadership role, dealing with task-and role-related anxiety, and containing others' psychological projections.
There is often little time to reflect on one's experiences or behaviour in professional environment. The study demonstrates that learning about one's behaviour, capacity for leadership, performing various roles and the ability to act with authority, in a facilitated experiential learning environment can make a significant contribution to the development of future consultant psychiatrists in psychotherapy. In the light of the new curriculum (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2006), this training model may facilitate the achievement of core and general competencies for all trainee psychiatrists.
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