To read this content please select one of the options below:

Psychiatric training experiences in psychotherapy: integrating a psychological perspective into mental health care

Nicky Phillips (ST4 in General Adult Psychiatry at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Nottingham, UK)
Paul Leighton (Research Fellow in the NIHR Research Design Service for the East Midlands, Nottingham Integrated Clinical Research Centre, Nottingham, UK)
Rhona Sargeant (Consultant Psychiatrist at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, Nottingham, UK)

Mental Health Review Journal

ISSN: 1361-9322

Article publication date: 9 December 2011




This paper seeks to report upon psychiatric trainees' experience of providing psychodynamic therapy for the first time and their experience of group supervision.


A total of five trainees, undertaking training in psychodynamic therapies, were interviewed on multiple occasions over an 18‐month period – before, during, and after undertaking their first case of psychodynamic therapy. A semi‐structured, qualitative interview approach was used to explore providing psychodynamic psychotherapy and participating in psychodynamic supervision groups. Interviews were transcribed in full and data analysed following the conventions of thematic analysis.


Trainees' anxieties about working psychodynamically and their concerns for developing new competencies are recognised. Personal and professional challenges associated with this therapeutic approach are identified and the importance of ”looking after” trainees is stressed; the role of trainee supervision groups in this is advocated. The potential challenges of integrating psychodynamic thinking into general psychiatric practice are discussed and suggestions to address these difficulties are proposed.

Research limitations/implications

The small sample size reflects the total number of trainees participating in training at the time of the study; for future work, a larger sample drawn from multiple training centres would be recommended.


Training in psychotherapy is now mandatory for all trainee psychiatrists and this is something which many trainees find daunting; training in psychodynamic techniques is particularly challenging. A fuller awareness and understanding of trainees' experiences is important in nurturing clinicians who are competent in psychodynamic thinking, and who might consequently apply these skills clinically.



Phillips, N., Leighton, P. and Sargeant, R. (2011), "Psychiatric training experiences in psychotherapy: integrating a psychological perspective into mental health care", Mental Health Review Journal, Vol. 16 No. 4, pp. 167-176.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles