Lifelong learning and the structure of professionals' thinking, on the example of case conceptualisation

Date13 April 2020
Publication Date13 April 2020
AuthorAnna Słysz,Piotr Haładziński,Piotr Kaczmarek
SubjectHealth & social care,Mental health,Mental health education
Lifelong learning and the structure of
professionalsthinking, on the example
of case conceptualisation
Anna Słysz, Piotr Haładzi
nski and Piotr Kaczmarek
Purpose The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between the elements of
psychotherapists’ informal educationand features of concept maps reflecting the properties of thinking
Design/methodology/approach To study the structure of professional thinking, a complex diagnostic
task (computer-aided conceptual mapping task) was used. The diagnostic task consisted of categorising
the client’s statements, presenting relations between the categories and concept maps accounting for
problems reported by the client and contributing factorsand links between them.
Findings The obtained results showed that self-education, through participation in scientific
conferences and attending trainingcourses, was significantly associated with the number of perceived
causal relationships between categories and the number of perceived reciprocal links between
Originality/value This research show factors which may contribute to more reliable case
conceptualisation in psychotherapy. The method used to measure integrative complexity was
Keywords Lifelong learning, Integrative complexity, Concept map, Case conceptualisation,
Thinking structure
Paper type Research paper
Lifelong learning contains activities initiated by individuals to promote learning (Taylor and
Neimeyer, 2015). Continuing to engage with education in adulthood is seen as being
beneficial to learners. For instance, psychologists who are more engaged in lifelong learning
also reported higher levels of professional competence (Taylor and Neimeyer, 2015). Some
research indicated that teaching systematic assessment skills can increase therapists’
cognitive complexity (Duys and Hedstrom,2000;Little et al.,2005). Results of other research
studies indicate that professional experience in psychotherapy, reading scientific papers,
therapists’ personal life experience and case discussions have the most positive impact on
development of psychotherapists’ professional competence (Kumaria et al.,2018). We
aimed to explore whether the structure of professionals’ thinking, especially integrative
complexity, is influenced by lifelong learningand education.
Integrative complexity includestwo aspects:
1. differentiation, which refers to the extent of perceiving a variety of dimensions and
perspectives when considering an issue; and
2. integration, which refers to the conceptual connections among these different
dimensions and aspects (Be
´s and Suedfeld, 2019).
Anna Słysz and
Piotr Haładzi
nski both are
based at the Department of
Psychology and Cognitive
Science, Adam Mickiewicz
University, Pozna
n, Poland.
Piotr Kaczmarek is based
at the Institute of Robotics
and Machine Intelligence,
n University of
Technology, Pozna
Received 28 December 2019
Revised 15 March 2020
Accepted 19 March 2020
The research presented here
was done by authors as part of
the project funded by the
National Science Centre in
Poland granted according to
decision UMO-2013/11/B/HS6/
DOI 10.1108/JMHTEP-12-2019-0066 VOL. 15 NO. 3 2020, pp. 181-190, ©Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 1755-6228 jTHE JOURNAL OFMENTAL HEALTH TRAINING, EDUCATION AND PRACTICE jPAGE 181

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