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  • This article was downloaded by: [University of Bath]On: 26 November 2014, At: 05:09Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House,37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Counselling and Psychotherapy Research: Linkingresearch with practicePublication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:

    Psychological mindedness and therapist attributesBecky Daw a & Stephen Joseph ba St Mary's CAMHS , Paddington Green , London, UKb School of Sociology and Social Policy , University of Nottingham , UKPublished online: 12 Oct 2009.

    To cite this article: Becky Daw & Stephen Joseph (2010) Psychological mindedness and therapist attributes, Counselling andPsychotherapy Research: Linking research with practice, 10:3, 233-236

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  • Psychological mindedness and therapist attributes


    1St Marys CAMHS, Paddington Green, London, UK, and 2School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of

    Nottingham, UK


    Background to study: Psychological Mindedness (PM) involves an interest in and ability to extract and make sense of

    psychological information (thoughts, feelings and behaviours) from a situation. The nature of the psychotherapeutic role

    and training demands therapists think about motives, distortions and inner experiences of others. Aims: This study

    empirically examined the association between PM and adaptive therapist attributes, clinician empathy, self understanding

    and the therapeutic relationship in practitioners. Method: Forty eight therapists responded to a postal questionnaire. Results:

    Statistically significant correlations were found between adaptive therapist attributes; empathy, the therapeutic relationship

    and level of self-understanding and PM.

    Keywords: Psychological Mindedness; therapeutic relationship; empathy


    Psychological Mindedness (PM) is defined as a

    degree of access to ones feelings that leads, through

    discussion of ones problems with others, to an

    ability to acquire insight into meaning and motiva-

    tion of ones own and others thoughts, feelings and

    behaviour, and to a capacity for change (Conte &

    Ratto, 1997, p. 21). Hence PM involves an interest

    in and ability to extract psychological information

    (thoughts, feelings and behaviours) from a scenario

    and note patterns or relationships among these

    concepts in trying to make sense of the experience,

    be it own or others.

    Psychotherapists are a group shown to be especially

    psychologically minded (Westen, Huebner, Boe-

    kamp, Lifton, & Silverman, 1991). The nature of

    the psychotherapeutic role and training demands

    therapists think about motives, distortions and inner

    experiences of others (Farber, 1985). Farber and

    colleagues recently questioned why psychotherapists

    chose their career, and suggest many people become

    psychotherapists as they have an especially strong

    need to understand others, are fascinated with human

    behaviour and enjoy the intellectual stimulation

    trying to understand people brings (Farber,

    Manevich, Metzer, & Saypol, 2005). They propose

    that many psychotherapists, early in life, begin to

    think about the whys of behaviour (Farber et al.,

    2005, p. 1016). This skill brings meaning to the

    psychotherapists own experiences, but also influ-

    ences their career path into mental health services.

    Many psychotherapists state that for them this is the

    one career that is really ego-syntonic, totally con-

    sistent with the way they have understood, behaved

    and felt all their life (Farber et al., 2005).

    PM is a central aspect of a psychotherapists life

    but one that has drawn little attention from the

    therapeutic community. The aim of this study is to

    investigate the association between PM and desir-

    able therapist attributes. We would expect that

    therapists who score higher on PM would be more

    empathic, more able to develop collaborative and

    affective working relationships and show greater self-




    Participants comprised of 48 qualified therapists

    who responded to a postal questionnaire distributed

    *Corresponding author. Email:

    Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, September 2010; 10(3): 233236

    ISSN 1473-3145 print/1746-1405 online # 2010 British Association for Counselling and PsychotherapyDOI: 10.1080/14733140903226982




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  • by the author (a 22% response rate). All therapists

    (10 males, 38 females) worked within the Midlands

    region of the UK. Ages ranged from 28 to 63 years

    (M42.9); 69% described themselves as marriedor living as married (n33), 19% as single/nevermarried (n9), 4% as separated (n2), 4% asdivorced (n2) and 4% as widowed (n2). Theracial composition of the sample was 98% Caucasian

    (n47), 2% Indian (n1). The sample had prac-ticed as qualified therapists for between 2 months

    and 32 years (M10.75 years); 71% of the sampledescribed their professional role as Clinical Psychol-

    ogist (n34), 17% as Counsellor (n8), 6% asOther (n3), 4% as Psychotherapist (n2) and2% as Counselling Psychologist (n1).


    A questionnaire was sent to all psychological thera-

    pists (n220) in three National Health ServiceTrusts in the West Midlands requesting their parti-

    cipation in research about clinical practice. Inter-

    ested practitioners were asked to complete the

    consent forms and return the questionnaire in an

    enclosed stamped, self-addressed envelope to the

    author. The first part of the questionnaire was used

    to collect qualitative data which we have reported

    elsewhere (see Daw & Joseph, 2007), the second

    part consisted of four widely used psychometric


    1. Psychological Mindedness Scale (PM: Conte et

    al., 1990) consists of 45 items (e.g. I am always

    curious about the reasons people behave as they do)

    each of which is rated on a 4 point scale that

    ranges from 1 (strongly disagree) to 4 (strongly

    agree). The total score is obtained by summing

    responses on all items, such that scores on the

    PM have a potential range of 45180.2. Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy Health

    Professional Version (JSPE HP; Hojat et al.,2002) consists of 20 items (e.g. I try to under-

    stand what is going on in my clients minds by

    paying attention to their non-verbal cues and body

    language) each of which is rated on a seven-

    point scale that ranges from 1 (strongly dis-

    agree) to 7 (strongly agree). The total score is

    calculated by summing responses on all items,

    such that scores have a potential range of 20140. Higher scores indicate a higher degree of

    empathy towards clients.

    3. Self-Understanding of Interpersonal Patterns

    (SUIP: Connolly et al., 1999) consists of 19

    items (e.g. I am very dependent on others for

    approval, and feel hurt when they reject me). The

    respondent answers either yes or no to each item

    to indicate whether the statement is relevant.

    For each item that is answered yes, the respon-

    dent then is asked to rate a four-point scale,

    where: 1I recognise that I feel and act this waywith a significant person in my life, but I dont

    know why; 2I can see that this experience hasbecome a pattern with multiple people in my life, but

    I dont know why; 3I am beginning to see a linkbetween these experiences and past relationship

    experiences, but the connection is not yet clear;

    4I can clearly see that I feel and act this waybecause of past relationship experiences. Thus, two

    scores are yielded; (1) the recognition score

    (SUIP RECOG) which is the sum of theproblems recognised


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