The impact of Australian psychologists' education, beliefs, theoretical understanding, and attachment on the use and implementation of exposure therapy

Clancy Rowe, Maria Kangas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The objective of this study was to investigate the relative contributions of university education, exposure specific training, and beliefs about exposure therapy (ET) in relation to the frequency, duration, and intense delivery of ET by Australian psychologists. Associations between clinicians' use of and theoretical conceptualisation of ET, and attachment style were also evaluated. A total of 115 Australian psychologists (N = 94 females) completed an online survey. Findings revealed that a majority of participants used cognitive behaviour therapy (93%) and ET (88%) to treat anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder. The majority who used ET (90%) reported using therapist-assisted in vivo exposure with clients. Findings also showed that therapists spend 42% of session time on exposure. Moreover, therapists who reported more comprehensive training had more positive beliefs about ET. Positive beliefs about ET, and clearer conceptualisation of treatment, were related to greater use and more intense implementation of ET. Psychologists with a more preoccupied or dismissive attachment style were less likely to deliver intense ET. The findings suggest that ET-specific training may be a powerful medium to improving the adoption and application of ET. Clinician's theoretical conceptualisation of ET and interpersonal attachment style are also worthy targets for future research and training in ET.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-170
Number of pages20
JournalBehaviour Change
Volume37
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020

Keywords

  • attachment style
  • beliefs
  • exposure therapy
  • mechanisms of change
  • training

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