Sunday, December 02, 2007

Strathclyde Research Clinic Starts Seeing Clients

Entry for 29 November 2007:

After months of trying to figure out how to recruit clients for our two research protocols, Lorna and Brian finally contacted the Tom Allen Centre, a local voluntary (i.e., nonprofit) counselling agency. It turns out that, like many other similar agencies, they have a several-month waiting list. They agreed to provide clients on their waiting list with information about the Research Clinic.

As a result, beginning last week, clients have begun contacting us about both research protocols. Suddenly, we are in business! Since then, we have been receiving a steady stream of 1 or 2 new client contacts per day. Starting a new mental health agency, which is what we are, involves quite a bit of organizing, and there are many procedures and processes still being sorted. This is complicated by the fact that we are running two related but different research protocols. With lots of consultation from me, Brian and Diane have been trying out our phone pre-screening and intake screening procedures for each of the two protocols. They are getting the hang of the phone pre-screening, and are learning the ins and outs (sometimes the ups and downs) of the Personal Questionnaire (both protocols) and the SCID (social anxiety protocol). Next, they will take on the PDQ-4, the questionnaire-cum-structured interview we use to identify dysfunctional personality processes.

In the meantime, we have been interviewing and training 4 students for work in the Research Clinic as part of a counselling opportunity experience. Two students have already started and are being trained in the various procedures; we hope that the other two will begin soon, given that we are rapidly accumulating clients to be screened and counselled. We hope that they will be able to start seeing clients by next week. Diane and Brian are just ahead of them, sorting the procedures out and finding them clients.

There is a great deal of potential here: large numbers of clients to be seen, and counselors at various stages of training (including the folks in various stages of EFT training) interested in seeing clients in the two protocols. We are having to make lists of priorities for who gets to see clients, in what order.

There is much to do to get the Research Clinic really up and running: Details of supervision will have to be sorted. Filing systems, and methods of tracking (and not losing track of) clients need to be organized. Copies of the various research instruments are being made and assembled into packets. Next, rotas for phone pre-screenings and intakes need to be organized, and coverage of the research clinic at different hours and days, including evening hours, will have to be sorted. Space will quickly be at a premium, which means that overflow space and additional recording equipment will need to be acquired.

And those are just the immediate tasks: Beyond the logistics of seeing clients, we now need to set up regular staff meetings for managing all this; put in place practical procedures for implementing our data storage plans (e.g., making regular use of our secure video data storage system); and begin entering research data. The process of developing student research projects based in the research clinic has already begun.

Clearly, starting and managing a research clinic is a major commitment and a lot of work; but after the long wait to begin, it also a relief. Moreover, it is also energizing and exciting to return to the active interface between research and practice, to be able to touch into people’s lives, and to connect to the power of the relationship and the change processes that unfold in person-centred/experiential therapy.

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