Five years ago, I was having a really hard time at my previous job, and as a way of getting some space from departmental politics, was offered the opportunity to work for 8 weeks a year for two years as a guest professor at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL), in Belgium. My old friend Germain Lietaer was retiring and they needed someone to teach a course on psychotherapy, help supervise a couple of their PhD students, and help strengthen the research component of their parttime Person-Centred-Experiential (PCE) therapy postgraduate course. We arranged that I would come 4 times a year for two weeks at a time, and that I would teach the course partly as a distance learning course. There then followed a rather crazy schedule in which on top of my teaching at the University of Toledo, I kept sloping off to Belgium where I had this other life.
Among other things, I started studying Dutch. For one of the visits, Diane and Kenneth came along, and we all did a privately-tutored two-week intensive course in Dutch, during which we would have long arguments about grammar and syntax and theories of language learning. I guess you could think of it as a peculiar form of Extreme Family Vacation.
One of things I worked on over those two years was the development of a protocol for an empirical single case study requirement in the PCE therapy course. Nele Stinckens was (and is) the director of the course and we began working together on this project. Nele is very organized, bright Flemish psychologist with a puckish sense of humor and a strong sense of herself. She asked one of her clients to be a demonstration case study and provided a professional example of what we were asking the students to do. I did a presentation on one of my case studies (the client with the bridge phobia; the write-up has also just been published). We worked with the students to help keep them moving and to help them deal with their stuck places, of which there were many. We presented our ongoing work at several conferences, and eventually wrote it up. This is the article that emerged out of that collaboration and my two years at KUL. It is a real pleasure to see it appear in print.
Abstract: The goal of the Leuven systematic case-study research protocol project is to stimulate practice-oriented research in order to bridge the gap between research and practice. In this article we give a progress report of the project, in which a set of Dutch-language research instruments was created and tested with postgraduate trainees in Person-Centred/Experiential therapy at the University in Leuven (Belgium). We begin by presenting the general framework for the protocol, including the three major domains of therapy process, therapy outcome and client/therapist characteristics. Then, we give an overview of the quantitative and qualitative instruments used. We explain how the project has been implemented in the postgraduate programme. To evaluate the success of the project, we analyzed the answers of our trainees on a questionnaire. We give an overview of the clinical cases involved and the variety of research questions that have been formulated in the individual case-studies. Finally we discuss the value of this pilot project.
Reference: Stinckens, N., Elliott, R., & Leijssen, M. (2009). Bridging the Gap Between Therapy Research and Practice in a Person-Centered/Experiential Therapy Training Program: The Leuven Systematic Case-study Research Protocol. Person-Centred and Experiential Psychotherapies, 8, 143-162.