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Year : 2001  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 11-19

The Potential Utility of Problem-based Learning in the Education of Clinical Psychologists and Others

University of Newcastle, United Kingdom

Correspondence Address:
Dale Huey
Clinical Psychology, Ridley Building, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU
United Kingdom
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

Clinical psychologists, like most health professionals, are in essence clinical problem-solvers. However, dealing with mental health problems may necessitate a greater relative reliance upon inductive clinical reasoning during the problem-solving process. To develop a provisional problem formulation mental health professionals may have to make sense of the co-occurrence of complex and poorly delineated problems. Claims have been made, predominantly in the literature on medical education, regarding the utility of problem-based learning (PBL) for achieving aims central to the effective performance of this role. In this article, after characterizing clinical psychology and PBL, we briefly explore the benefits claimed for PBL and assert that the putative cognitive and interpersonal consequences of the approach may be particularly pertinent to mental health practice. Particular emphasis is placed upon the necessity of facilitating effective clinical reasoning, that is, teaching future practitioners how to, rather than what to, think about complex psychopathology. PBL is also considered in the wider context of models of experiential learning and methods for teaching problem-solving. Finally, future research questions are suggested which may provide answers relevant to the facilitation of effective clinical reasoning in all health professions.

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