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Interdisciplinary collaboration : counsellors’ perceptions of collaboration experiences with psychiatrists on community mental health teams Goosen, Jennifer

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to describe counsellors' perceptions of their collaboration experiences with psychiatrists working in the context of a community mental health team. Specifically, perceptions of facilitating and impeding factors that influence collaboration were identified. Interpretive description (Thorne, Kirkham, & McDonald-Ernes, 1997), a qualitative methodology, was selected as the means of attaining descriptions of the collaboration process that would depict the commonalities among the participant sample while maintaining the unique experience of each individual. Participants included four female and four male Caucasian counsellors between the ages of 38 and 57 who possessed either an M.A. or M.Ed. degree and were currently working in a mental health team. The counsellors engaged in open-ended interviews in which they read an orienting statement and responded to the following directive: Talk about some of the particular collaboration experiences you have had with psychiatrists. Aspects of collaboration experiences fit into one of three general categories: 1) external-structural factors stemming from the work setting; 2) internal cognitive factors pertaining to counsellors' perceptions of psychiatrists and themselves; or 3) social-relational factors arising from communication styles and ways of interacting. The findings suggest that much of the quality of a collaborative interaction arises from the actual quality of the professional relationship. Findings are considered in relation to previous and future research, existing ethical codes, and counsellor training.

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