Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

SPRISTAD: A collaborative study of development in psychotherapy trainees

The study aims (1) to track progressive changes over time in trainees, and (2) to identify influences that facilitate or impede trainee development. Systematic information will be gathered on the characteristics of trainees and training programs, focusing particularly on trainees’ experiences in clinical practice and supervision.

2017 - 2020
Kim de Jong

The Netherlands has three BIG registered training programs (GZ-psycholoog, Psychotherapeut, Klinisch Psycholoog) for psychologists, given in five training centers. Yearly, almost 1000 therapists are trained. Relatively little is known about how therapists develop during their training, and which skills and competencies develop during which part of the training. The need for a longitudinal study of trainee development was highlighted in a recent and extensive scholarly review of extant research on training and supervision (Hill & Knox, 2013). Among the conclusions, those authors recommended: “Multisite longitudinal studies need to be conducted, including careful recording of amounts, types, and quality of training and supervision. In such studies, the amount and quality of personal therapy, personal relationships, and major life events also need to be recorded, because such variables likely interact with the effects of training and supervision” (p. 803).

The Dutch study is part of an international study within the Society for Psychotherapy Special Interest Group on Therapist-Training and Development (SPRISTAD), and takes place a wide range of countries worldwide, including Norway, Germany, and the USA. The Dutch training system differs substantially from other training systems. Many countries have combined clinical training with obtaining a doctoral degree, but in the Netherlands a PhD is separate from clinical training. As such, it will be interesting to compare data from different countries to see where differences and similarities occur. Participants will be measured every six months during their first year of training, and once a year thereafter. The study is set up as an umbrella study, and participants can be invited for associated studies that zoom in on particular aspects of the training or study different aspects of therapist development.


Kim de Jong (Leiden University) is the research coordinator for the Netherlands. The Dutch project is conducted in collaboration with Katie Aafjes-van Doorn (Adelphi University).

The international steering committee consists of:

  • Prof. dr. D. Orlinsky, University of Chicago, USA
  • Prof. dr. B. Strauss, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany
  • Prof. dr. H. Ronnestad, University of Oslo, Norway
  • Prof. dr. U. Willutzki, University of Witten


In the Netherlands, we have partnered with RINO Amsterdam, RINO Zuid, PPO, SPON, and RINO Groep.


Inclusion will take place from September 2017 until March 2020. Participants will be followed throughout their BIG training program (max. 4 years).

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