Evaluation of psychotherapy procedures used by Vietnamese therapists
Wells, Ngoc-Quynh Nguyen
Psychotherapists are a critical component influencing psychotherapy outcome. Research on psychotherapy competence has predominantly been conducted in High Income Countries (HIC) such as the U.S., and to date no research in this area has been conducted in Asia, the most populous continent. The present study was conducted in the Asian country of Vietnam, and assessed: (a) demographic characteristics of Vietnamese psychotherapists, (b) therapists’ understanding of causes of mental health disorders, (c) appropriate use and understanding of evidence-based treatments, and (d) understanding of mechanisms of treatment. A sample of 62 psychotherapy providers who worked with adults in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Danang City, Vietnam participated in the study. In response to 1 of 4 clinical vignettes, psychotherapists reported what techniques or treatments they would use, how the technique worked, and what the causal factors were for the vignette client’s mental health problems. Responses were transcribed and rated for the extent to which the techniques and causal factors were evidence-based. In regards to demographic and professional characteristics, only slightly more than 50% of participants had a Master’s degree or higher. The mean years of professional experience was 7.0 years (SD=5.3). As hypothesized, therapists had scores on evidence-based techniques, mechanisms, and causal factors significantly below the mid-point of the scale. Therapists had significantly higher scores on techniques than mechanisms, which suggests providers had better understanding of how to implement a treatment than why it works. Therapists with a Bachelor’s degree and lower had significantly higher EBT scores on techniques than therapists with a Master’s degree or higher. However, relations between years of professional experience and the extent to which techniques, mechanisms, and causal factors were evidence-based were not significant. Therapists who reported being influenced by evidence-based theoretical orientations (cognitive-behavioral therapy) had higher EBT scores than those who reported being influenced by non-evidence-based theoretical orientations (psychoanalysis). Results suggest that Vietnamese psychotherapists have little understanding of evidence-based treatments, mechanisms, and causal factors, and that Vietnamese clients are not receiving evidence-based, quality treatment. Areas for future research include assessing patient outcomes and evaluation of treatment sessions.