The Effect of Deliberate Practice Training of Graduate Students in General Psychotherapeutic Skills Compared to Theoretical Teaching: the Randomized Controlled TRIPS Trial

  • Østergård, Ole Karkov (PI (principal investigator))
  • Poulsen, Stig Bernt (PI (principal investigator))
  • Nielsen, Jan (CoI (co-investigator))
  • Nilsson, Kristine Kahr (CoI (co-investigator))
  • Hjorthøj, Carsten (CoI (co-investigator))



Background: Psychology students from universities in Denmark and other countries mainly read academic texts and receive limited clinical training, which might explain why many novice therapists have a “practice-chock” and describe deficiencies in working with real-life problems and solutions after graduation. Research indicates that the interpersonal skills of the psychotherapist are critical for the therapist’s ability to facilitate client change, maybe because these skills are a common therapeutic factor enhancing client outcome across all psychotherapeutic approaches and a prerequisite for applying the more specific skills, such as cognitive restructuring and exposure in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Therefore, improving interpersonal skills becomes critical in the education of psychotherapists. However, it is still unclear whether these skills are mainly innate, or they can be improved through training. A promising recent approach to train and improve psychotherapy skills is deliberate practice defined as individualized training activities designed to improve performance through goal setting, repeated practice, feedback, and successive refinement of practice.
Methodology: In the present TRIPS study, a deliberate practice-based approach to student training of evidence-based common psychotherapeutic skills, such as empathy and building the therapeutic alliance, will be compared to theoretical teaching. The main hypothesis is that deliberate practice training will result in a larger improvement in interpersonal skills. Two-hundred graduate students from the University of Copenhagen and Aalborg University will be randomized into two groups, a) deliberate practice training of common psychotherapeutic skills using role-play and Skillsetter, an online skill-building system with therapy videos; or b) theoretical teaching. Each condition consists of 15 hours of classroom participation and homework. The primary outcome is the Facilitative Interpersonal Skill - Observer. Secondary outcomes include the Facilitative Interpersonal Skills—Self-Report, the Counselor Activity Self-Efficacy Scales, and the Interpersonal Reactivity Index.
Perspectives: If the hypothesis is confirmed, the next step is to investigate if improving therapist interpersonal skills also enhances client outcomes. The study can potentially transform how we train psychotherapy by including deliberate practice principles known from music and sport.
Kort titelTraining of Graduate Students in General Psychotherapeutic Skills
Effektiv start/slut dato15/09/202131/12/2025


  • University of Copenhagen


Udforsk forskningsemnerne, som dette projekt berører. Disse etiketter er oprettet på grundlag af de underliggende bevillinger/legater. Sammen danner de et unikt fingerprint.