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Changing self-concepts for professional psychologists: Discrepancies and possibilities with the coming of change in mental health care

13 December 1996


psychologists in Oregon are facing challenges in clinical practice because of changes in the delivery of mental health care services. These changes have affected the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of clinicians which may, in turn, affect the quality of clinical practice. Studying these effects may create greater understanding of the impact of the changes in policy, procedure, and funding on the professional careers, the personal well-being, and the clinical competency of Oregon psychologists. Recent research in social cognition suggests that 1) people's ability to envision positive possible future selves has a great impact on their ability to achieve their hopes and goals (Marcus & Nurius, 1986); and 2) the discrepancy between how people see themselves and how they believe they ought to be or want to be creates emotional states that affect motivation, self-efficacy and achievement (Higgins, 1987). These two bodies of research may be applied to Oregon psychologists to ascertain the effects of recent changes on psychologist's self-perception. Psychologists who report greater self-discrepancy are more likely to experience negative affect in general. Those with differences between actual and ideal states report more despondency, as well as more agitation, a finding which contradicts Higgins' theory. Present-over past negative self-evaluation predicts future optimism, another finding which requires further study. Differences between men and women were found in the analyses, but the correlational differences do not achieve significance in most cases. A follow-up study will be conducted in three years to measure predicted future positive self against reported actual self at that time.


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