Jan Nielsen

Jan Nielsen

Associate Professor

Research fields

  • Psychotherapy research;
  • Therapist variables, e.g. in relation to treatment effect/outcome;
  • Supervision and training;
  • Training of supervisors;
  • Group supervision;
  • Professional development and identity;
  • Novice therapists;
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy;
  • Group psychotherapy;


Research group memberships

  • Member of Centre for Psychotherapy Research, Dept. of Psychology, University of Copenhagen since 2012.
  • Member of the Steering Committee for NORTRAS, The Nordic Psychotherapy Training Study. Inter Nordic research network with colleagues from university clinics/training clinics at departments of psychology in Sweden, Norway and Denmark.
  • Local coordinator of the SPRISTAD-study: An international study of psychotherapy trainees development. SPRISTAD = Society of Psychotherapy Research Interest Section on Therapists Training and Development.


Research: brief description

My main research interest is supervision, training and psychotherapy. My present research focuses on therapists variables, i.e. what kind of training, supervision, experience, theoretical orientation, personal therapy, etc., therapists are influenced by, and how it effects their professional identity and work with clients. Results from psychotherapy research show that contribution from the therapist is critical for outcome, it follows that the study of the many variables represented by the therapist (i.e. age, sex, experience, training, theoretical orientation etc.) plays a central role in the efforts to enhance the effect of psychotherapy.

During 2009 to 2011 our former research group ‘Centre for Supervision’ conducted a survey among almost 400 Danish clinical psychologists with the DPCCQ questionnaire developed by Orlinsky, Rønnestad et al. from the Society for Psychotherapy Research. Results from the Danish survey has now been integrated with more than 20 other national surveys  in a database with information from more than 11.000 psychotherapist worldwide. Results from the Danish survey has been reported in Nordic Psychology (Nielsen et al. 2012, and Jacobsen et al. 2012), and in the Journal for the Danish Psychological Association (‘Psykolog Nyt’), among others. The Danish Psychological Association strongly supported the survey, since it focused on professional identity, working condition etc. among psychologists. Our main contribution to the survey was on supervision.  

As mentioned above, our research has until recently focused on themes as therapists´ development, training and supervision in general (The Danish DPCCQ-study). Now we are looking more specifically at novice therapists /psychologists in The Nordic Training Study (NORTRAS), studying psychology students first experiences with clients. One aspects of this study is to follow the (triadic) interaction and development of the novices as therapists with clients, as supervisees in supervision with their supervisors, and as participants in their supervision groups.

As psychotherapy research has demonstrated a significant correlation between the therapeutic alliance and outcome, it is of great interest to study to what extent supervision can help novice therapists making better/stronger alliances with their clients. In other words: how can the supervisory alliance influence the therapeutic alliance? Focusing at the supervisory alliance makes good sense when looking at the results of research on supervision, since until now it has not been possible to demonstrate a direct effect of supervision on client-outcome (except from Bambling et al. 2006). Thus future research should focus more on the interaction between supervisory- and therapeutic alliance. While group supervision is a prominent format of supervision, supervisory alliance in group supervision candidates to be one of the main points of interests, when new research projects are planned. This is the present focus of the NORTRAS study for our research group in Copenhagen, submitting a review entitled “Group supervision as psychotherapy training method - an updated review of the research” later this year (Pedersen, S.H., Mathiesen, B.B., & Nielsen, J., 2015).


Current research projects

  • NORTRAS – The Nordic Psychotherapy Training Study;
  • SPRISTAD – Society of Psychotherapy Research Interest Section on Therapists Training and Development;
  • Supervising PhD-student Anne Engholm Hedegaard (AAU) project: ’Ruptures and repairs in supervision’, 2012-2016.


  • Theoretic seminars and lectures (MA);
  • Helpings skills training (MA);
  • Supervising Master Thesis;
  • Theoretical seminars for MA-students during their practicum.
  • Coordinator of the External Practicum Programme at Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen since 2010. Approximately 100 MA-students per semester will take their practicum in a broad range of psychological services in Denmark, Scandinavia and international.
  • Coordinator of the University Clinic, Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen since 2012. The University Clinic serves as training clinic for MA-students, who will get their first experience with clients in psychotherapy under supervision.


Selected publications


Pedersen, S.H., Mathiesen, B.B., & Nielsen, J. (2015). Group supervision as psychotherapy training method - an updated review of the research. In preparation to The Clinical Supervisor (to be submitted Nov. 2015).

Nielsen, J., Jacobsen, C. H., & Mathiesen, B. B. (2013). Novice supervisors´ tasks and training. Paper presented at SPR´s International Conference on Psychotherapy Research. Brisbane, Australia, July 2013.

Nielsen, J., Jacobsen, C. H., & Mathiesen, B. B. (2012). Novice supervisors´ tasks and training  – a descriptive study. Nordic Psychology, 64, 182-191.

Jacobsen, C. H., Nielsen, J.,  & Orlinsky. D. E. (2012). Danish Psychologists as Psychotherapists: Professional, Demographic and Personal Characteristics, and Change in Theoretical Orientations.                                            Nordic Psychology, 64, 168-181.

Nielsen, J. (2011). Clinical Supervision in Denmark – perspectives on supervisees and supervisors competencies and professional development. Paper presented at Nordic Conference on Research Network: ‘Supervision and Psychotherapy in Dialogue’. Stockholm, Sweden, October 2011.

Jacobsen, C.H., & Nielsen, J. (2011): Clinical Supervision in Denmark: Results from the Danish DPCCQ study of supervision. Paper presented at SPR´s International Conference on Psychotherapy Research. Bern, Scwitzerland, June 2011.

Nielsen, J., Luggin, R., Thygesen, B., & Aagaard, S. (2009): The Use of Substitutes – Continuity and the-Group-as-a-Whole. Group Analysis, 42,  361-375.                                                                                  

Nielsen, J., & Frølund, L. (2009): The reflective meta-dialogue in psychodynamic supervision. Nordic Psychology, 61, 85 – 105.

Nielsen, J., & Jacobsen, C.H. (2009): Nordic Perspectives on Supervision and  Supervision Research. Nordic Psychology, 61, 1-3.

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