Exploring the scientist-practitioner (SP) ideal
Sara Van Hooydonk
Student i.d: 800452214
Due date: 25.5.2012 word count: 1,503
Exploring the scientist-practitioner ideal
The scientist practitioner model has been particularly helpful towards the professional training of psychologists since its formulation in 1949 (Hayes et al, 1999 ). The aim of this model is for training psychologists to integrate science and practice towards enhancing the effectiveness of varied mental health services (Hayes et al, 1999) .Although this model has been widely accepted, it has been subjected to a number of criticisms. For instance, with the increasingly popular philosophical post-modernist perspective, it has been argued that the scientist-practitioner model is too modernistic and medical in its approach. Consequently, the funds allocated by the government towards mental health practices seem unfairly allocated, with many psychological methodologies lacking in resources. The following paper will discuss and critique the position of both modernism and post-modernism in relation to the SP model. In doing so, we will argue that both perspectives need to be mutually included in the SP model to bridge the gap between science and practice. Finally, we will suggest some strategies that the government can adopt towards improving funds allocated in the mental health system. Fundamentally, the scientist-practitioner model was aimed to train clinical psychologists as both scientists and practitioners (Stricker & Trierweiler, 1995). However, despite initial excitement over the scientist practitioner model, the convergence of science and practice has mainly failed and is rarely used by practitioners in psychology (Stricker & Trierweiler, 1995). Consequently there has been a split between science and practice, known as the scientist practitioner gap. One explanation for the scientist practitioner gap may lie in the differing values placed in modernistic and post-modernistic perspectives (Ramey & Grubb, 2009). The scientist-practitioner model typically adopts a modernistic approach to research. Modernists define “good science” as controlled, systematic and objective methodology (Gergan, 2001). Furthermore, they believe that random control trials are the best way to investigate efficacy and effectiveness of treatment with minimal error (Ramey and Grubb, 2009). Scientists who typically yield a modernist perspective employ a medical model which aims to treat psychological disorders with pharmaceutical intervention and, more recently, “validated” talk therapies (Albee, 2000). Its main focus is on fast and effective treatments to “fix” the individual. This perspective has been praised for reducing complex psychological phenomena into manageable constructs as well as maintaining consistency among practitioners (Ramey and Grubb, 2009). It is further supported for its scientific rigour, as it reduces the influence of individual clinician charisma on specific treatments (Ramey and Grubb, 3009). However, it has been argued that the scientist-practitioner model neglects the uniqueness of the individual when making a diagnosis and when providing treatment (Gergen, 2001). Modernism is further opposed for its tendency to marginalise and pathologize individuals into “text book” cases, which restricts and creates a narrow view of science. Additionally, modernists are only interested in treatments that have been empirically supported. Empirical studies are potentially a problem as they only generalise the results to the population (Larner, 2001). But what about the individual who is not like a “general case”? Additionally, empirically supported studies lack ecological validity as they cannot be representative and transferable to clinical practice. This is...
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