Posted: August 13th, 2013
Exploring the Scientist-Practitioner (Sp) Ideal
Exploring the Scientist-Practitioner (Sp) Ideal
Initially, the main sources of authority were religions and traditions until the introduction of science. The study of psychology as a science began in the 1800s with the establishment of a psychology lab meant to study the behavior through scientific methods. Behaviorists used scientific research experiments to interpret various behaviors observed in humans. Since this time, scientific approach incorporated in the study of psychology in an attempt helps in explaining the reasons for their occurrences. Science derives its authority from its knowledge and trustworthy methods of data collection. The scientific model established at the boulder conference aims at promoting the use of scientific methods in psychology (Hayes et al., 1999). The training model seeks to train psychologists in scientific practice and research procedures for better output from them. The training involves the education of clinical psychologists who specialize in the scientific methods of research and analysis of psychological issues (Baker & Benjamin, 2000).
There is a controversy facing this model because it trains psychologists to be clinicians, which is not in line with their interests (Albee, 2000). This may turn out a good idea but meant for the wrong people. Probably getting medical students to take up this kind of training is an easier move. Treatment of mental health issues engages the Scientific methods since research shows they are the most efficient methods. Psychology practice in Australian faces various challenges that include inadequate funding for training programs in undergraduate and postgraduate standards. As a result, required facilities in the practice become hard to access for training purposes. The diversity of the psychology field that involves the scientist-practitioner has raised the demand for services offered in clinical psychology hence lowering its supply. The requirement of an increase in the supply of clinical service providers poses a challenge since it is necessary in making scientist-practitioner an effective model. Improper research presentation affects the planning of scientific psychological training and practice (John, 1998).
The scientific-practitioner model of dealing with psychological issues is essential in proper understanding of behaviors of humans and animals (Benjamin, & Baker 2000). Scientific approach can be used to determine the reasons for various reactions among people. Predictions on the reactions of a person in a given situation are possible. Reliability and consistency is a major characteristic of the use of science in psychology. Science helps find information about the human anatomy and precise description of the brain working. Since the study of the brain becomes possible through science, psychology subsequently became easier (Schneider, 1998). Psychology studies the functioning of the brain and the use of scientific information makes the study not so difficult. Scientific approach on psychology involves the collection of relevant data, the organization of the data into a comprehensive form, and the interoperation of the data. The interpretations derive various kinds of information about the question of the study. This information obtained assists in improving psychological services offered to patients. Science therefore contributes in the improvement of psychological training and practices (Gergen, 2001).
The model requires the training on research methods and therefore equips with the skills of acquiring information on various areas. These methods include the collection of data and its interpretation for relevance. The same trainees acquire skills on clinical services and are able to use these skills in offering better services (Perez, 1999). Despite all the arguments for scientific-practitioner, the model is controversial since there are some arguments against it. Clinical training of psychology trainees poses questions on whether the trainees possess the necessary talents and interests for the training. The training done to the psychologist students is irrelevant to their field of study since research shows that few end up practicing the skills imparted on them (Lilienfeld, 2004). This shows there is still a challenge in the implementation of skills in real life practice. Another point of concern is the certainty level of scientific information. Science cannot answer all the questions raised about the working of the human brain, and there is a need to make some assumptions. Deriving of assumptions bring reliability of the information provided through scientific research questionable (Larner, 2001).
Scientific-practitioner gap occurs when the research findings and their practical application are inconsistent (Stricker, 1997). This happens due to the ignorance of some research findings and the lack of investigation by scientists. Lack of proper communication and interpretation of collected data widen this gap. The difference in the research findings and the implementation of the data poses a challenge on improvements of the psychological field since the purpose of the collection of data is not properly served. Research involves the collection of data in a certain area to derive certain information about the area of research. Throughout the research process, a variety of data is collected and various interpretations derived from it. The information obtained reflects the condition of the study area (Schneider, 1999). Psychological research shows the situation of the department, and the challenges faced in the practice are highlighted. The positive effects and the areas requiring transformation also feature in the research, and therefore, the research process is very essential in the development. If the interpretation of the research findings is not properly understood, then misjudgments occur. The practitioners undertake wrong moves attempting to verify the highlighted problems that do not exist. Wrong interpretations may result in unreasonable panicking when there is no cause of alarm (Stricker, 2000).
The scientist-practitioner gap poses a great danger to the professionals. The gap could be a sign of incompetence in the psychological questions. The practitioners undergo training in which relevant skills are imparted on them so that they will be able use proper research methods. Improper methods cause the derivation of improper interpretations that affect the findings and their conclusion (Leong & Zachar, 1991). The practitioners also undergo training on the proper interpretation of research information for it to make sense to the users. The clinical knowledge derived from the training process assists in making proper and informed relation of findings and real life situations. The presence of a gap is an indication of the presence of incompetent scientist-practitioners. The incompetence poses a big challenge on the reliability of the scientific method of treating psychology. Are the findings reliable if the researchers cannot be trusted? The model faces the challenge of credibility due to the presence of the gap. Another challenge posed to the professionals is the choice of information to rely on in their practice. If some of the findings are rendered unreliable, there is the possibility of other information becoming unreliable too (O’Gorman, 2001). The information picked as reliable requires a series of tests and comparisons with similar research findings.
The gap indicates a disconnection between research and the implementation of the results of the findings. Research becomes relevant if its findings assist in development of the area of study. If the findings of the research do not help in improving the areas being researched on, it becomes irrelevant. For the findings to be properly utilized, proper interpretation is necessary for the various departments to comprehend the result (Stricker & Trierweiler, 1995). For the sake of the people with no background knowledge of research and interpretation of the findings, proper explanation is required for them to understand what the results represent. Wrong understanding causes wrong actions. The users of the information may commit themselves to solving a problem that does not exist. It is therefore necessary to confront the cause of the scientist-practitioner gap. Confronting the gap means proper implementation of the research findings without any deviation. The research information hence becomes relevant to the psychology practice and plays a huge role in its improvements. In this manner of progress, the model becomes successful, and the psychology department reaps its fruits through great improvements. This is a major reason to confront the scientific-practitioner gap (Routh, 2000).
The practitioner gap is a negative effect to the working of the scientific practitioner model, which is designed to improve the psychological sector through scientific methods. If the scientific methods fail, then the whole model fails since it is entirely based on the findings of the research. Hence, the gap should be considered a bad thing, and its elimination is an essential step. However, the gap has a positive side to it. It could indicate that scientific methods are not necessarily the most reliable sources of information (Simionato, 1991). This offers the practitioners a wide range of alternative spawners of information to improve on the quality of services offered to clients. Relying on scientific sources of information could result in devastating effects to practitioners and the clients receiving the services. Wrong diagnosis of problems is possible, and improper treatment could result. Serious implications could arise from the use of inappropriate scientific information. Practitioners have to learn incorporation of ideas from all sources of information to derive proper conclusions for use in their practice (Cotton, 1998).
The gap does not occur merely because of the use of science in the study. It occurs due to improper interpretation of the scientific data and the slow implementation of recommendations derived from scientific research. If another method is employed and the implementation of the findings is not done accordingly, the gap will still exist. Poor use of the information causes the gap, but the gap is merely interpreted because of scientific research methods use in psychology. When dealing with a complex subject of research like the human body, encountering challenges is possible, and science is not to blame. The gap becomes a problem when dealing with the scientific approach to psychological research and when relying on the information that resulted in the gap. If the focus is diverted to other areas, gap does not appear as a major setback. Presence of the gap shows that reliance on one source of psychological information causes misinterpretation and results in challenges during implementation of the recommendations.
Psychology is therefore a broad area of study that requires wide research using different methods of investigating to obtain proper information and derive accurate interpretations. Variety of information obtained through the selected sources is analyzed keenly for correct deductions on the findings. Reliance on one source of information causes confusion if the source fails to deliver legitimate information. Therefore, scientific-practitioner is a beneficial practice in psychological developments, but the use of science in psychology is not entirely reliable (Zachar & Leong, 2000).
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