The Strengths and Weaknesses of the Scientist Practioner Approach

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The Strengths and Weaknesses of the Scientist – Practioner Approach

The scientist-practitioner model was a term coined within the realm of American psychology. A conference held in Boulder, Colorado in 1949 concluded that clinical psychologists should be incorporating both a scientific and practical approach within their framework and training model. In his applied scientific theory, Shappiro (1985) viewed research and practice as being integrated, not dichotomised. He outlined the three features of what he believed to make up the scientist-practitioner role: 1. All findings of general psychology should be applied to the field of mental health. 2. It is imperative that all methods of assessment used are scientifically validated and 3. All clinical work conducted should be done within the framework of the scientific method; when a client presents their concerns, hypotheses should be both formulated and tested to determine a desirable treatment outcome. There are arguments in support of the scientist-practitioner approach as well as arguments against it, the purpose of this essay is to outline both the strengths and weaknesses of the proposed model, as well as reflect on its applicability as a practicing clinical psychologist. A number of criticisms concerning the scientist-practitioner model arise from the literature. A basic argument proposed against the model suggests that the research element within the paradgim is poorly supported and often inapplicable with a clinical setting. Pilgrim and Teacher (1992) found that within a clinical realm, the scientist-practitioner approach was deemed as irrelevant in comparison to the more pressing service commitments. Research was not based on the reality settings of clinician’s functions and was often met with resistance and constraints by their place of employment. Due to a number of varying factors including practical, ethical, scientific and personal, it was almost impossible for a practitioner to engage in any...
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