Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 73 Issue 3 (September 2000), Pages 289-432

Special Section, Counselling Psychology: A review of the scientist‐practitioner model: Reflections on its potential contribution to counselling psychology within the context of current health care trends (pages 413-427)

Recent legislative changes in the National Health Service have resulted in the need to develop practices that are ‘evidence‐based’. The move away from opinion and experience in therapeutic decision‐making towards use of research in service planning poses challenges to the identity, activities and roles of counselling psychologists. This highlights the need for a clearly articulated framework of professional activity to protect and enhance the future of the profession. The scientist‐practitioner model is one such framework and despite its contentious history, it is argued that the difficulties traditionally associated with its implementation are largely owing to an outdated view of scientific activity which relies on a positivist philosophy of science. These themes are developed by exploring the historical context in which the scientist‐practitioner model evolved and by drawing upon psychological models of identity, change and loss. A more contemporary meta‐theoretical construction of science and scientific activity is also explored which offers a reformulation of the scientist‐practitioner model that could complement the quest for evidence‐based practice and is consistent with the philosophical underpinnings of counselling psychology. Critical questions for future research in this area are identified.

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