Becoming and effective scholar practitioner

The scientific revolution has been concerned with scientific discoveries for the growth of the scientific discipline. Scientific experiments and researches were conducted for the pursuit of knowledge, to gather information to support theoretical assumptions, to test objective hypothesis which was directed at finding a means of understanding man and the world we live in.

In this period, scientific endeavors was conducted because a scientist had a question he desires to find answers to and experimenting in the strict academic rigors was the only way to do it.

The knowledge gained from these experiments enabled man to develop the atomic bomb, to fly airplanes, to invent the telephone, to recognize that hysteria is a mental disease and that human beings came from the apes. The scientific discoveries of those times were pursued for the sake of discovery, for widening what was previously known and accepted (Lambert & Brittan, 1987). After this long period, it was only then that science became an applied science. Scientific endeavors were now geared towards how the experiment or research study influenced certain aspects of human life.
For example, the science of psychology came at the forefront of social awareness when tests were developed to classify the intelligence level of American soldiers. The objective of scientific disciplines then became the application of the scientific method/process to improve man’s quality of life. Thus, the focus was how technological advancements made work less physically demanding, how household appliances helped overworked housewives, how intelligence tests improved instructional quality and the educational system, how counseling and psychotherapy enabled people to lead more meaningful lives and etc.
With every scientific application of a certain field, social ramifications and ethical issues arise(Lambert & Brittan, 1987), for example, the increasing practice of having humans as subjects in experimental studies which exposed them to psychological trauma was questioned in terms of its ethical or unethical status. The use of intelligence testing to label children or adults as idiots, to classify homosexuality as a mental disorder and a host of now defunct and challenged assumptions was a manifestation that social responsibility and social awareness was increasing.
People were beginning to question the validity and reliability of experimental studies, the preference for quantitative studies using statistics enabled practitioners to be within the scientific and objective traditions which also contributed to the highly quantitative research methods. Psychology can be classified as a modern science; it has found its strength in the application of its scientific nature to almost every facet of human life that it has become so popular and everyone to some degree practices psychology (Stoltenberg, Pace, Kashubeck-West, Biever, Patterson & Welch, 2000).
However, there is a clear distinction between scholar-practitioners and practical psychology. Scholar-practitioners do not stop with simply practicing their field of specialization, but they rather seek to test, to develop and to explore the past, the present and the future of psychological inquiry (Peterson, 2000). Scholar-practitioners effect social change by their work and their adherence to the scientific tradition of academic investigation.
For example, a scholar-practitioner of psychotherapy finds that the previous techniques he had adhered to is not as effective as it used to be, so he tries out a different method and then painstakingly record every session and then formulate an improved or an entirely new technique. He then develops it into a working theory and then test it out on his practice for years and until he finds evidence to support his claims, he then publishes it in peer-reviewed journals where it will be subjected to the scrutiny of other scholar-practitioners who have years of experience, continued their professional growth and adhered to the scientific method.
The scholar-practitioner’s work does not end here, he will continue to test, modify and write about his theory for the rest of his life. With the study of school psychology of learning difficulties, we are now able to identify, diagnose and provide interventions for learning challenged children, in the past these children have been labeled as slow learners, disabled, abnormal and thus there were no adequate programs to answer their needs (Prilleltensky, 1997).
Scholar-practitioners who specialize in counseling may have come across teens and adults who are undecided about their sexuality, this brought into social consciousness that homosexuality or bisexuality is not a disease and that it is often a choice that individuals make in terms of their sexual preference, backed by years of data and research, the public has become more receptive to homosexuals than before, although much more is needed to help them feel normal and not as deviants. How do scholar-practitioners choose the topic or the question that they would like to work on?
The key is the strong attunement of the scholar-practitioner to the contemporary issues of the present society, in the field of study, in the psychological discipline. Being knowledgeable of what pressing concerns the discipline of psychology is facing will help the scholar-practitioner steer his work in answering the need for studying and investigating this aspect. It is also important that with an inquisitive and critical mind is the training and the ability to work within the scientific model.
It is also important that scholar-practitioners adhere to the concept that psychology is a science and not a part of the popular culture as it has been utilized by money making self-help book authors. A scholar-practitioner enriches his knowledge and skills of the filed of specialization through his practice, but what enables him to dissect, to theorize, to formulate hypotheses and to effect change is the mastery and experience of scientific research methods.
When the scientific mind works together with the practical application, the practitioner grows in leaps and bounds in terms of his professional acumen and as a person of honesty and integrity. References Lambert, K. & Brittan Jr. , G. (1987). An introduction to the philosophy of science 3rd ed. California: Ridgeview Publishing Company. Peterson, D. (2000). Scientist-practitioner or scientific-practitioner? American Psychologist, 55;
2, 252-253. Prilleltensky, I. (1997). Values, assumptions, and practices: Assessing the moral implications of psychological discourse and action. American Psychologist, 52; 5, 517-535. Stoltenberg, C. , Pace, T. , Kashubeck-West, S. , Biever, J. , Patterson, T. & Welch, I. (2000). Training models in counseling psychology: Scientist-practitioner versus practitioner-scholar. The Counseling Psychologist, 28, 622-640.

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