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The Scientist-Practitioner in a Counselling Psychology Setting

Bury, D. & Strauss, S. M. (2006). The Scientist-Practitioner in a Counselling Psychology Setting. In: Lane, D. A. & Corrie, S. (Eds.), The Modern Scientist-Practitioner: A Guide to Practice in Psychology. (pp. 112-126). London, UK: Routledge.


The human psyche is influenced by an extraordinary complexity of experiences. Many would therefore maintain that we can never completely understand another human being. As scientist-practitioners, is our purported allegiance to, and reliance upon, ‘official’ sources of knowledge (including theory and scientific evidence) sufficient for us to be confident that we can construct consistently helpful solutions from the myriad clinical data at our fingertips? Should we as psychologists accept that full understanding of causality is simply not an achievable objective? If we adopt the position that we can never fully explain causes, however, what role do we actually play? Can our interventions even be considered valid, let alone scientific?

The question of how practitioners reflect upon their activity, and of the scientific assumptions behind their work, has occupied much debate in the field of psychology, and the many different strands of this debate are woven throughout the fabric of this book. In this chapter, we consider some of the many implications of this debate for counselling psychologists.

Specifically, we begin by exploring the position of counselling psychology within the profession more broadly, and consider its place in the current controversy about the scientist-practitioner role. Next, we articulate some of our own practice in this regard, attempting not only to make note of the systematic approaches that we employ in counselling psychology but also to incorporate the wide range of expectation and experience that comes to the therapeutic endeavour. Finally, we try to define the type of scientist-practitioner that we envision in a counselling psychology setting.

Publication Type: Book Section
Publisher Keywords: Psychology, Scientist-Practitioner, Counselling Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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