Psychotherapy trainees’ epistemological assumptions influencing research-practice integration
Over the last few decades a growing number of psychotherapy scholars as well as psychotherapy researchers have joined a paradigm shift, moving from a reductionist to a complexity-oriented epistemology. Many authors recognize that when human subjectivity is the object of intervention and study, it is appropriate to resist simplification and to assume a more complex approach. While this paradigm shift is taking place not only in psychology but also in other disciplines, many psychotherapists still share the assumption that psychotherapy practice and psychotherapy research have opposite values; hence, they are worlds that cannot be reconciled. Considering this as one of the main reasons preventing a useful integration of evidence-based practice and clinical training in psychotherapy, we conducted an online survey of 126 Italian trainees from three differently-oriented psychotherapy institutes (cognitive-behavioral, relational-psychoanalytic and relational-systemic) to explore the epistemology underling the clinical and research practices. After presenting a clinical vignette, we asked questions about diagnostic considerations, case formulations, and treatment plans; we also asked questions about participants’ involvement in research projects or in research methodology courses and about willingness to be involved in future research studies in their clinical practice. We found some significant differences among trainees with different orientations, but in general most of the responses reflected a positivistic epistemology underlying both clinical and research activities. These findings suggest that a deeper awareness of one’s own epistemological assumptions could help trainees foster a more theory-coherent and research-informed clinical practice.
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Copyright (c) 2019 Attà Negri, Giovanbattista Andreoli, Luca Belotti, Arianna Barazzetti, E. Hale Martin
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