The scientist practitioner model was not simply touted as the best in my Counseling program, but was shown to be the only one that was worthy of attention. While I understand that this inculcation for 2 years into this model has molded my thoughts to a significant extent, I will still offer my support of this model.
I have worked as a practitioner, I have worked as a scientist, and bringing the two together is the best way to further a useful and practical science of psychology. As I touched on in last week’s readings, I think that while psychologists can learn from biologists, it is not appropriate for them to try and be them. This sentiment is echoed in Albee’s writings. The medical model is not what is best for either psychologists, or much of the mental health industry (whether it should be an industry at all is a question for another day). By treating everything as a disease (which can be beneficial, in the right context), we have given away the strength of the “talking cure” and moved to giving psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses the keys to the kingdom – why try to solve any of my issues when I can just walk into a clinic and get put on a pill carousel until I find the one that feels best, and makes the pain go away the quickest?
Clinicians need to receive scientific training. It prevents them from hucking pseudoscience at their patients, which, unfortunately, is where much of the science of psychology stemmed from. At the same time, clinicians must employ art if they are to connect meaningfully with their patients. The science must back up their methods, but if there is to be meaningful and positive change for the patient, the practitioner must know how to go about the science in an artful manner.
At the end of the day, I do not know how psychology disentangles itself from the clutches of psychiatry and the insurance reimbursement model that it has so willingly embraced. Firstly, I think that there are plenty who do not want to disengage. I think it is necessary, as it is the only way to take our foot off the gas of over-prescribing.
The scientist-practitioner model has made many positive contributions to the field of psychology, while also dragging it in the wrong direction on a number of issues. The pitfalls and weaknesses of the profession, at least in the world of practice, are not issues that can be solved by an individual, or even a single institution. Continuing to eschew the toxic world of for-profit healthcare that is dependent on immediate diagnoses and next to immediate (medical) cures for psychological distress is, in my estimation, the most important place for us to deposit our energy.