|Diets Attachment Attachment Theory Community of Excellence Men in Therapy Clinical Excellence David Schnarch Linda Bacon CE Comments Couples Therapy Great Attachment Debate Challenging Cases Anxiety Ethics The Future of Psychotherapy Brain Science Etienne Wenger Gender Issues Couples Clinical Mastery Narcissistic Clients Mindfulness Symposium 2012 Mind/Body Alan Sroufe Mary Jo Barrett William Doherty Wendy Behary Future of Psychotherapy Trauma|
|Clinician's Digest - Page 6|
Are PsyDs "Psychology Lite"?
Last year's controversial report for the American Psychological Society, coauthored by a team led by Timothy Baker of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, strongly criticized the American Psychological Association (APA) for its "prescientific" attitude toward scientific training and accreditation (see Clinician's Digest, January/February 2010). The report singled out the proliferation of PsyD programs as an example of how psychologist education and training has gone wrong, noting with alarm the rapid growth in PsyD programs and degrees. That growth has outpaced the growth in psychology PhDs. Today, says Jessica Kohout of the APA's Center for Workforce Studies, there are at least 73 APA accredited PsyD programs. The number of PsyD degrees awarded has increased annually since 1978 (with the exception of 2002–2003) and has recently surpassed the number of PhDs in clinical psychology. Approximately 26,000 PsyDs have been trained since 1978.
The PsyD was conceived as a practice-oriented, rather than an academic-oriented, degree. Eugene Shapiro, an early PsyD champion, and Jack Wiggins, a former APA president, have likened it to the emergence of the MD in the early 1900s, which was created to distinguish practicing physicians from their PhD colleagues who were more interested in studying and teaching the discipline than working with patients. Writing in the March 1994 American Psychologist they pointed out, "The use of the [psychology] PhD degree perpetuates the belief that ours is solely an academic-research profession. The PhD degree identifies the bearer as a scholar, a scientist, or an academician but fails to identify the holder as a professional [practicing] psychologist."
PsyD programs are often perceived as "easier" than PhDs. Part of the reason is that it takes an average of five years to earn, as opposed to the six to seven years for a PhD. But Morgan Sammons, Dean of the California School of Professional Psychology, insists that PsyDs aren't "psychology lite" degrees. Differences between PsyD and PhD programs are in focus, not quality or rigor, he maintains, noting that both the PsyD and PhD are science-based degrees. The PsyD teaches the science and research of understanding clients and therapy, whereas the PhD uses science and research to understand behavior and change. "Both are equally laudable and defensible goals," Sammons insists.
Much of the disdain for one degree or the other may be related to the ever-present tension and gap between research and practice. Anyone examining the hundreds of abstracts in psychology journals will immediately notice how few of the studies have direct relevance to clinical practice. Even Baker admits that no research has demonstrated any association between therapists' knowledge of the research and positive outcomes.