authors argue, problems will be less frequent and the discipline
“We think we’re good at self-assessment, but in reality we’re
not as good as we think we are,” says Linda Forrest, PhD, a
co-author of the paper and professor emerita of counseling
psychology and human services at the University of Oregon.
And that’s why relationships with others become so
important, she says. “If we have strong relations with others, it’s
more likely that we will learn from them when we’re inaccurate in
our conceptions of our own competence,” she says.
Having a diverse network to learn from is key, Forrest adds,
citing an article she, Kaslow and others published in Professional
Psychology: Research and Practice in 2013.
“The greater the diversity of people in your competence
constellation, the stronger your constellation is in terms of
keeping track of your competency,” says Forrest. “The whole idea
is different psychologists listening carefully to how each views the
world and the kinds of problems each of us works with and the
way that if we work in teams we can often have a bigger, more
Now Kaslow wants to spread this notion across all of psychology
and beyond, with psychologists coming together with colleagues
in other areas of psychology, psychologists in other countries and
even professionals in other disciplines altogether.
One of the best examples of uniting psychology’s many
facets is APA’s clinical practice guidelines initiative, which brings
science, practice and education together for the public interest,
“The guidelines are a fantastic example, because they’re really
about pulling together the research evidence with the practice
part,” she says. “Then if you take it one step further, you would
use the guidelines to educate students and even the public.”
Using a rigorous methodology, APA is bridging the gap
between research and practice by synthesizing the evidence base
on specific conditions. Work is already underway on guidelines
for depressive disorders, obesity and post-traumatic stress
The guidelines won’t just help practitioners and their patients,
says Steven D. Hollon, PhD, a psychology professor at Vanderbilt
University who chairs the initiative’s advisory steering committee.
They can also help policymakers, payers and consumers
themselves see what the most effective treatments are for various
The expert panels reviewing the literature on both
psychosocial and pharmacological treatments and summarizing
the data include researchers, clinicians, people involved in the
health-care delivery system, even consumers themselves, says
Hollon, noting that bringing together such diversity strengthens
the resulting products.
“You want a real balance of perspectives,” he says. “The
evidence doesn’t interpret itself, so you want people with a whole
range of experiences, preferences and orientations to take a
look at the evidence and come up with reasoned, even-handed
The dialogue should go the other way, too, says Marvin R.
Goldfried, a psychology professor at Stony Brook University and
past president of APA’s Div. 12 (Society of Clinical Psychology)
and Div. 29 (Psychotherapy).
In a series of papers published in Behavior Therapy in 2013,
Goldfried and colleagues describe how they are building a
two-way bridge between science and practice. A collaboration
between Div. 29 and Div. 12 has created a way for practitioners to
share with researchers their clinical experiences using empirically
“The clinical trials that have been conducted for certain
therapies don’t tell the whole story,” says Goldfried. “We thought
it would be a good idea to have a vehicle whereby practicing
clinicians using treatments based on clinical trials could report
back some of the difficulties they’re having and to cast them as
hypotheses that researchers could engage in.”
That already happens with medications, Goldfried points
out, explaining that the Food and Drug Administration gives
practitioners a way to report problems even after drugs have been
approved and marketed.
Now Goldfried and his colleagues have created a similar
mechanism for psychologists: They have developed online
surveys that allow practitioners to identify the real-life variables
— such as a difficult family situation or a weak therapeutic
relationship — that interfere with their ability to reduce their
The first three surveys focused on panic disorder, social
anxiety and general anxiety disorder; the next two will cover post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The
results will be available at www.stonybrook.edu/commcms/two-way-bridge/ index.html.
This mechanism will not only enhance research, says
Goldfried. It will also help ensure that practitioners pay attention
to the latest research.
“The hope is that if the practicing clinician sees him or herself
as having a voice in what gets done, he or she will be more likely
to look at the research findings that are associated with that,” says
Around the world
It’s not just important to unite psychologists within the United
States, says Kaslow. It’s just as important to unite with — and
learn from — psychologists in other countries.
That’s already happening, thanks to APA’s memorandum of
understanding initiative, says Merry Bullock, PhD, who directs
APA’s Office of International Affairs. Through the program, APA
and other national psychology associations agree to engage in
mutual learning and collaboration.
“The goal is for APA as an organization to find ways to talk
with and interact with its fellow national psychology organiza-