Training Clinical Psychologists in Transformative Research Practices

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Presented at the 2005 International Society of Theoretical Psychology in Cape Town, South Arica.

Presented at the 2005 International Society of Theoretical Psychology in Cape Town, South Arica.

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  • Presented at the International Society of Theoretical Psychology Conference in Cape Town, 2005.


  • 1. Training Clinical Psychologists in Transformative Research Practices Conditions for Promoting Social Justice in one area of Training of Clinical Psychologists
  • 2. Two Proposals for surviving troubled times
    • It is imperative that we maintain hope even when the harshness of reality may suggest the opposite.
    • Paulo Freire
    • Leading psychology forward: Staying the course in uncertain times.
    • Russ Newman, APA Practice Directorate (2004)
  • 3. Social Justice Curriculum: Three Core Curriculum Areas
    • Adoption of a dialogic, critical, liberation pedagogy
    • Critical, cross-disciplinary approach to curriculum content (theory)
    • Commitment to fostering communities of dialogue and service (praxis)
  • 4. Adoption of a dialogic, critical, liberation pedagogy
    • “ I argue instead for the possibilities, desirability, and pertinence of a space clearing that allows a multiplicity of different but related frameworks from different locations to touch, intersect, and feed off each other in a way that accommodates different realities and histories.” Obioma Nnaemeka
  • 5. Critical, cross-disciplinary approach to curriculum content (theory)
    • “ Border crossing has its dangers, its seduction, its unpredictability, its humbling moments, but it also has its enriching rewards. Border crossing entails learning about the ‘other,’ but more importantly, it should entail learning from the other.” Obioma Nnaemeka
  • 6. Commitment to fostering communities of dialogue and service (praxis)
    • “ the task of the psychologist must be to achieve the de-alienation of groups and persons by helping them attain a critical understanding of themselves and their reality” (p. 39), which “can only be realized through dialogue” (Martín-Baró, 1994, p. 42).
  • 7. Conditions for Transformative Research Training
    • Awareness of Context
    • Theory as Critique
    • Reflexive (Dialogic) Process
    • Action/Praxis
  • 8. Intentions of Transformative Research
    • To improve the lives of an oppressed and/or socially marginalized group through its discoveries in the research process
    • The study itself ought to be an empowering experience for its participants, who often are engaged as co-researchers.
  • 9. Transformative Assumptions
    • Central importance is placed on the lives & experiences of diverse & marginalized groups.
    • Analyses how & why social inequities are reflected in asymmetric power relationships.
    • Examines how results of social inquiry are linked to political & social action.
    • Uses transformative theory to develop program theory & research approach.
  • 10. Transformative Ontology
    • Recognition that reality is socially constructed.
    • Stress put on the influences of social, historical, political, & economic structures on those constructions.
    • Emphasis on the notion that that which seems “real” may be reified structures that are taken as real because of cultural & historical discourses.
  • 11. Transformative Epistemology
    • The relationship between the knower & would-be known is interactive, and the researcher’s “starting off thought” is from the lives of marginalized people.
    • The relationship should be empowering to those without power, including the research process itself.
    • “ Objectivity” is achieved by reflectively examining the influence of the values and social position of the researcher on the research’s problem, questions, and conceptualization.
  • 12. Transformative Methodologies
    • Pluralistic & sometimes multimodal
    • Draws upon the traditions of Participatory Action Research, Cooperative Inquiry, and Liberation Pedagogy, that involve research participants in the planning, conduct, analysis, interpretation, & uses of the research.
  • 13. Participatory Action Research question Inquiry analysis reflection new actions new actions question reflection Inquiry
  • 14. PAR
    • Is participatory and democratic, pooling the knowledge of both researchers and stakeholders in a process of co-generation
    • Is research with a social change agenda
    • Refers to the conjunction of these elements: research, action and participation
  • 15. PAR
    • Generates knowledge for the express purpose of taking action to promote social analysis and social change
    • Aims to increase the ability of the involved community members to control their own destinies more effectively
  • 16. Conclusions Conditions Conducive to Clinical Psychology Research in the Interest of Progressive Transformation
  • 17. Context
    • The context is somewhat marginalized in the field of clinical psychology, yet happily so
    • The institutional values include social justice (not just social responsibility )
    • Institutional & faculty (critical mass) commitment to a critical psychology and liberation pedagogy
  • 18. Theory & Content
    • A critical, praxis-informed orientation to research
    • Transformative service agenda is privileged
    • Practical, paradigmatic framework for methodology selection, including
      • Discourse analysis
      • Participatory action research
  • 19. Process
    • A critical pedagogy
    • Use of multiple learning modalities and positions
  • 20. Action/Creation
    • A working dissertation proposal for an participatory action research project.