Observer

January 2002
Volume 15, Number 1

Berenbaum: 'Tearing Down Barriers'

Howard Berenbaum
Berenbaum

In addition to translating "basic" research into improved services for clients, Academy programs are at the forefront of tearing down barriers between "basic" and "clinical" research, which I believe holds the greatest potential in the long run for improving our understanding of, and treatments for, psychological disturbances.

Members of the Academy are not "cookie cutter" programs that all look alike. As a result, they are sometimes misunderstood and given a hard time by the APA-driven accreditation process. In forming the Academy, these programs can support each other in a variety of ways, including dealing with accreditation issues.

With the caveat that most dichotomies are simplifications, it is my view that providers of mental health services (which, of course, includes clinical psychologists) can be divided into those who believe that the provision of services should be guided by personal experience (what such individuals "know" to be true based on their clinical experience) and those who believe that, in the long run, individuals with psychological disturbances will be best served by services that are informed by scientific research. The Academy, perhaps better than any other organization or group of individuals, represents the latter perspective.

Academy programs can be models of how to use psychological science to improve our understanding of, and treatments for, psychological disturbances. Because the Academy is agnostic regarding different types of assessment and therapeutic approaches (other than the desire to let rigorous research point us in the right direction), I hope the Academy can model how to apply scientific methods to study assessment and treatment procedures that have the potential to be examined scientifically, but have not been.

- APS Charter Member Howard Berenbaum
Member APCS Executive Committee
University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana