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Clinical Psychologist’s Professional Issues Research Paper

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Updated: Jul 1st, 2019

How does the research design and methodology affect a clinical psychologist’s professional work?

Clinical psychologists use descriptive research designs to investigate the prevalence or incidence rates of particular problems in the population. This research design enables psychologists to understand the scope of a problem, but not why or when the problem occurs, or what causes it.

Misrepresentation of the prevalence or incidence of the problem occurs when a study is biased towards a certain section of the population. There is continued debate over the pros of evidence as various issues become of concern in the search for evidence-based treatment.

There is overarching concern over the criteria used in conducting research studies in treatment research. Certain characteristics are noted to deviate from standard clinical psychology such as inclusion criteria, thereby affecting generalizability of results.

According to Kazdin (2008), controlled trials recruit subjects with less severe disorders and fewer comorbidities compared to those seeking routine treatment. Research methodology does not focus on the multiple stressors that interfere with psychological treatment, but instead, aims at reaching a specified goal.

Most psychologists argue that routine clinical practice is an ideal natural laboratory that is useful in identification of auspicious treatment approaches (Borckardt, Nash, Murphy, Moore & O’Neil, 2008).

Knowledge accrued from practice is essential in laboratory work when a practitioner tries to apply an established empirically supported therapy to a different disorder other than the one it currently addresses. Conversely, laboratory-generated knowledge is useful in informing clinical practice.

A randomized controlled trial establishes a causal relationship between variables, but this demonstration of cause and effect does not give all the reasons to justify the relations derived. Treatment is effective in bringing about change, but what is not known is the specific component of treatment that contributes to the change.

Statistical significance is attributed to sample size and variation between and within study subjects or groups. Statistical differences in research studies are not reflections of the typical day-to-day lives of the subjects (Kazdin, 2008).

According to Borckardt et al. (2008, p. 77), the practitioner-generated case-based time-series design is the best option, and it should be used together with randomized controlled trial to give insight into the effectiveness of psychotherapy.

The American Psychological Association has endorsed the time-series designs as effective methodologies in establishing the efficacy of treatment. However, there has been no uptake of this research methodology due to lack of faith by psychologists over the relevance of psychotherapy research to practice.

Case-based time-series design help practitioners to make contributions, which are “commensurate with evidence-driven ethos of scientific discourse” (Borckardt et al., 2008, p. 91). This design is individualized and helps a psychologist to understand the unfolding of therapeutic change.

In what ways might multicultural issues influence and be influenced by research?

In individualistic societies, the individual is the main unit of research and analysis. Conversely, cultures that uphold collectivism use a group as the core unit of analysis in research. Ethical issues have been of great concern when conducting research with reference to culture.

Issues such as exploitation and community damage have been highlighted as of great concern in research. As a result of colonialism and neo-colonialism, some of the communities are regarded as having less power, such as the gay community, the youth and other marginalized groups.

The nature of the community in as far as power is concerned affects the manner in which research is conducted.

If a researcher imposes his or her objectives on the community, then he or she is met with hostility and his or her research project does not succeed because it is not accepted by the community (Marshall & batten, 2004).

On the other hand, research positively influences the community if the researcher (s) brings individuals together and creates a partnership with them in what is referred to as a participatory approach.

This approach allows the community to reach a consensus with the researcher (s) while integrating the cultural values, beliefs, norms and taboos of the community.

Each culture is unique and with its own set of cultural rules, and this has a great influence on research in view of informed consent because each cultural group’s informed consent should be implemented as per the cultural components of the community at hand.

Marshall and Batten (2004) give an example using the Aboriginal groups, which demand a consistent re-examination and redefinition of the informed consent.

Researchers, therefore, are faced with the responsibility of understanding a culture’s dynamics and integrating them into the informed consent as a sign of cultural appreciation and culture respect.

Cultural issues demand that community control prevails; hence, every aspect of the research process should gain assent from the community. This hierarchy of seeking approval is time-consuming and the research process tends to go slower than had been anticipated, especially in cases where conflict prevails.

Normally, specific community leaders are chosen to represent the interests of the community and researchers have to seek their opinion during the entire research process. In a community where there is conflict, it becomes difficult to select members that will act as representatives of the community.

Conflict thwarts a research process; therefore, a researcher should fully understand a community’s political and social aspects to avoid wastage of resources as a result of incomplete or unsuccessful research projects.

Despite the need for community control, a researcher should never deviate from his or her research objectives, and should always quantify how much community control is necessary.

Engaging the community in research activities is cost-effective because the community utilizes available local resources that are useful in introducing a new research project.

A paramount component of research that is mainly not observed is dissemination of data to participants. Researchers, who never share ownership of data, fail to ensure informed consent all the way, according to Marshall & Batten (2004), yet this sharing helps to avoid future ethical problems with a particular community.

Sharing data results with the community is important for future researches because community members guide researchers on what is feasible and what is not. Thereby, avoiding replicating resources that do not have an impact, but instead focusing on more viable research projects.


Borckardt,J. J., Nash, M. R., Murphy, M. D., Moore, M., Shaw, D., & O’Neil, P. (2008). Clinical practice as natural laboratory for psychotherapy research: A guide to case-based time-series analysis. American Psychologist, 63(2), 77- 95.

Kazdin, A. E. (2008). Evidence-based treatment and practice: New opportunities to bridge clinical research and practice, enhance the knowledge base, and improve patient care. American psychologist, 63(3), 146-159.

Marshall, A., & Batten, S. (2004). Researching across cultures: issues of ethics and power. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 53(3). Web.

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