Working with Psychological Trauma as an Artist and as a Scientist: Rethinking the Scientist-Practitioner Model in the UK

  • Sofia Sykinioti

Student thesis: Doctor of Counselling Psychology


Background: The scientist-practitioner (S-P) model is in the heart of the identity of clinical and counselling psychology. The framework was developed to facilitate the integration between science and clinical practice, as well as competence in both. However, the research that has focused on the scientist-practitioner identity of qualified psychologists is minimal, since the S-P has been treated as a model of training. Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore how experienced clinical and counselling psychologists relate to the scientist-practitioner model in their career. This topic was narrowed down to professionals working with psychological trauma. This professional area was selected as a substantial amount of research has contributed to its evidence base and development of clinical guidelines, making discussions about the implementation of research more transparent in the research interviews. Method: A single method qualitative design was employed. Thematic Analysis was used to analyse the 14 research interviews of 7 counselling psychologists and 7 clinical psychologists. Participants had a minimum of 2 years of work experience post-qualification and a collective average of 4.9 years of employment as qualified psychologists. Findings: The findings were conceptualised as a spectrum of epistemological and professional identities through which five superordinate themes emerged: The Scientist, the Aspiring Scientist, the Artist-Scientist, the Aspiring Artist, and the Artist. The study findings suggest that all participants identified as S-Ps, but their interpretations of the model and what constitutes science varied. Qualitative characteristics were identified to describe each theme. Professional issues and socio-political barriers to fully actualising the S-P were identified and discussed. Discussion: Patterns of more similar responses were observed when the participants shared a work setting, such as academia. The findings of this study lead to the further conceptualisation of the data portraying a philosopher-practitioner, instead of a scientist-practitioner. The stance of a philosopher-practitioner would be better at acknowledging and addressing the individual differences. If the artist-scientist spectrum is thought of as a critical realist - naïve realist spectrum, then the ontological and epistemological positioning of the participants would probably reflect their current role, worldview, and activities, as well as their interpretation of science.
Date of Award1 Aug 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorTerry Hanley (Supervisor) & Laura Winter (Supervisor)


  • Scientist-Practitioner Model
  • Counselling Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychological Trauma
  • Professional Identity

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