On the concept of science

Now lets address a big and quite complex question, or rather a series of questions: What is scientific validation, or: How can the concepts "science" and "scientific validation" be defined?

Does such a thing as a common consensus exist in this area?

Have meta-scientists reached a consensus concerning these questions?

As we understand this field of knowledge, the short (humoristic) answers to these questions would be something like:

Outch ! Oops ! Not at all ! and: Certainly not !

We are certainly not professional meta-scientist ourselves, but we know enough to be fully aware that the term science or scientific, IS used in many different, and in principle all correct (as long as you are clear about your own position), ways:

- scientific is something that is "proven" or documented as very likely correlations through quantitative, big, randomized and double blind investigations, and this only !

- scientific is any clear, well defined and self critical description of a phenomenon, no matter its size

- scientific is something several persons have written books ABOUT on a certain academic level

- scientific is something that is well known, and something most specialists within any academic field are agreed upon

- scientific is what professors at universities or the academic subculture do

- scientific is an attitude that consists of elements like: a self critical sense, knowing that man knows extremely few things with certainty, a non-prejudiced openness to sensations or "facts", willingness to alter and develop description and investigation methods with respect to the object under study, and last but not least: willingness to have your assumptions, descriptions and results investigated and discussed by others.

The above written statements are examples expressing different modes of science, or different traditions within scientific thinking; the quantitative or positivistic tradition, the hermeneutic or qualitative tradition, several social history and sub cultural context study examples and finally an inclusive contemporary meta-scientific statement.

In practice, within the recent more than 40 years of academic investigations in psychotherapy, including discussions concerning what works best and most efficient, the term scientific most often means quite bluntly: understanding and describing THE WAY we (as professionals connected to one specific scientific tradition / way of thinking) do it, and unscientific are all the other ways to do it.

You might say, that also within the scientific subculture that concerns itself with psychotherapy, there is an unresolved and ongoing disagreement about what the proper way of doing things is.

On one side we have a natural science inspired, positivistic tradition stating that only quantitative studies count - an attitude that has resulted in the so-called "positive-list" of acceptable psychotherapies in USA. On the other side we have a more humanistic science inspired attitude, stating that we need more case-describing studies (hermeneutic investigation) to understand what is actually going on in the therapeutic context, and what actually makes psychotherapy work.

The latter attitude was the main conclusion at the latest congress arranged by The Society for Psychotherapy Research: The Chicago Conference in June 2000, and which was also reported during a 2-day research seminar arranged by the Danish Psychological Association, in spring 2001, in Denmark.

Does this mean that scientific validation is not important?

No, not at all.

We believe that scientific validation is important, and a crucial task for psychotherapy in general and body psychotherapy specifically, if we actually want to gain recognition from our contemporary society.

In addition to this cooperative attitude, we find it though crucial, to be critical and unimpressed by any kind of "superior" attitude like: You are not scientific at all!!

On the contrary we believe that we need to be humble when facing the true and very complicated term and practice of science. We especially have to be clear about what we specifically mean, and what we as well as others are specifically asking for or doing, when we ask for scientific validation.( or documentation).

After discussing these matters, especially with scientists and metascientists, it is our attitude that we should participate in and initiate as many quantitative and qualitative scientific studies as possible, with an open and critical mind. As well as this we should exercise self critical awareness of the type of knowledge which the different ways of working scientifically can and can not provide.

To some extent The Bodynamic Institute has already participated and even initiated several studies of both kinds.

The very first scientific quest is probably to describe our theory publicly, its implicit and explicit ways of understanding human nature, the resulting working models and methods, and guidelines for therapeutic strategy and intervention.

We have invested a lot of energy in descriptions of this kind (published by The Bodynamic Institute), as can be seen from our bibliography, although we would still like a lot more of our thinking to be written down and presented to colleagues and other professionals.

One last thing, we would like to mention, is participation in professional congresses.

Over the last 20 years several of our trainers have attended many international congresses within the area of humanistic psychology, body psychotherapy, pre- and perinatal psychology and PTSD, and also within other traditions of psychotherapy. Foremost Lisbeth Marcher, but also several other Bodynamic trainers, have offered a long series of presentations at congresses, as well in Europe as in USA.

Over these years we have always seen congresses not only as a platform for presenting ourselves, but also as an opportunity to enter into a dialogue with professional colleagues within the field.

A list of the congresses we have attended is included at the end of this document (Appendix).

We will end this discussion by mentioning a few of the international scientists and metascientists we have been talking to, and in many ways have been learning from, in addition to our dialogues with Danish professionals within the field:

William P. Henry, University of Utah, who has written:

Science,Politics, and the Politics of Science: the Use and Misuse of empirically Validated Treatment Research.

Psychotherapy Research 8(2), 126-140 1998.

Geir Høstmark, who is Professor in Clinical Psychology at the University of Bergen (NORWAY), mentioned above (page 5), has also written:

"Relational Psychodynamic Practice is supported by evidence: An examination of certain assumptions in the debate on treatment effects".

This is a published paper but unfortunately we do not recall the name of the journal or the year.

Agnes Petocz, University of Western Sidney Macarthur, Australia

Psychology, science and the symbol.

The Meaning of Science and the Science of Meaning: Implications for Psychological Practice. Lecture and paper given on the annual meeting of the Danish psychology association, March 2001.

Larry Hedges, California, author of many psychoanalytical books.

We will also mention 5 Danish authors that we have shared our thoughts with, and have had many fruitful discussions with.

Jes Bertelsen, spiritual teacher

Ole Vedfeldt, Jungian therapist and author of books dealing with consciousness

Lars Sørensen, chief psychologist and author

Marchen Møller, Professor, psychotherapist and author

Nancy Bratt, Professor emeritus, expert Rorschach "teacher" and expert early child development psychologist.


Источник: www.bodynamic.dk