Training the Trainee as Well as the Trainer: Lessons to Be Learned from Clinical Psychology*

Article excerpt

Abstract

The training literature in I/O psychology has benefited from empirical research in experimental psychology on such subject matter as massed vs distributive practice, knowledge of results (KOR), and the transfer of learning from the training setting to the workplace. The purpose of the present paper is to argue that further advances in the field of training will occur when there is a shift in research emphasis from reliance on findings from experimental psychology to building on extant training techniques in clinical psychology, particularly cognitive behavioural psychology. Further advances in the field of training may also occur when there is a shift in emphasis from the recipient of training, namely, the trainee, to the administrator of training, namely the trainer.

A major subdiscipline within the field of I/O psychology is training. In the first half of the 20th century, the training literature benefited from empirical research conducted by experimental psychologists to maximize the trainee's learning. Such issues as massed versus distributive practice sessions (Hull, 1943), whole versus part training (Naylor & Briggs, 1963), knowledge of results (KOR) (Ammons, 1956), and transfer of learning (Ellis, 1965) benefited from the early studies in experimental psychology. Subsequent refinements of that work by I/O psychologists enabled them to quickly shift their focus to organizational factors affecting training and development, ways of identifying training needs, the development of on-site and off-site training methods, as well as ways of motivating employees to apply what they learned in training sessions to the workplace (Wexley & Latham, 2001).

Near the middle of the 20th century, Thorne (1945), a major contributor to the early development of clinical psychology argued that: "Times are ripe for ... all the psychological sciences to cooperate harmoniously" (Routh, 2000, p. 1). However, the subsequent rapid accumulation of knowledge within disciplines of psychology has been accompanied by the formation of Divisions or Sections in scholarly societies such as the American (n = 53) and Canadian Psychological Associations (n = 27) to communicate this knowledge within the respective disciplines. This has facilitated ignorance among the various disciplines of their respective theories, methodologies, and empirical research on their ability to predict, explain, and influence behaviour.

The purpose of the present paper is three-fold. First, we discuss preliminary evidence that suggests that the field of training in I/O psychology can benefit from adapting methodology in clinical psychology, specifically cognitive behavioural psychology, to increasing the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) of trainees in organizational settings. These training techniques include behaviour modeling, self-regulation, functional self-talk, and visualization or mental imagery. Second, based on the successful use of these methodologies, we suggest additional training techniques in clinical psychology that might benefit the trainee. Finally, we argue that a problem in the field of training in I/O psychology is the sole emphasis on ways of increasing the KSAs of trainees. Ways of increasing the KSAs of the trainer have been largely ignored.

Just as benchmarking is a method commonly employed in industry to minimize "re-inventing the wheel," I/O psychology should benefit from benchmarking against clinical psychology as it is the one discipline within psychology that has developed techniques for increasing the KSAs of the clinician. Thus the present paper discusses potential implications of Bordin's (1994) working alliance and Bowlby's (1969, 1979) attachment theory for improving the effectiveness of the trainer, mentor, or coach.

Clinical Psychology Theory and Research

Despite the fact that both I/O and clinical psychology (Rourke, 1995) explicitly advocate a scientist-practitioner model, the two divisions of psychology have largely ignored one another. …