Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

Addiction Studies: Exploring Students' Attitudes toward Research in a Graduate Program

Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

Addiction Studies: Exploring Students' Attitudes toward Research in a Graduate Program

Article excerpt

The scientist-practitioner (S-P) model or "Boulder model" of training has served as the backbone of counseling psychology doctoral programs in the United States for nearly six decades. Ideally, science-practitioners should be able to apply psychological knowledge to their therapeutic work with clients (Jones, & Mehr, 2007). Research and practice should be synthesized into an integrated way of working which will be expressed in practice by employing a scientific approach (Spengler et al., 1995; Jones, & Mehr, 2007). Gelso and Lent (2000), offered the following synopsis: "Ultimately, ... our science and practice will be enhanced by helping our students learn how scholarly work can be done in the context of practice and practice settings" (p. 135). Over the years, leaders in the field have echoed this call by asserting that further integration of science and practice is needed to strengthen counseling psychology (e.g., Heppner, et al., 1992; Heppner, Casas, Carter, & Stone, 2000; Kahn & Gelso, 1997).

Despite the proliferation of research on the S-P model in counseling psychology programs, a lack of investigation in addiction counselor training programs prevails. Part of this may be explained by the sheer numbers of psychology counseling programs as compared to addiction preparatory programs, as well as the underlying structure of addiction counseling. Many addiction counselors are recovering themselves, and historically, the pattern of training and treatment approaches were based on the disease model and 12-step ideology. As such, addiction counselors have been reticent to utilize evidence-based practices and treatments in a formal manner, citing their belief in outdated, empirically flawed methodology. A gap has been noted between what has been shown to be promising in the addiction literature and what is traditionally practiced by clinicians (Hodgson, 1994; Miller, Brown, et al., 1995; Miller & Carroll, 2006; Miller & Hester, 1986).

Although research over the past 30 years has helped advance knowledge of substance use disorders and their treatment efficacy, treatment professionals may find it difficult to keep up with such a broad body of literature that encompasses a diverse array of populations, theoretical approaches, study methods, and findings (Kahler, 1995). Previous research indicates that more than of half of addiction counselors are recovering alcoholics/addicts (Koch & Bianco, 2001). The typical addiction counselor is a recovering alcoholic/addict that gains experience through involvement in twelve-step programs and on-the-job training (Koch & Bianco, 2001; Sheehan, 2003). However, recent changes in formal education requirements for certification has prompted paraprofessionals and professionals to enter addiction studies programs (Taleff, 2003), yet many of them are recovering and continue to practice experiential therapy techniques (Walker-Smith et al., 2004). The treatment field is progressively moving from a culture of "recovering" counselors, to ones who are trained in more of a traditional academic and clinical manner. With this shift in culture of training addiction counselors, was the introduction of and conflict with older, more traditional recovering counselor beliefs regarding research-based treatments. Part of this may also be explained by the way in which information in the scientific literature is presented sub-optimally to current clinicians. If they are not trained on how to understand scientific research, understanding how it relates to their clinical practice will be dismissed. For these reasons, it is important to evaluate the recovery status of addiction counselors and students.

To date, there is a lack of investigation on the S-P model and attitudes toward research for students in addiction counselor training programs. This study explored attitudes toward research of graduate students enrolled in addiction studies and in community counseling programs at a mid-western University and identified factors that influenced their attitudes. …

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