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The Scientist-Practitioner-Advocate Model: Addressing Contemporary Training Needs for Social Justice Advocacy

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Expanding on ideas originally proposed by Fassinger and O'Brien (2000), we describe the scientistpractitioner-advocate model for doctoral training in professional psychology, designed to more effectively meet the needs of clients whose presenting problems are rooted in a sociocultural context of oppression and unjust distribution of resources and opportunities. This alternative training model incorporates social justice advocacy, thereby equipping graduates to address social contexts implicated in clients' suffering instead of only the symptoms manifest in a treatment hour. The tripartite model capitalizes on synergies between the new advocate role and the traditional researcher role (e.g., social action research designed to promote change), and between the advocate role and practitioner role (e.g., consciousness raising, public persuasion, and empowerment). At the intersection of all 3 domains is a new type of practicum in social justice advocacy, supported by training in intergroup dialogue facilitation. We describe proposed knowledge, skills, and attitude components of the advocate role, together with a 10-credit curriculum adopted by the University of Tennessee, Counseling Psychology Program. In 2009, this program was the first to be accredited by the American Psychological Association with a scientist-practitioner-advocate training model. Practical challenges in implementation are described. Finally, we discuss implications for course development, student selection, and evaluation of training outcomes.
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Training and Education in Professional
Psychology
The Scientist-Practitioner-Advocate Model: Addressing
Contemporary Training Needs for Social Justice Advocacy
Brent Mallinckrodt, Joseph R. Miles, and Jacob J. Levy
Online First Publication, June 23, 2014. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/tep0000045
CITATION
Mallinckrodt, B., Miles, J. R., & Levy, J. J. (2014, June 23). The Scientist-Practitioner-Advocate
Model: Addressing Contemporary Training Needs for Social Justice Advocacy. Training and
Education in Professional Psychology. Advance online publication.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/tep0000045
The Scientist-Practitioner-Advocate Model:
Addressing Contemporary Training Needs for Social Justice Advocacy
Brent Mallinckrodt, Joseph R. Miles, and Jacob J. Levy
University of Tennessee
Expanding on ideas originally proposed by Fassinger and O’Brien (2000), we describe the scientist-
practitioner-advocate model for doctoral training in professional psychology, designed to more effec-
tively meet the needs of clients whose presenting problems are rooted in a sociocultural context of
oppression and unjust distribution of resources and opportunities. This alternative training model
incorporates social justice advocacy, thereby equipping graduates to address social contexts implicated
in clients’ suffering instead of only the symptoms manifest in a treatment hour. The tripartite model
capitalizes on synergies between the new advocate role and the traditional researcher role (e.g., social
action research designed to promote change), and between the advocate role and practitioner role (e.g.,
consciousness raising, public persuasion, and empowerment). At the intersection of all 3 domains is a
new type of practicum in social justice advocacy, supported by training in intergroup dialogue facilita-
tion. We describe proposed knowledge, skills, and attitude components of the advocate role, together
with a 10-credit curriculum adopted by the University of Tennessee, Counseling Psychology Program. In
2009, this program was the first to be accredited by the American Psychological Association with a
scientist-practitioner-advocate training model. Practical challenges in implementation are described.
Finally, we discuss implications for course development, student selection, and evaluation of training
outcomes.
Keywords: critical consciousness, doctoral training models, intergroup dialogue, social justice, Scientist-
Practitioner-Advocate
The scientist-practitioner training model has received wide-
spread support since its adoption at the 1951 Northwestern Con-
ference (Belar & Perry, 1992; Rodolfa, Kaslow, Stewart, Kelin, &
Baker, 2005), but it has also been a focus of controversy. For
example, Meehl (1971) held that training students to produce
research was not necessary to develop well-informed, scholarly,
and critical consumers of research, who are skilled in the applica-
tion of psychological science. Frank (1984) argued that producing
research is incompatible with most students’ interests and abilities.
In contrast, Gelso (2006) asserted that programs must do more to
engage the interests of practice-oriented students, by emphasizing
aspects of research training environments that have been empiri-
cally demonstrated as effective for students with practice interests
(Mallinckrodt & Gelso, 2002; Mallinckrodt, Gelso, & Royalty,
1990). Thus, the bulk of criticism in the first 50 years following the
Northwestern Conference, and all alternatives to scientist-
practitioner training that emerged during this period—for example,
the practitioner-scholar model (Ellis, 1992; Korman, 1974), and
the clinical scientist training model (McFall, 2012)—can be de-
scribed as variations in the relative emphasis on research versus
practice training. In contrast, the focus of this article is on a critical
analysis of graduate training that is orthogonal to the science
versus practice dimension. From this perspective no combination
of these two traditional domains is entirely adequate. A third
domain, social justice advocacy, is necessary to meet the demands
of contemporary graduate training. In the remainder of this article,
we (a) summarize the rationale for a scientist-practitioner-advocate
(SPA) training model; (b) describe how the advocate component
BRENT MALLINCKRODT received his PhD in counseling psychology from
the University of Maryland. He is associate dean for graduate studies in the
College of Arts and Sciences, and professor of counseling psychology in
the Department of Psychology at the University of Tennessee. His areas of
professional interest include the research environment and social justice
advocacy in graduate training, as well as attachment theory and the
psychotherapy relationship.
J
OSEPH R. MILES received his PhD in counseling psychology from the
University of Maryland. He is assistant professor of counseling psychology
in the Department of Psychology at the University of Tennessee. His areas
of professional interest include the process and outcomes of intergroup
dialogue and group counseling; multicultural education; lesbian, gay, bi-
sexual, and transgender issues; and health equity.
JACOB J. LEVY received his PhD in counseling psychology from Indiana
University. He is associate professor and director of the counseling psy-
chology program in the Department of Psychology at the University of
Tennessee. His areas of professional interest include performance psychol-
ogy, personality assessment and talent development; as well as the inter-
section of personal characteristics with environmental demands as related
to career development, multicultural counseling, and gifted and talented
populations.
RESOURCES DESCRIBING THE Scientist-Practitioner-Advocate training model
are available at the program website: http://psychology.utk.edu/gradstudy/
counseling/spa_model.shtml
CORRESPONDENCE CONCERNING THIS ARTICLE should be addressed to Brent
Mallinckrodt, 1404 Circle Drive, Room 305, University of Tennessee,
Knoxville, TN, 37996. E-mail: bmallinc@utk.edu
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This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
Training and Education in Professional Psychology © 2014 American Psychological Association
2014, Vol. 8, No. 2, 000 1931-3918/14/$12.00 http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/tep0000045
1
interacts synergistically to strengthen the scientist and practitioner
components; (c) briefly describe our process of curriculum devel-
opment, which identified specific knowledge, skills, attitudes, and
value facets of social justice advocacy to incorporate in training;
(d) provide an overview of the curriculum we designed to deliver
these components, including how students’ mastery is assessed;
and (e) discuss our experience with implementing the model,
selecting students, and evaluating training outcomes.
A Case for SPA Training
The foundation for revising doctoral training at the University of
Tennessee’s Counseling Psychology Program in 2007 was
Fassinger and O’Brien’s (2000) call for SPA training. This call
was framed as a recommendation for counselors to better meet the
career development needs of college women. The essence of their
argument was that sociocultural processes, such as gender role
stereotypes, and the ways that college career development services
are structured to benefit men:
[Place] women at a disadvantage (relative to men) in the educational
system, the workplace, and the family...Thus, vocational counseling
focused solely on helping individual women cope with their own
untenable circumstances, without an explicit analysis and articulation
of the sociocultural factors that create those circumstances, in effect
supports the status quo and ignores the need for sweeping social
change...Women’s vocational problems are problems of context:
therefore, only solutions...that recognize and incorporate elements
of contextual change will be truly effective. (p. 256)
Fassinger and O’Brien pointed out the limitations of interven-
tions focused only on individual clients and instead called for
graduate training that augments the scientist-practitioner model
with skills in prevention and advocacy to address the contextual
factors that are the source of individual clients’ distress.
To our knowledge, Fassinger and O’Brien (2000) were the first
to explicitly call for a SPA training model. Although their appeal
was focused on improving the effectiveness of vocational coun-
seling, primarily for women, the same arguments are equally
powerful and persuasive for training students to serve any popu-
lation whose presenting problems stem, even in part, from unjust
social systems of privilege and oppression. Privilege refers to
unearned advantages accrued by individuals based solely on their
perceived membership in social identity groups (e.g., White peo-
ple, males, heterosexuals), which confer dominance to members of
these groups (McIntosh, 2007). Conversely, oppression refers to
interpersonal and institutional forms of prejudice and discrimina-
tion that disempower, disadvantage, and restrict the personal de-
velopment and self-determination of targeted individuals (Bell,
2010), based solely on their perceived membership in certain
social identity groups (e.g., people of color; gender and sexual
minorities). Privilege and oppression are pervasive forces that
create unjust, hierarchical social systems that disproportionately
benefit some, while restricting others (Bell, 2010; McIntosh,
2007). A large and growing body of literature has documented the
negative impact that oppression has on health and well-being for a
wide range of populations (cf. Katz-Wise & Hyde, 2012; Lee &
Ahn, 2011, 2012, 2013; Pascoe & Smart Richman, 2009).
Thus, in the years since Fassinger and O’Brien (2000) first
argued for SPA training, their call has been extended to cover all
of professional practice. Drawing from feminist and multicultural
frameworks, counseling psychologists are urged to expand their
roles to incorporate social justice advocacy as part of a basic
commitment to multicultural competence (Goodman et al., 2004;
Vera & Speight, 2003). Chapters in the Handbook of Social Justice
in Counseling Psychology describe how social justice perspectives
can be infused into a graduate curriculum (Talleyrand, Chung, &
Bemak, 2006; Toporek & McNally, 2006). A focus on social
context in psychological treatment is, of course, not a new concept.
Within the field of counseling psychology, it can be traced back at
least as far as Frank Parsons’ vocational guidance work and
advocacy for low socioeconomic status clients (Gelso & Fretz,
2001). An implicit focus on social justice is evident throughout the
field’s history (Fouad, Gerstein, & Toporek, 2006), but the call for
increased attention to social justice is not limited to counseling
psychology. For example, social justice, liberation, and well-being
have long been central themes in community psychology (Nelson
& Prilleltensky, 2010). There have also been interdisciplinary calls
for increased social justice training in predoctoral internships
(Burnes & Manese, 2008), clinical supervision (Hernandez, 2008;
Smith, 2009), and practicum (Burnes & Singh, 2010; Lewis,
2010); and in a special section of this journal dedicated to social
justice training (Toporek & Vaughn, 2010). The National Council
of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology (2007) iden-
tified developmental competencies levels for graduate students
that include, “the ability to reflect on and responsibly use one’s
own experiences of power, oppression, and privilege in profes-
sional roles to promote social justice [and the]...courage and
willingness to address power, oppression, and privilege in multiple
professional roles” (p. 27).
Calls like these served as a guiding framework when our faculty
met in 2007 to undertake a thorough curriculum revision. We
believe that students who are trained as practitioners only to
provide treatment inside the therapy room, or who are trained as
researchers only to study therapy processes and outcomes, are not
fully prepared. Because the presenting symptoms of many clients
represent their manifestly understandable and predictable reactions
to oppression and economic injustice, to address only their symp-
toms while ignoring the sociocultural context is to maintain the
status quo of injustice and oppression (Fassinger & O’Brien, 2000;
Vera & Speight, 2003). From this perspective, for example, treat-
ing only the anxiety symptoms of a female client who faces
constant worry about how to pay for rent, food, childcare, or health
care is not acceptable professional practice. The revision of our
curriculum was prompted by a deeply troubling sense of the
logical and ethical contradictions in training students only to
address symptoms of injustice, while leaving graduates poorly
equipped to address the systems of oppression that lead to clients’
symptoms. In 2012, the version of the SPA training model de-
scribed here received the American Psychological Association
(APA) Board of Educational Affairs/Council of Graduate Depart-
ments of Psychology award for Innovative Practices in Graduate
Education (Wojcik, 2012). At the award ceremony the innovation
was described as the difference between helping a person forced to
stand in the rain attempt to dry off with a towel versus providing
her with a raincoat, while investigating access to raincoats and
advocating policies that produce their more equitable distribution.
Thus, contemporary, comprehensive graduate training must pre-
pare students to intervene at both individual and systemic levels to
effectively serve clients (Goodman et al., 2004; Vera & Speight,
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2
MALLINCKRODT, MILES, AND LEVY
2003). Moreover, interventions across these levels must use the
skills of social justice advocacy (Fassinger & O’Brien, 2000;
Toporek & Vaughn, 2010). We believe that this training is best
operationalized in the tripartite, SPA training model described in
the next section.
A Tripartite Model of Interlocking Strengths
Figure 1 depicts the training model adopted by the University of
Tennessee’s Counseling Psychology Program, in 2007, which led
to reaccreditation in 2009. (The program had been continuously
accredited since 1980 with a scientist-practitioner training model.)
Our vision was to add the social justice advocate component
without diminishing a strong commitment to the scientist and
practitioner elements. We continue to place a very high value on
the integration of science and practice. Training emphasizes com-
petence in each of these two domains. Equally important, students
are trained to use research skills to enhance the effectiveness of
their practice, and to use their intervention skills to inform the
research questions they pursue. Just as the roles of scientist and
practitioner are mutually enhancing, we believe the role of advo-
cate strengthens the application of both science and practice and is
strengthened by the two traditional elements.
The intersection of practice and advocacy involves moving
outside the treatment setting to facilitate change at an organiza-
tional or systemic level and to advocate for clients’ needs with
policymakers. Within treatment settings, the SPA model requires
therapists to avoid replicating hierarchical or oppressive sociocul-
tural dynamics. The model also calls for empowering clients, to
help them find their own voices and develop the skills to advocate
for themselves, if they choose to do so. The intersection of re-
search and advocacy emphasizes rigorous research as one of the
most effective tools for advocacy. For example, epidemiological
studies can be a persuasive means of documenting social problems
and suggesting possible solutions. Needs assessment, program
development, and program evaluation serve as powerful means to
help large numbers of clients and foster systemic social change.
Advocacy goals can become the foundation for a systematic pro-
gram of research. Thus, science becomes an act of advocacy in the
best traditions of social action research (Lewin, 1948/1997).
Fassinger and O’Brien (2000, pp. 263–264) argued for “abandon-
ing the illusion of scientific detachment and objectivity that is a
legacy from the positivist model of science . . . all professional
activities (research, teaching, training, consultation, supervision)
are political acts that have social consequences.” We agree with
this position, including the importance of always considering the
political implications of research. However, our SPA model
stresses the importance of rigorous methodology to minimize the
impact of inevitable researcher biases. Acknowledgment of bias,
and attempting to control it is especially important when planning
research for the purpose of advocacy, because poorly controlled
and poorly executed research is neither good science nor good
advocacy.
Developing and Refining a Curriculum
Four key domains of competencies have been identified for
psychological practice: knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values
(Belar & Perry, 1992). Models of multicultural competencies
further distinguish self-awareness as a critical component of the
knowledge domain (Sue, Arredondo, & McDavis, 1992). Thus, our
key task for curriculum development was to identify aspects of
these domains that graduates must acquire to serve as advocates
for social justice. However, we could not proceed until we arrived
at a consensus definition for the illusive construct of social justice;
namely, what outcomes do we want graduates to achieve when we
Science
Practice
Advocacy
Action research;
research as
advocacy
Advocating for clients,
empowering them
to advocate
for themselves
Science informs
practice; practice
generates research
ideas
Figure 1. The Scientist-Practitioner-Advocate Training Model.
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3
SCIENTIST PRACTITIONER ADVOCATE MODEL
train them as advocates for social justice? Equity and liberty are at
the core of most definitions of social justice (Speight & Vera,
2008). Bell (2010) defined social justice as the “full and equal
participation of all groups in a society that is mutually shaped to
meet their needs” (p. 21). Social justice requires the equitable
distribution of advantages, opportunities, and resources (Fouad,
Gerstein, & Toporek, 2006; O’Brien, 2001; Vera & Speight,
2003); as well as physical and psychological safety for all mem-
bers of society (Bell, 2010). Thus, for our training program, we
operationalized social justice advocacy as the professional activi-
ties that facilitate a more equitable distribution of risks, advan-
tages, opportunities, and resources, together with full and equal
participation by all members within a society.
Many resources were useful in identifying specific educational
objectives to meet this training goal, including descriptions of
social justice training at other programs (Goodman et al., 2004;
Talleyrand, Chung, & Bemak, 2006). Two resources were espe-
cially helpful for conceptualizing types and levels of advocacy
skills: Bronfenbrenner’s (1979) ecological model, and the social
justice advocacy competencies of the American Counseling Asso-
ciation (Ratts, Toporek, Lewis, & American Counseling Associa-
tion, 2010; Toporek, Lewis, & Crethar, 2009). Toporek et al.
described the 2 3 matrix of advocacy skills shown in Figure 2
(see also Lewis, Arnold, House, & Toporek, 2003). The vertical
dimension distinguishes between “acting with” one’s clients as a
consultant and collaborating advocate, versus “acting on behalf” to
advocate without clients’ direct participation. The horizontal di-
mension describes three widening concentric circles of “micro” to
“macro” social ecology: (a) client/student, (b) community/school,
and (c) public arena. Curriculum development began in 2007, but
the process is (Ratts, Toporek, & Lewis, 2010; Toporek, Lewis, &
Crethar, 2009) ongoing. Our continuing efforts to refine and re-
valuate the curriculum are guided by emerging research on the
social justice training experiences of students (Beer, Spanierman,
Greene, & Todd, 2012; Miller & Sendrowitz, 2011), the compe-
tency benchmarks for trainees in all APA practice specialties
(Fouad et al., 2009), and the recent emergence of specialty com-
petencies for counseling psychology that emphasize social justice
and prevention (Juntunen & Jackson, 2013). The remainder of this
section presents a sampling rather than a comprehensive list of the
competencies we identified.
In terms of the knowledge domain, we believe that social justice
advocacy requires a basic understanding of the causes and impacts
of income inequality, health disparities, and inequitable educa-
tional opportunities; together with sexism, racism, heterosexism,
and other forms of oppression likely to affect clients. Knowledge
about sources of bias in psychological assessment and diagnosis is
also critical. Social justice advocates must draw upon foundational
knowledge in psychology, for example, the social psychology
literature on interpersonal perception, prejudice, and attitude
change; as well as knowledge about the biological processes and
consequences for human development of chronic stress, poor diet,
and exposure to environmental toxins. Training in research design
must include knowledge of epidemiological methods, participatory
action research, needs assessment, and program evaluation. Al-
though these knowledge components can be delivered by infusing
content into courses already offered in many scientist-practitioner
programs, we identified additional content from disciplines outside
psychology that we believe is critical for social justice advocacy.
This content draws upon critical multicultural education; political
science; history (e.g., of social movements); rhetoric; sociological
theory (e.g., critical race theory, feminist and queer theories,
Marxism, social constructionism); and social work.
Following from multicultural and feminist principles, those who
engage in social justice work are encouraged to engage in ongoing
self-examination (Goodman et al., 2004). Consequently, we view
self-awareness as an important part of the knowledge domain,
which includes developing a critical awareness regarding one’s
Figure 2. Social Justice Advocacy Competencies. Adapted from “Promoting Systemic Change through the
ACA Advocacy Competencies” by Rebecca L. Toporek, Judith A. Lewis, and Hugh C. Crethar, 2009, Journal
of Counseling and Development, 87, p. 267. Copyright 2009 by the John Wiley and Sons.
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4
MALLINCKRODT, MILES, AND LEVY
own social identities and socialization, as well as how these
identities situate one’s self within hierarchical social systems of
privilege and oppression. Self-awareness also includes continual
examination of one’s own biases and areas for further learning and
growth in relation to multicultural issues. Participating in dia-
logues focused on social identities and social issues (Zúñiga,
Nagda, Chesler, & Walker, 2007) can help in this self-examination
and can also help identify one’s “hot buttons” and emotional
reactions when communicating with others about these issues.
The self-awareness component of knowledge overlaps with the
domains of attitudes and values, particularly with respect to the
professional “habits of mind” (Dyche & Epstein, 2011) we hoped
to instill. For example, a critical professional value, drawing from
multicultural and feminist perspectives, is an eagerness to actively
engage in continued self-examination of one’s biases, stereotypes,
emotional reactions, and bases of privilege; as well as working to
collaboratively share power with clients and give voice to those
who have been silenced or suppressed (Goodman et al., 2004),
rather than repeating the status quo of oppression. Another habit of
mind is what Freire (2007) called “conscientizaçcão,” or “critical
consciousness,” which includes the ability to “perceive social,
political, and economic contradictions, and to take action against
the oppressive elements of reality” (p. 35), a habit of focusing on
the strengths of individuals and communities, and desire to help
clients develop tools that promote autonomy and self-
determination. Building upon critical consciousness, at multiple
points throughout training we seek to develop in students a capac-
ity to examine social context in thinking about clients’ circum-
stances, together with a value for always weighing contextual
factors and person–environment interactions in struggling to un-
derstand a client’s experience.
In the skills domain, we identified components in each of the six
cells of the Toporek et al. (2009) model shown in Figure 2. Acting
with individual clients requires empowering them to find their own
voice and develop tools of self-advocacy. Acting with clients at the
community level requires students to develop a sequence of three
skills deployed in collaboration with clients: (a) needs assessment,
(b) systemic program development, and (c) program evaluation to
address the identified needs. These skills also involve teaching
clients tactics for community organization. For our students, acting
with clients in the public arena involves skills to assist and
empower groups of clients to “go public” with their concerns. For
example, students might help clients develop a petition to circulate
in their community or prepare a letter addressed to a lawmaker,
public official, or newspaper editor. Students are prepared to share
their knowledge of lobbying, fund raising, and how to influence
public policy to assist clients in doing these activities for them-
selves. Moving to the lower half of Figure 2, acting on behalf of
clients involves skills of persuasion through respectful dialogue,
generally interacting with one individual at a time to benefit one
particular client (e.g., persuading a hiring agent to interview a
client with a disability). In contrast, working on behalf of clients at
a community level and working on behalf of clients in the public
arena involves the skills of community consciousness-raising
through public speaking, political lobbying, community organiza-
tion, and persuasion through print media. Students learn how
social action research and epidemiological designs can be used in
the service of advocacy. Important supportive skills that cut across
all six cells of the Toporek et al. (2009) model include self-care
and prevention of compassion fatigue.
In 2010, we included a new cluster of competencies in our
continuing reappraisal of the curriculum. We concluded that the
knowledge, skills, and attitudes/values in the emerging area of
intergroup dialogue (IGD) would provide students with critical
capacities that did not receive sufficient emphasis in the first
iterations of the SPA model. Students enrolled at that time were
quite enthusiastic about the addition, together with campus student
affairs administrators and staff of the counseling center, which
serves as our primary practicum site. Dialogue has been proposed
as an effective means for addressing issues related to multicultur-
alism in group work (Chen, Thombs, & Costa, 2003). Dialogue
also responds to recent calls for greater attention to social justice
in group counseling (Burnes & Ross, 2010; Smith & Shin, 2008;
Speight & Vera, 2008). IGD is a small group intervention that
creates a space for sustained, face-to-face communication between
individuals from social identity groups with a history of tension or
conflict (e.g., people of color with White people; sexual minority
people with heterosexual people) (Zúñiga et al., 2007). Dialogue is
different from other forms of communication such as debate, in
that it aims to develop mutual understanding of others, from their
perspectives, rather than to “win” or persuade others that one’s
own perspective is the correct one (Bohm, 1996). The knowledge
and awareness goals of IGD includes developing a critical con-
sciousness about personal identities, social identities, and hierar-
chical social systems. The skills goals of IGD include building
relationships and capacities for sustained communication across
groups (i.e., communicating through conflict rather than disengag-
ing or avoiding conflictual issues), together with skills for
strengthening individual and collective capacities to promote so-
cial justice (Zúñiga et al., 2007).
For each training goal identified, we then constructed a course
development matrix with three columns. The knowledge, skill, or
attitude/value learning objective was listed first, followed by a
column to indicate how the objective will be achieved, followed in
the last column by how mastery of the objective will be assessed.
For several learning objectives, the second column designated a
specific course already in the required doctoral curriculum. In
these cases, the design team focused on ensuring that the required
content was included in that course, and that mastery of this
content was adequately assessed. For example, social justice topics
were infused in courses on diagnosis and treatment planning,
multicultural counseling, assessment, and vocational psychology
(e.g., examining sociocultural issues in career development, un-
derstanding the complexities of psychological and vocational as-
sessment as they relate to fairness and bias, advocating for appro-
priate test usage within various organizations and systems). To
develop skills for intervening at a systems level, students are
required to take either a course in organizational psychology or a
course in college teaching that develops their outreach presentation
skills. Finally, a “capstone elective” must be taken outside the
program. Courses in sociology, law, anthropology, economics,
political science, ethnic/racial studies, cultural studies, or women’s
studies are encouraged to fulfill this requirement. However, after
reconfiguring existing courses, a considerable number of learning
objectives remained. To achieve these goals, we created the four
new courses described in the next section.
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5
SCIENTIST PRACTITIONER ADVOCATE MODEL
Overview of the Specialized Curriculum
The first requirement in the specialized curriculum for social
justice advocacy is a three-credit didactic practicum, “Advanced
Group Methods: Intergroup Dialogue.” This course is designed to
build upon students’ knowledge of group theory and skill in group
facilitation, as well as knowledge, skills, and awareness of multi-
cultural and social justice issues. Thus, prerequisites are a basic
course in group dynamics and group therapy, a course in multi-
cultural counseling, and at least one semester of practicum work-
ing with individual clients. After an initial 6 weeks of readings,
didactic instruction, and experiential activities, graduate students
cofacilitate an 8-week intergroup dialogue group of six to 10
undergraduate students enrolled in a multicultural psychology
course offered in parallel with this graduate didactic practicum.
For undergraduate students, the IGDs are intended to complement
the more traditional didactic instruction that they receive in the
larger multicultural psychology course, thus adding an important
affective component to learning about often difficult and emotion-
ally laden issues (e.g., experiences with privilege and oppression).
The groups follow a four-stage model (Zúñiga et al., 2007) in
which participants (a) work to build trusting relationships, (b)
explore commonalities and differences in experiences based on
social identities (e.g., experiences with privilege and oppression),
(c) explore and dialogue about difficult “hot topics” related to
identity on an institutional or systemic level (e.g., in an IGD on
sexual orientation, participants might dialogue about same-sex
marriage), and (d) prior to termination, engage in alliance building,
and social action planning. Additional goals for doctoral students
include building on an introspective analysis of one’s own social
identities and experiences with privilege and oppression. Thus, this
course forms a bridge between our first graduate multicultural
counseling seminar, and the Social Justice Practicum to follow, by
extending the process of self-discovery and by deepening students’
critical consciousness of the sociocultural context of identity-based
group conflicts and social justice. Mastery is assessed through
direct observation and supervision by the instructor as students
cofacilitate the groups, as well as through ongoing critical reflec-
tion journals and a summative paper.
The second required course is the Social Justice Colloquium
(SJC). The SJC is offered for one credit in spring semester and can
be taken at the same time as Advanced Group Methods. The first
goal of the colloquium is to introduce students to a range of social
justice issues in our community, and to the human service agencies
and community organizers who are attempting to address these
issues. The roster of speakers each year is tailored to students’
interests but typically includes representatives from agencies
working to address homelessness, domestic violence, sexual as-
sault, inequity in the criminal justice system, hunger and “food
deserts,” the needs of sexual minority youth, hate crimes, political
refugee welfare and immigrant rights, and health disparities. Each
speaker is asked to discuss the particular social injustice that is the
focus of her or his agency, and to describe the ways in which the
agency works with and for individuals from social identity groups
who are the target of this injustice. Many of these agencies become
placement sites for the Social Justice Practicum (SJP, described
below). Thus, a second goal of this course is to bring students
together with potential SJP sites and placement supervisors. By the
conclusion of the summer semester following the colloquium,
students and the two SJP faculty instructors negotiate a memoran-
dum of understanding with a particular site that will serve as a
student’s year-long SJP placement, beginning at the start of the
next academic year.
The SJP is a two-semester, six-credit, didactic practicum se-
quence with the primary goal of integrating the scientist, practi-
tioner, and advocate elements of our training model. Across the
two semesters, SJP students are required to spend one half day per
week working with their practicum site. Although they might work
on a very limited basis with individual clients, providing tradi-
tional individual or group counseling must not be the primary
focus. Instead, students are required to engage in activities that
foster change at an institutional or systemic level. The two semes-
ters of SJP provide the primary means of gaining advocacy skills
from each of the six cells in the Toporek et al. (2009) model shown
in Figure 2. Mastery is assessed through these assignments that
require students to apply new skills: (a) a personal theory of social
justice and orientation toward advocacy paper; (b) a social con-
sciousness raising presentation to a lay audience, after critique and
rehearsal presentation before classmates; (c) a letter or op-ed piece
for possible submission to a local newspaper to advocate for a
social issue; (d) a client empowerment project whose goal is to
help “give voice” collaboratively to a client (or clients) whose
personal narrative has been suppressed; and (e) a paper on the
social change strategies and political tactics of a particular com-
munity organizer or social change leader (e.g., Harvey Milk,
Evelyn Hooker, A. Philip Randolph, Diane Nash, Gloria Steinem).
The core of SJP, and the assignment that requires the most sus-
tained student effort is a three-step project consisting of (a) needs
assessment, (b) program/intervention development, and (c) pro-
gram evaluation. Mastery of these three elements is assessed
through a single integrated portfolio that describes the needs
assessment, program/intervention, and program evaluation. To-
gether with all SJP assignments, this portfolio is preserved by our
program for future students who may decide to advance the proj-
ect. Syllabi for these courses are available from the authors upon
request.
Implications for Student Selection and Matriculation
Adopting the SPA training model required modification of
admission and selection procedures. A new application essay asks
for student interests and experiences in social justice advocacy. To
ensure students are informed consumers, they are asked to care-
fully review and agree to the program’s statement of training
values prior to accepting an offer of admission. Perhaps the biggest
impact is that the new curriculum has added 10 credits to a
program that was already quite demanding. Students entering with
no previous graduate coursework are now required to complete
126 semester credits, which generally requires 5 years of on-
campus study. Fortunately, our department has been able to finan-
cially support all students who stay on campus for a fifth year—
although this is by no means guaranteed. Students do not accrue
many client contact hours in the SJP, although they do gain
experience in outreach and prevention activities. Because it is not
difficult to acquire more than 500 direct service hours in the
second through fourth year of our program, Advanced Group
Methods, SJC, and SJP are not an impediment to internship—quite
the contrary. We have anecdotal evidence that the skills of inter-
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6
MALLINCKRODT, MILES, AND LEVY
group dialogue, multicultural consultation, and social justice ad-
vocacy have given our students a competitive advantage at intern-
ships high on their match list.
Compromises have been necessary to teach these 10 new credits
and cover other graduate requirements with only five and a half
full-time graduate teaching faculty. For example, two general
course requirements in assessment are offered only once every 2
years to free up teaching resources. The one credit SJC has been
taught is an overload, and it has been necessary for the two faculty
members who teach the SJP in successive semesters to frequently
sit in on each others’ courses to coordinate instruction. However,
these are not perceived as onerous requirements. Our faculty
believes the curriculum revisions improved our existing courses,
and that the benefits of adopting the SPA model far outweigh the
increased effort. The new curriculum is very rewarding to teach,
and the new training model aligns better with our personal values.
In the first 4 years after adoption of the SPA model, applications
to the program increased by 240%. The proportion of international
and U.S. ethnic/racial minority students admitted has increased, as
well as the number of students who bring many other forms of
diversity.
SPA model training requires heightened attention to profes-
sional ethics, particularly with regard to clarifying multiple rela-
tionships and potential conflicts of interest in advocacy. The ad-
ditional requirements of social justice advocacy training also
increase the number of dimensions of competency a student must
demonstrate. All students are evaluated each year and provided
with written narrative feedback that includes their performance in
the three domains of research, practice, and advocacy—although
the latter usually does not figure as a prominent part of evaluation
until the last two years on campus. At times, we, like all programs,
are faced with a situation where a student’s performance is deemed
substandard and remediation or termination from the program is
indicated. As with any APA-accredited training program, we strive
to provide clear and consistent feedback regarding students’ per-
formance and progress, as well as a remedial plan that allows
students appropriate opportunities to return to good academic
standing.
Adopting the SPA model poses some general challenges at the
program and institutional levels. The model requires that faculty
aspire to “walk the talk” of social justice by aligning our actions
with our values in all of our policies and interactions with students
and others. As we empower students and they grow in critical
consciousness, it is understandable that their critiques focus occa-
sionally on our program itself and its wider institutional environ-
ment, for example, the lack of faculty benefits for same sex
partners. On these occasions we feel heightened pride and respect
for our students, as they act upon their values and use the advocacy
skills we have helped them develop. We aspire to view their
critiques as gifts (Edwards, 2008). We grow to become better
faculty because of the students’ advocacy, and for many of us this
is one of the greatest satisfactions of adopting the SPA training
model. In addition, although ours is a counseling psychology
program, we see similar advantages, and no greater challenges, for
any APA accredited clinical or school psychology program in
adopting the SPA training model. Regardless of specialty, SPA
training does require a strong and broad commitment to multicul-
tural training, and access to faculty and courses that can provide
the necessary emphasis on social context and critical conscious-
ness training.
Assessment of Student Outcomes
Since the 1996 revision of APA accreditation guidelines, there
has been an increased focus on evaluating training outcomes
commensurate with a program’s stated training model (Belar,
2006). Therefore, it is incumbent on programs that adopt an SPA
model to take special steps to evaluate outcomes of advocacy
training, for current students as well as graduates. The program
handbook describes four general learning objectives: (a) develop-
ing an understanding how the context of social problems impact
the lives of individuals; (b) demonstrating skills in the methods of
social action research and be able to use empirical skills as tools
for advocacy and to promote social change; (c) developing effec-
tive interventions targeted at the level of institutions or systems,
influencing public policy decisions, and evaluating the effective-
ness of these interventions; and (d) learning to work with individ-
ual clients to help them make informed choices about the costs and
benefits of engaging in advocacy for themselves.
Assessment of how well the program achieves these objectives
is accomplished through multiple channels. First, in terms of short
range data we have the final work products of SJP students, which
require intensive application of their skills. Second, students in SJP
complete weekly reflection papers about their developing under-
standing of the processes involved in social justice advocacy.
These notes provide ongoing feedback for faculty about how
adequately prepared students feel to perform at their SJP site. In
the most recent SJP, students’ weekly notes highlighted struggles
with insufficient resources to accomplish their goals, the im-
portance of communication, developing knowledge of power
structures in their agency, developing knowledge about cultural
groups through engagement, emotional issues (e.g., guilt at not
being able to accomplish more, frustration with roadblocks
encountered, anxiety about own skill level and engaging in the
process of social justice work), and their development of aware-
ness (e.g., of issues related to intersectionality, continued de-
velopment of awareness of one’s own privilege).
A second assessment channel was a 2012 anonymous survey. Of
all currently enrolled students, 19 (61%) responded, providing 27
single-spaced pages of feedback in answer to 22 qualitative ques-
tions. In general, students were very satisfied with the social
justice aspect of their training, including several who mentioned
this was a key strength of the program that had attracted them to
apply and accept an offer here. They also mentioned passion and
commitment to social justice as a strength of the faculty. However,
a question asking about “challenges and problems you believe
need to be addressed” elicited comments that the social justice
components of training: (a) need to be more integrated throughout
the curriculum with applied opportunities earlier—not just the SJP;
(b) contribute to a feeling of being overwhelmed with tasks and
expectations that include teaching, research, and clinical practice
in addition to social justice advocacy; and (c) are not universally
valued or understood by all Psychology Department faculty.
A third source of evaluation information comes from program
outputs. Among these, we note that the number of Master’s theses
and dissertations exploring social justice themes has increased
dramatically, with an aspect of multiculturalism of social justice as
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7
SCIENTIST PRACTITIONER ADVOCATE MODEL
a central theme in over half of the student initiated research
projects produced in the past four years. The internship match rate
continues at 89.9% after adoption of the SPA model, with place-
ments at a variety of internship settings including university coun-
seling centers, VA hospitals, and military programs.
Finally, to aid assessment of student outcomes, we formally
evaluate students on the competencies identified in both APA’s
Benchmark Evaluation System and the Counseling Psychology
Benchmark Competencies. Students complete a self-assessment on
these dimensions and faculty discuss and evaluate students’ per-
formance at yearly evaluation meetings. Beginning in fall 2013,
program graduates now complete similar biannual surveys provid-
ing self-assessments of their competencies, along with information
regarding licensure status, and employment and job duties. We are
particularly interested in examining whether and how students who
matriculated after our model change integrate social advocacy in
their professional work relative to graduates who matriculated
prior to 2008.
Conclusion
A focus on clients’ sociocultural context is not new in APA
accredited disciplines. However, there is a growing awareness that
the traditional domains of research and practice are not sufficient
to meet contemporary demands for graduates to be equipped not
only to intervene and to study presenting problems at the level of
individuals (or groups), but also at the level of social systems. The
SPA model initially described by Fassinger and O’Brien (2000)
and elaborated in the present article holds considerable promise for
preparing psychologists to meet the needs of clients in a new
century—one in which technology magnifies the impact of culture
and social context on individual lives, and one in which disparities
in distribution of income and opportunity have reached levels not
seen since just prior to the Great Depression of the 1930s (Atkin-
son, Piketty, & Saez, 2011). We believe demand will build for this
training from students and from a widening range of settings that
will employ them. Experience with the SPA model in more pro-
grams, together with rigorous evaluation of training outcomes, will
determine whether its promise will be realized.
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Received June 21, 2013
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Accepted February 3, 2014
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9
SCIENTIST PRACTITIONER ADVOCATE MODEL
... In this regard, Kozan and Blustein [35] highlighted that, practitioners working with disadvantaged populations are challenged to use their clinical experience for advocacy purposes, and thus to contribute to fostering structural change in societies. Mallinckrodt et al. [36] argued that the scientistpractitioner-advocate model is particularly relevant when those served are affected by social justice issues. This model challenges practitioners not only to work with the symptoms presented by individuals who experience racial hostility, but also to work to prevent those experiences by addressing social justice concerns. ...
... The goal of the process was to build a tool that was as culturally sensitive as possible, to be used by professionals working with RASI to explore the negative impact of racial hostility, facilitate interventions to reduce this impact on those affected, and advocate against society's overt or subtle mistreatment of RASI by using the PEI instrument for data collection on discrimination. In this way, the new PEI tool would encourage professionals working with RASI to use the scientist-practitioner-advocate model [36]. ...
... The first objective was to build a new tool that was as culturally sensitive as possible, which could be used by professionals to identify RASI's potential reactions triggered by real contexts of racial hostility; to facilitate interventions with RASI affected by discrimination; and to enable data collection for advocacy purposes. Therefore, by using the PEI, helping professionals may be stimulated to engage in the scientist-practitioner-advocate model [36] and thus to provide better As can be observed, participants from the two categories vengeful" and "grudge" continued to behave in a similar manner. Moreover, those RASI who most identified with those two categories were the youngest (18-29 years), who also showed the strongest tendency for social isolation in the multi-scenario (8)(9)(10). ...
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... The continuum of openness is a context in which science and practice operate to the benefit or detriment of advocacy. We see "advocacy" as actions taken by I-O psychologists to benefit society and improve the lives of people at work (see Mallinckrodt et al., 2014). ...
... The focal articles seems to lose sight of the common goal of both the science and practice of I-O psychology, which is to serve as the basis for advocating for the betterment of work for all employees. The idea of a scientist-practitioner-advocate perspective is not new (see Fassinger & OPENNESS MAXIMIZES ADVOCACY 4 O'Brien, 2000;Lewin 1948Lewin /1997 but has been gaining traction as a model for thinking about the impacts that psychological science and practice can have on society (see Mallinckrodt et al., 2014;Miles & Fassinger, 2021). However, the idea of advocacy as a goal of the science and practice of I-O psychology is often ignored in the science-practice debates that characterize our field (e.g., Aguinis et al., 2020). ...
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The field of I-O psychology often paints distinctions between the competing goals of science and practice, but this is a false dichotomy. The focal article by Guzzo et al. (2022) relies on the convenience of this distinction to argue that openness has both positive and negative implications for the science and practice of I-O psychology. We counter this general sentiment by suggesting that science and practice are better understood along a continuum. Furthermore, we argue that the science and practice of I-O psychology have the same underlying goal: to inform advocacy. We consider “advocacy” to be the actions taken by I-O psychologists to improve the lives of people at work and to benefit society. As a counterpoint to the arguments presented in the focal article, we present a heuristic model to explain how optimal levels of openness facilitate maximal advocacy for I-O psychology science and practice.
... Steps toward advocacy could occur across both faculty and students and range from interpersonal dynamics to removing structural barriers at departmental and institutional levels. Indeed, an alternative approach to training (i.e., scientist-practitioner-advocate model) has already been implemented in select programs, with an emphasis on incorporating social justice advocacy in clinical practice and research (Mallinckrodt et al., 2014). A specific advocacy-based approach for the TGNB population has also been developed (Knutson et al., 2022). ...
... While the current study focused on clinical training, student and faculty research can inform clinical practice with LGBQ and TGNB populations. Additionally, advocacy within programs-such as the implementation of the scientist-practitioner-advocate model (Mallinckrodt et al., 2014) and providing health insurance coverage that includes gender-affirming medical procedures (Matsuno et al., 2020)can further decrease barriers to SGM-affirmative training. ...
... Relatedly, psychologists must develop skills in advocacy in order to address systemic inequities. Mallinckrodt et al. (2014) call for the inclusion of social justice advocacy within psychology graduate programs and describe the "scientist-practitioner-advocate" model. Advocacy can take many forms (e.g., disseminating research to policymakers, partnering with local community on how to improve access to mental health services), and trainees need models in graduate school in order to learn how to advocate effectively for those they serve. ...
... Although our focus in this article is on the Global Majority (i.e., Black, Indigenous, and People of Color [BIPOC] globally), the model is flexible enough to incorporate other vantage points (e.g., low-income communities, queer, critical disability, and intersectional perspectives). The proposed framework is informed by current training models, including general models such as the public psychology training model (Chu et al., 2012), the cube model of competency development (Rodolfa et al., 2005), and the relational model of supervision (Kennedy et al., 2018), as well as social-justice-oriented training models such as the QIAN model of cultural humility (Chang et al., 2012) and various critical psychology training models (Castañeda-Sound et al., 2020;Mallinckrodt et al., 2014;Toporek et al., 2009). The PPL training model differs from the aforementioned frameworks in a number of important ways. ...
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