One of the underlying concepts of Psychology that shapes the way in which Psychologists are regulated and governed within Australia is that of the Scientist-Practitioner approach to practice.
The Scientist-Practitioner Model seeks to bridge two previously separate roles within Psychology, that of the researcher and clinician. From the first baby steps taken in your undergraduate studies, through to your professional development requirements, Psychologists in Australia are tasked with maintaining the analytical mind of the scientist alongside their interpersonal counseling skills.
For some this presents as a more clinical (excuse the pun) appraisal of therapeutic alternatives and a deeper understanding of how to interpret results for themselves. Placing them closer to the practitioner side of the equation. For others, there is a desire to add to the understanding and knowledge that drives the field of psychology while maintaining a person (client) centered approach, tending to align closer to the scientist within this model.
What I have observed is a growing number of Psychologists that are actively engaged with both sides of the model. Their work within clinics and institutions directly with the clients helps inform and ground their research. Their research helps to direct and shape their approaches to interventions – helping ensure the client is receiving the best care possible at that moment in time.
While this path does indeed result in additional work it does appear to be the most rewarding. Being able to step into a variety of roles and keep my mind active and engaged as I age looks like an exciting way forward. And while the path ahead may be a little longer, and involve a whole lot of detours and twists and turns, there will be a lot of opportunity to explore – both the world and my own self.