Journal article

Generating and generalizing knowledge about psychotherapy from pragmatic case studies

Pragmatic Case Studies in Psychotherapy, vol. 3, issue 1 (2006) pp. 35-54

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An epistemological case is made for how single subject psychotherapy research provides unique and untapped opportunities for generating and generalizing scientific knowledge about psychotherapy. The epistemological claim asserts that it is essential that problem and method be aligned in psychotherapy research. Examples of misalignment in experimental and correlational contexts are given and their consequences discussed. Both Molenaar and Valsiner’s (2005) genetic metaphor of phenotypes and genotypes and Lewin’s (1931) concept of Aristotelian and Galileian thinking provides further epistemological grounds for the value of single subject research. Several suggestions are made for how to reconcile the epistemological problems discussed. Finally, examples are given of how a database generated by the PCSP journal process might serve as a tool to generate and generalize psychotherapy knowledge.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Aristotelian versus Galilean thinking
  • case formulation
  • case studies
  • epistemology
  • single-subject versus group psychotherapy research

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  • Tracy D Eells

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