Reconsideration of the role of theory in psychosocial intervention

  • Hughes J
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Abstract

This response article points out areas of agreement and disagreement among the target article and commentaries comprising this special issue. Whereas all authors acknowledge the value of theory for psychosocial intervention with children and families, they approach theory from different epistemologies. I argue that a utilitarian action-oriented approach to theory in which theories are local and particular statements that attempt to explain observed phenomena has replaced the traditional view of theory as "truth." Similarly, intervention researchers are less likely to ascribe to "name brand" theoretical orientations and more likely to hypothesize specific causal constructs that are then targeted in interventions. These constructs are retained, revised, or discarded based on their demonstrated utility in organizing facts, explaining change, and solving particular problems. Implications of this utilitarian epistemology for intervention research and practice in school/clinical child psychology are suggested. Finally, I argue that a critical community of researchers and practitioners operating from diverse theoretical orientations and empirical bases is essential to the vitality of our discipline. © 2000 Society for the Study of School Psychology. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Empirically supported treatments
  • Empiricism
  • Psychosocial intervention
  • Science
  • Theory

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Authors

  • Jan N. Hughes

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