Sunday, March 26, 2006

Who am I?

I am a psychologist, and I practice in central Pennsylvania. I've been doing this a lot of years, having interned in the 1970's. I've taught, I've worked in institutions and hospitals, and I've done private practice. Right now, I work in an outpatient clinic in a good-sized corporation.

I hope to use this blog to discuss clinical practice. I won't be discussing "cases," because I won't violate my clients' confidentiality. Instead, I'll be talking about the science of psychotherapy and the life of a practicing psychologist.

Is psychology a science? Absolutely. It's roots are firmly embedded in empiricism. However, the practice of clinical psychology is not a science. Neither is medicine.

No medical or clinical endeavor can be a science, because healing is not systematic. The practitioner must treat the problems that come in the door, regardless of whether the research is available or not. Often, treatment decisions are based on hunches or past experience, hardly systematic or empirical. The best we can do is make each client into a one-person experiment. Sometimes, even that's difficult. We do the best we can if we want to make a difference.

A difference? Sounds like the title to this blog. That brings me to why I selected Just Noticeable Differences for the title of this blog.

When I was a lowly undergraduate, one of the first psychological concepts I learned was the "just noticeable difference," or jnd. It comes from the psychology of perception and refers to the smallest change in a stimulus that can be perceived. For example, if I compare two lines, what is the smallest difference in their length that is perceptible?

The jnd is one of the first, if not the first, empirically based psychological concept. It's still important today, as we try to construct readable gauges and other displays that reflect change.

Change is what I try to elicit from my clients. I'd like to think that I get a few jnd's of change from most of my clients.

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