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Ordine degli Psicologi della Lombardia Ordine degli Psicologi del Veneto. Social and Professional Identity of Psychologists and Psychology. Qualitative Research – Main Results Milan and Padua, Italy, January-June 2011. Objectives and methodology. main objectives.

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social and professional identity of psychologists and psychology

Ordine degli Psicologi della Lombardia

Ordine degli Psicologi del Veneto

Social and Professional Identity of Psychologists and Psychology

Qualitative Research – Main Results

Milan and Padua, Italy, January-June 2011

main objectives
main objectives
  • Probing the experience and social image of psychologists and psychology in citizens, psychology graduates(not enrolled in the Psychologists’ Register), other practitioners and licensed psychologists with reference to the following main areas:
    • status, role, expertise and skills attributed to psychologists
    • awareness of psychologists’ working fields
    • perceived value of psychologists compared to other helping professions and new professions (coach, counselor…)
  • Expectations towards psychologists and psychology
methodology and sample
Methodology and sample
  • A qualitative psychologicalresearch
  • 10 focus groups in Milan and Padua
  • Sample 1:non psychologists
    • 2 focus groupswithcitizens
    • 1 focus groupwithotherpractitioners
    • 1 focus groupwithpsychologygraduates
  • Sample 2:psychologists
    • 6 focus groupswithpsychologists and psychotherapists, differentages, workingfields, specialties
professional psychology in italy
professional psychology in italy
  • Licensedpsychologists in Italy are onlypsychologygraduateswho, after a State QualificationExam, are admittedtothe Psychologists’ Register
    • the title “psychologist” isnotallowedfor people who are notenrolled in the Public Register
  • Psychotherapyis a postgraduatespecialtyallowedonlytopsychologists or medicaldoctorsenrolled in the Psychologists’ or MedicalRegisters
  • Psychologists’ profileislegally and formally the sameasthatof a practitioner (medical, legal) ratherthanof a professionallato sensu
    • the researchalsoexploredsemanticareasconnectedwith professionalism in the Italian system, hereomittedaswellaspartsconcerning the awareness and experienceofRegister
moral traits are ovverrepresented in psycologists compared to other professionals
Moral traits are ovverrepresented in psycologists compared to other professionals
  • Respondents (esp. non psychologists) outlinedhigh-profileprofessionalsascharacterizedby some mainfeatures
      • highereducation
      • specialty, expertise
      • empowerment
      • moraltraits (seriousness, reliabity, impartiality)
      • social preminence
  • Psychologists do notcompletelyfitthisprofile, especiallyconcerning social preminence
    • butmoraltraits are overrepresented
the psychologist s profile reflects the indefiniteness of the object of the discipline
  • The psychologist’s profileisoftenoutlinedbycitizensas the reverse of social and personal preminence – typicalof high status professionals - and reflects some indefiniteness
    • versatile
    • unassuming, modest, non intrusive
    • supportive, aninstrument more thananauthor
    • passive-receptive
    • unselfish, regardlessof material assets
  • He is concernedwithintangibleobjects and problems
    • has a borderline identity
    • in clinicalpracticehe placeshimselfbetweenhealth and illness
and may give rise to ambivalent attitudes towards psychologists
  • Some ambivalencecomes up amongcitizens due to the perceptionof a borderline status and indefinite object, especially in clinicalpractice
    • a psychologistdoesgood and does no harm
      • butmay do nothing at allaswell: a placebo effect, ifnot a noceboone
    • youneverknowwhenyouhaveto go to the psychologist, norhow long the treatment will go on
      • due to the psychoanalyticimagery
    • expectationstowardsmoralityconcealdeepfearsofoppositefeatures: youmayruninto a cheater
    • itis a wasteofmoney, a way ofavoidingone’s responsibilities
  • Psychologists’self-representation vs otherprofessionsmeetswith the profileoutlinedbycitizens
    • distinguishingfeaturesemphasized are personal attitudessuchas
      • strong relationalskills
      • empathy
      • abilitytolisten
    • and moraltraitsasimpartiality, unselfishness, tendingtophilanthropy
  • Howpsychologists work seemstobe more relevantthanwhatthey do in ordertodistinguishtheirprofessional status
the strongly connoted profile of the psychotherapist often overlaps that of the psychologist
The stronglyconnotedprofileofthepsychotherapistoftenoverlapsthatof the psychologist
  • Citizens and otherprofessionalsoftenhave a low awarenessof the specificuniversity background and studies
    • especiallywhenpsychologistisimproperlycomparedtopsychiatrist or psychotherapist (universitydegree and specialty)
  • The strongerconnotationsofthe psychotherapistoftenoverlapthoseof the psychologist, makingithardertodistinguishbetweenpsychologist and psychotherapist
    • the samedifficultyissharedbypsychologists, whotendtoconsiderpsychologistsaslacking in professional expertise
      • on the assumptionthatuniversityprovides a theoretical and abstractknowledge, whileexperience and skillsneed a postgraduatespecialization
the top of mind expertise healing without drugs
the top of mind expertise: healing without drugs
  • Freudian “talking cure” is still the foremost paradigm (both for citizens and psychologists)
    • a healer not of the body (medical doctor) but of the mind
      • not of illness (psychiatry) but of malaise
  • The unique competence of psychologists compared to other professions are
    • method = listening
    • tool = word
  • The similarity is taken from medicine (omeopathy)
There is large awareness about psychodiagnostic competence consisting in knowing how to administer tests
  • It is doubtful wether psychologists have a diagnostic competence
    • even if law attributes this competence to psychologists, the uncertainty comes up also among psychologists
    • due to the intermediate status of psychologist (between disease and mental illness)
  • Although, psychologists’ competence in psychodiagnostic tests is universally recognized
    • it has the features of a “know how”
      • psychologists’ unique competence is not only to know tests but especially to know how to administer them
        • psychodiagnostic competence concerns the process rather than the outcome
the psychologist s identity strong points
  • Flexibility, creativity, innovation
  • Understanding and problem solving
  • Versatility, attitude to apply to many fields and contexts
  • Original vision
  • Borderline status allows exchange with other professions and a community-oriented attitude
the psychologist s identity weak points
  • Opacity
  • Somethinglessthan a medicaldoctor
  • Cannotcommunicatehis results and efficacy
an enlightening and or light discipline
an enlightening and/or light discipline
  • Evocationsof light and energy (minority, esp. citizens):
    • understanding, scientificimagination, progress
      • fromdarknessto light
    • Defeatinginstincts, breakingchains
    • freedom, openmindness, desire, dynamism
  • Evocationsofwellness, comfort, conventionalrepresentationsassociatedwithwell-being
    • private sphere, individualresearchofpeaceof mind
    • sometimes New Ageatmosphere and values(esp. psychologists)
a new discipline ad an innovative profession
A new discipline ad an innovative profession
  • A sortof a “forwardlooking”and innovation-oriented soul ofpsychologycomes out the profileofusers and socioculturalcontextswherepsychologyisthoughttohave a social preminence
    • open-mindedindividuals
    • progressive and advancedcountries (e.g. Sweden, U.S.A.)
  • Sometimeswithanundertoneofblame or uncertaintyabout the realvalue
    • more fashion thanfunction, doesnotmeet “real” needs
the awareness and reputation of psychology is context based
The awareness and reputation of psychology is context-based
  • Awarenessofpsychologygrowswhen thepsychologistisseen in contexts
    • amongcitizens: mostlyschools and workingplaces (educational, occupational)
    • amongpsychologists : a wide rangeofapplications and fields, wherepsychologyisspecifiedbyanadjective (e.g. clinical, forensic…) or a noun (e.g. emergencies)
  • The awareness and reputationofpsychology, as a professionalpracticedifferentfrompsychotherapyisessentiallycontext-based
    • psychologyitself and especially the psychologistas a professional are poorlycharacterized
    • psychologists (significantly) evenomittorefertothemselvesas “scientists”
      • psychologycomes out as a “soft science” , mostlyrecognized in itsapplicationsto multiple fields
citizens a socially advantageous profession
Citizens: a socially advantageous profession
  • A considerableamountof people’s expectations are focused on the supportiveroleofpsychologiststowardsinstitutions, especiallywhenauthoritarianroles are involved (school, police…)
  • Psychologistsshould help copingwithstress (e.g. Job-related) and malaise in civilization in anycontext
  • Theyshouldalsobesupportivetowardsotherhelpingprofessions
  • A strictcontrol on ethicalconductofpsychologistsisstronglyrequired
psychologists promoting and communicating unique skills and building professional networks
Psychologists: promoting and communicating unique skills and building professional networks
  • Psychologists’ expectations are mostly focus on:
    • fighting helping professions like counselors and coaches, when performed by non psychologists
    • communicating and promoting the profession of psychologists
    • building professional networks