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N. 1 (2022)

Comments on “Compartmentalization and unity of professional psychology. A road map for the future of the discipline”, by Salvatore and colleagues

29 July 2022


My response to this road map has three aspects. First, I agree that the  various fields of psychology do not share a consensus about basic principles, but I remain skeptical whether they could ever be linked by a unified theoretical framework. Any new set of governing concepts would immediately become a contested topic, increasing the already precarious reputation of the field. My more important reaction, however, focuses on the varied practices and theories of clinical psychology. Clearly, the use of diverse empirical methods by many clinical disciplines does not support the unification thesis of the road map, but rather illustrates their fragmentation. Yet, I find myself in accord with the authors that the absence of a theory with well-defined basic concepts condemns clinical psychology to a patchwork of forms of treatment with disparate goals and purposes. Without a theory, practitioners have no place to organize their observations, choose possible interventions, or even design meaningful research. The example of psychoanalysis in the paper demonstrates the inadequacy of adopting metapsychological terms for this effort. Some psychoanalytic concepts may belong to subcategories of a unifying theory to come (not an organized model). What we may need most now are conversations about this issue among clinicians. Whether this process might lead to identification of shared factors for the vast domain of professional psychology remains to be seen.


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