Describing how to apply theory for AP interviews

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Describing how to apply theory for AP interviews

Postby TalkingClover » Sun Oct 06, 2013 5:37 pm

I'm not sure if I'm the only one but wanted to put this out there and see the response.

I recently had an AP post to assist a CP working with homeless / immigrant populations experiencing trauma and mental distress. I was asked to describe my understanding of things like the theoretical underpinnings, i.e. how applied psychology fits in with this post and I just blanked. I suddenly realised that after all those essays I'm stumped when basically asked '' how does theory guide our practice?''

Has any one got any advance about how to structure / frame / put these answers in context? I rambled with learning theory, behaviourism, cognitive processes, it didnt come across convincing and I'm hoping to see what others think.


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Re: Describing how to apply theory for AP interviews

Postby katz » Sun Oct 06, 2013 6:07 pm

I'm not sure whether you are looking for suggestions in this particular case or a more general response but...

Generally when considering relevant theory I broadly follow this general thought process which runs from specific to general:

---What specifically are you trying to understand- this is literally saying what you see. e.g. Since being involved in a car accident when xyz occured, Mr A avoids doing ......, he experiences/ feels..... the impact of this is..... (you can elaborate a lot more on this!).
---How does this specific issue sit more broadly. i.e. social circumstances, cultural influences, age, life stage; wider systemic factors etc.
---What clinical theories/ models may be relevant here (think formulation of the problem). E.g. if we are thinking trauma then we may think about Ehlers and clarks model or broader CBT models. Do some research if you are not sure how the problem has been understood in the literature.
---From here think about broader psychological theory (go back to your text books) e.g.information processing, memory formation, social learning, developmental theory, evolutionary theory.... you get the picture.

This is just the general thought process I go through and I am sure everyone will find their own way of working through a problem. I hope that helps.
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Re: Describing how to apply theory for AP interviews

Postby maven » Mon Oct 07, 2013 2:22 am

I'd wonder:

- what do psychologists know about this issue? (referring to research, case studies, etc)
- what can psychologists do to help this issue? (referring to treatment protocols and evidence for outcomes)
- what other factors might be relevant? (eg barriers to accessing the service, differences between real world and research populations, limitations to evidence base)
- how would I begin to assess and formulate this particular example? (eg predisposing factors, triggers, maintaining cycles, risk/resilience factors, systemic influences, etc)

Wise men talk because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something - Plato
The fool thinks himself to be wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool - Shakespeare
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Re: Describing how to apply theory for AP interviews

Postby hannah0120 » Mon Apr 17, 2017 8:05 pm

I am just resurfacing this thread as I wanted to ask a couple of questions and check my understanding....

Every time I think about the "applying psychological theory to practice" question, I seem to get really bogged down in the wording of this question.

For example, in preparation for a training course interview, I have been thinking about some examples to link theory to practice. Most of my thoughts have linked in with the sorts of questions maven suggested.

I have experience in helping to develop a stop smoking intervention for clients within a substance misuse service.
- what I know from the literature is that people who use drugs and/or alcohol are much more likely to smoke than the general population. Smoking is associated with poverty, poorer mental and physical health outcomes and increased risk of communicable diseases. People who use substances often need extra support to give up smoking, although are no less motivated to do so than people who don't use drugs or alcohol. I also know that people who misuse substances often die from smoking-related deaths, and smoking is a cause of premature death for this group. To me this outlines a rationale for why smoking cessation interventions are important for both the general population, and for a substance-using population who may not access traditional services.
- research suggests that smoking cessation interventions are effective for people who use substances. There are various RCTs, meta-analyses and systematic literature reviews which suggest that various interventios are effective including contingency management, coping skills training, relapse prevention work, and nicotine replacement therapy. NICE guidance suggests that all substance misuse services should offer smoking cessation as standard (although this rarely happens in practice).

- other relevant factors include that many people using substances may not access traditional stop smoking services and instead prefer to come to one place for their substance misuse and smoking treatment. Barriers to treatment include the perception that quitting smoking may harm recovery from other drugs or alchol, or cause them to relapse. This view is actually inconsistent with the literature which suggests that quitting smoking can help people to stay abstinent from other substances, and that cues for smoking and drug use are often very similar. Staff attitudes towards smoking can influence whether they talk about smoking cessation to service users, with staff smokers being much less likely to talk about quitting smoking. Many staff in substance misuse services do smoke (much more so than the general population) and so there is a shift in culture and knwoledge needed here. Most research has been conducted using the general population rather than people in substance misuse treatment. People who are in treatment for drug use are more likely to be heavier smokers and have smoked for longer which suggests that a different approach (such as harm reduction) might be needed.

- in terms of applying this knowledge to practice, a stop smoking group intervention was developed based on NICE guidance and guidance from the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training - both of which are based on evidence. The group contained a number of cognitive and behavioural strategies to behavior change, as well as education about smoking cessation, and myth-busting in terms of how stopping smoking may impact on substance misuse. Another key factor was recognising that many of the strategies used to stop smoking (recognising triggers, managing cravings, managing withdrawal, recognising and learning to manage high risk situation, behaviour monitoring etc) are also used to help reduce or stop substance use.

Just to stop there - the thing I get bogged down with is feeling like this isn't really applying theory to practice. I feel like to answer a question I need to talk about more general theory behind smoking and why people might smoke - or is the above example enough? I feel like I haven't really mentioned theory but I don't know if 'theory' applies to more general models, evidence from the literature etc?

Potentially I could go further and discuss how behavioural theories and cogntivie theories inform how smoking may start and be maintained but is this a step too far?

Can anyone clear this up for me? Thank you!
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