The idea of a “big tent” in psychology goes like this: what theory of psychology is sufficiently broad and inclusive so that it could embrace, support, shelter and nurture diverse techniques-methods under a single roof? A “big tent” is a big idea under which subordinate ideas can gather, identify common ground, find support and engage constructively.
In the 20th century, scores of competing models of the human psyche, each attempted to uncover strong therapeutic direction, what to do with this client in this circumstance. This intention was healing, even tho many times between models, “the words got in the way.”
Academic psych texts, God bless them, often compounded this problem by comparing and contrasting psychological models. This emphasized the individuality of each tree in psychology at the cost of a sense of direction and purpose of the whole forest. This is why Gerald Corey’s Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, latest edition, is so well-respected. He minimizes the conflict between facets of the field, emphasizing a synthetic and collaborative approach.
It’s September, 2014 now as I write this. After 45 minutes of search and reading, Mr. Google has convinced me while the topic of a “big tent” in psychology does indeed exist, the issue is no longer of much interest, addressed mostly in brief remarks to build consensus in opening talks at live, in-person, psychological conferences.
I agree, we do not want to return to the 1850s when primitive ideas about the human psyche, where humans fit compared to animals and how humans were or were not “spiritual” resulted in knock-down, drag-out fights and much heated debate. Looking back, that seems no more productive than many other unnecessary wars fought by men.
Mr. Google persuades me today the foundation on which a big tent for psychology can be erected—if it can be erected—has nothing to do with psychology per se. It has to do with science. In psychology we are, it seems, arguing with very different assumptions about science and physics; let alone, metaphysics.
Mr. Google suggests where most thinkers on big tents in psychology get stuck is in defining science. They want to define science. They want one science, with these principles, these values and their definition. They want a one-pointed science as their big tent in science. Then they attempt to shoe-horn the human psyche into this mental definition of “science.” Continue reading