Bringing Theory to Life for Trainees in Professional Psychology: The Role of Setting, Assignments, and Supervision

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Repeated calls for theoretically grounded training in professional psychology have yet to be matched by research on pedagogy, leaving the field with little certainty about how to teach theory well. In this article, the authors describe theoretical fluency as a central goal of graduate training, and they argue that graduate training can help students achieve theoretical fluency through attention to 3 components: practicum setting, course assignments, and supportive supervision. They provide a case study of a training program that builds students’ fluency with bioecological theory through consultation placement at early childhood education centers. The authors analyze characteristics of early childhood settings that bring the theory to life and how supplemental assignments and supportive supervision strengthen learning of theory and promote its application to practice. Finally, they discuss how attention to theoretical fluency in training programs may help the field avoid the science–practice bifurcation that often occurs once students complete their training.

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