Running start … to a great career: Keeping up with the research
Psychologists’ tips for running an evidence-based practice.
In grad school, you’re required to know psychological research inside and out. Once you start practicing, however, keeping up with the latest literature may take a back seat to moving to a new area, building a practice, starting a family or tackling other long-delayed goals. “You have to be proactive about it,” says Leigh Ann Carter, PsyD, who launched a private practice in Media, Pennsylvania, this year.
Subscribing to a bunch of psychology journals isn’t enough, Carter adds. “Journals that get sent to me sit in my office for months, although I’ll eventually get to them,” she says. “But unless you make time for it, that never really happens.”
Use these tips to ensure that you’re maintaining an evidence-informed practice:
- Take advantage of research digests. The Society for the Advancement of Psychotherapy website and APA Div. 12: Society of Clinical Psychology blog offer a curated set of research findings. Another option for curated research findings it the Psychotherapy Practice Research Network (PPRNet) blog. “I typically review three of what I think are the best recent research studies,” says Giorgio Tasca, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Ottawa who writes the PPRNet blog. “The blog focuses on meta-analyses of psychotherapy research, and is written for clinicians, so it is stripped of research jargon and focuses on practical implications of the research,” Tasca says. State psychological associations may also have listservs with research updates. You can also find summaries of the latest research on psychological treatments and interventions in research roundup, available on the APA Services website and published every other month in the PracticeUpdate newsletter.
- Create or join a journal reading group. Virtual or face-to-face reading groups can help you overcome isolation — especially if you’re in private practice — and keep you plugged into the latest research. Typically, one participant chooses an article, everyone reads it and then the group comes together to discuss it, says Tasca, who has participated in several such study groups. A group can even bring in a speaker, such as the author of a study, to consult via Skype or Zoom, with any consulting fees split among participants.
- Seek training. Pursuing training in a specialty area can help you create a niche practice while giving you a great opportunity to dive more deeply into the research in an area you’re interested in, says Carter, who is considering a three-day seminar in prenatal and postnatal mental health.
- Get involved in training. Whether you become a supervisor or just give an occasional talk at your former training program, helping others learn will force you to stay on top of the literature, says Carter. And the learning goes both ways, she adds, noting that trainees who are just finishing their training can alert early-career practitioners to the latest trends.
- Make the most of continuing education. In addition to attending APA’s Annual Convention and looking at offerings from your state psychological association, you can find free and low-cost continuing education options that offer a cheaper alternative to pricey journal subscriptions, says Carter. She points to the offerings available through the National Register of Health Service Psychologists as just one option.