Work, work values and religious values : how Christian clinical psychologists experience the connections

Baker, Martyn Carey

Psychology; Philosophy; Religion
March 1999

Thesis or dissertation

© 1999 Martyn Carey Baker. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

The job of the clinical psychologist has been described as that of the 'scientist-practitioner', giving the impression that, in broad terms, it involves the practical application of psychological knowledge in a clinical setting. This study commences by critically examining the values of the 'science' and of the 'practice' involved, and reviewing the available literature on the religious values of clinical psychologists, prior to reporting an empirical investigation of the connections drawn by a group of Christian clinical psychologists working within the UK National Health Service, between their work, their professional values, and their religious commitment.The data on these values connections were gathered in an oblique rather than a direct fashion: the fourteen psychologists who participated, completed a repertory grid which measured their construing of situations at work in which they were highly conscious of their religious commitment. In a semi-stuctured interview, they spoke freely and personally about their understanding of the particular groupings of 'constructs' and 'elements' identified statistically by factoring the grid ratings.Five main themes emerged from a grounded theory qualitative analysis of the interview transcripts. These described workplace issues of enhanced performance and spiritual support; religious disclosure to colleagues, and to clients; value clash; value congruence; and the sense of broader involvement as psychologists who were also members of the Christian community. My overall understanding of what participants said about their grid results, was that these issues might most appropriately be interpreted as dimensions, on which they found themselves occupying variable rather than 'set' positions. Based upon this, I propose a tentative model of the connections between their religious and their work values, as the experience within the workplace, of perpetually shifting positions on the various dimensions identified by the analysis.Consideration is given to the shortcomings and to the implications of the study, and to reflections upon my own involvement as researcher. It is concluded that the status of the results reported, may best be as stimulus for the many lines of further investigation to which they could give rise.

Department of Psychology, The University of Hull
Wang, Michael
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