EXPLORING NEW PSYCHOLOGY THEORIES
Exploring new psychology theories is important for several reasons that primarily focus on you and your clients. From a therapist’s point of view, understanding new theories can help develop your professional skills to ensure you are providing your clients with the most suitable help for their circumstances.
From a client’s perspective, new information about psychology reaches more people than just therapists now with the ubiquitous nature of sharing content online. Having a therapist who remains informed of new ideas in the domain of psychology can help your clients know their therapist is kept updated on providing the best available help to them.
Exploring new psychology theories can lead to a better understanding of human behavior and mental processes. They can provide new insights into topics such as motivation, emotion, cognition, and personality.
Understanding new theories can also provide an adjunct understanding of current societal issues, such as mental health problems, social inequality, and cultural differences. Societal issues are always changing and our knowledge as therapists should consider those changes to be able to effectively help our clients.
Learning new psychology theories can challenge existing assumptions and theories we hold which can lead to a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of human behavior and how this behaviour adapts over time.
Exploring new psychology theories can be intellectually stimulating and rewarding on an individual level as it can help us stay engaged in the progress of our careers. It can help spark curiosity and encourage us to engage in lifelong learning and personal growth.
Studying a new psychology theory can be a challenging task, but with the right approach, you can learn and understand it effectively. Here are some tips to help you study a new psychology theory:
- START WITH THE BASICS: Begin by familiarizing yourself with the basic concepts and terms related to the theory. This will help you build a foundation and make it easier to understand the more complex ideas.
- READ PRIMARY SOURCES: Read the original writings of the theory’s founder or proponents. This will give you a better understanding of the theory’s core principles and assumptions.
- TAKE NOTES: As you read, take notes on key concepts, definitions, and examples. This will help you remember important information and make connections between different ideas.
- APPLY THE THEORY: Apply the theory to real-world situations or case studies. This will help you see how the theory can be used in practice and deepen your understanding of its applications.
- BE PATIENT: Learning a new theory takes time, so be patient and don’t get discouraged. Stay committed to your studies and take breaks when needed to avoid burnout.
UNDERSTAND THE BASICS
Learning any new content can seem overwhelming at first, however, as noted previously there many steps you can undertake to provide an easy pathway for learning new ideas. The first step is to start with the basics. There is where you become familiar with the basic concepts that form the theory and begin to build a foundation of knowledge that you can build upon to learn more complex parts of the theory.
Below are some tips to begin understanding the basics of any new topic that you wish to learn more about:
- PRIMARY SOURCES: Start by reading the original sources of the theory, such as the book or articles written by the theory’s founder or proponents. This will give you a better understanding of the theory’s core principles and assumptions.
- KEY CONCEPTS: Identify the key concepts and terms related to the theory. This will help you build a foundation and make it easier to understand the more complex ideas.
- DEFINE TERMS: Define the terms you have identified using a reliable source, such as a textbook or reputable online resource. This will help you avoid misunderstandings and confusion.
- EXPLORE EXAMPLES: Look for examples of how the theory is applied in practice. This will help you see how the theory can be used to explain real-world phenomena and situations.
- COMPARE AND CONTRAST: Compare and contrast the theory with other theories you have studied. This will help you understand the theory’s unique features and how it differs from other theories.
By following these steps, you can gain a solid understanding of the basics of a psychology theory, which can then serve as a foundation for deeper exploration and learning.
One important caveat to remember when learning the basics of a theory, is that many of us prefer different learning techniques. Some people might learn more through reading. Others may prefer learning through audio or visual sources. Be aware of your preferred learning style so that you can maximize the success of absorbing any new ideas.
FIND YOUR SOURCES
For more information about finding research sources, be sure to check out our previous blog post: How To Keep Up To Date On Art Therapy Research
Below is a list of general psychology and science journals. Click on each name to visit the website of each journal/s. These websites also provide the ability to create alerts on your preferred topics.
- British Psychological Society Research Digest
- Sage Publishing
- Science Direct
- Taylor Francis Online
Research articles can often be taxing to read as the articles involve psychological and statistical terminology. I read the abstract and then decide if I want to explore the article further. I am mindful that my time is limited and that affects my decision on whether to use only abstracts as a brief update or a complete article.
Many of the research articles online belong to publishers who charge for access to the article. Some publishers offer the articles for free. For those who charge, I read what I can from the abstract information and google for any further information. I also use my university login (as alumni) to access scientific databases. My university offers Alumni access to databases at no charge.
It is important to constantly curate your alert list to ensure that you are not overwhelmed with alerts. I once subscribed to a psychology website that published about 30 articles every day. Every time I logged on to my Feedly account, I was overwhelmed at the number of articles to review. If I skipped a few days, the number would be compound and before I knew it, I had 300 unread articles which I had no chance of ever reviewing. I decided to unsubscribe and be more selective about the alerts I signed up to.
To find sources for a psychology theory, you can follow these steps:
- TEXTBOOK: Check your psychology textbook for information on the theory you want to study. Textbooks often provide an overview of major theories in the field, including their history, key concepts, and criticisms.
- LITERATURE SEARCH: Search online databases such as PsycINFO, PubMed, and Google Scholar to find research articles and book chapters related to the theory. Use keywords related to the theory’s name, founder, key concepts, and applications.
- REFERENCE LISTS: Once you have found relevant articles or books, check their reference lists for other sources related to the theory. This can help you find additional resources that you may have missed in your initial search.
- PRIMARY SOURCES: Try to find the original writings of the theory’s founder or proponents. These primary sources can provide a more in-depth understanding of the theory’s core principles and assumptions.
- REPUTABLE SOURCES: Ensure that you use reputable sources, such as peer-reviewed journals, academic books, and government reports. Avoid relying on blogs, opinion pieces, or popular media sources, which may not be based on scientific evidence.
As a previous student, you may remember the constant reminders to not use social media and Wikipedia for your educational content. This is sound advice especially when you are looking for authentic information. However, you can use these resources as a starting basis for building the foundation of your knowledge. Content on social media sources is often distilled down to the basic facts using a variety of learning methods including visual and auditory sources.
Furthermore, many publishing companies, educational institutions, and experts in the field hold social media accounts that they use to provide educational content about a topic. These can be useful tools as you begin to learn information about new topics and concepts.
APPLY THE THEORY
You may want to learn about an area within psychology for many reasons including incorporating new knowledge into client treatment, professional development, or for general interest.
Regardless of the reason, it’s useful to understand how this new knowledge can be applied in practice. This provides an extra dimension of learning when you can understand the full process of using the knowledge for clinical application.
To apply a psychology theory, you may want to consider the following steps:
- Identify a specific problem or situation that you want to apply the theory to. This can be a real-world issue or a hypothetical scenario.
Make sure you have a solid understanding of the theory you want to apply. This includes understanding its key concepts, assumptions, and principles.
- Use the theory to analyze the problem or situation. This involves identifying relevant variables, relationships, and possible explanations.
Based on the analysis, develop an intervention that is informed by the theory. This could be a treatment approach, an educational program, or a change in policy or practice.
- Implement the intervention and monitor its effectiveness. Collect data and feedback to evaluate whether the intervention is achieving its goals. (APPLIES TO USING THE THEORY IN PRACTICE)
- Based on the evaluation, revise and refine the intervention as necessary. This may involve adjusting the approach, modifying the goals, or addressing unanticipated challenges.
- Communicate the results of the intervention to relevant stakeholders, such as clients, colleagues, or policy-makers. This can help demonstrate the value of the theory and its applications.
By following these steps, you can apply a psychology theory in a systematic and evidence-based manner. This can help address real-world problems and contribute to the development of effective interventions and practices.
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