Saturday, February 21, 2009

Carmen and Christine Leave

Entry for 6 February 2009 (I wrote this entry a couple of weeks ago, but am only now getting around to posting it):

Another busy week, following a flurry of activity as my two sabbatical guests concluded their visits last weekend and the end of Celtic Connections.

Carmen Mateu, an intense, energetic Spanish woman from the University of Valencia, had been here, with a bit of a break in the middle, since September. Her sabbatical project was developing an empathy training module for psychology students in her CBT-oriented department. (Carmen herself is trained in Gestalt therapy and is committed to Emotion-Focused therapy, having done two previous sabbatical visits with Les Greenberg.) She spent much of her time with us, visiting our various counselling courses, interacting with tutors and students, learning about how we do empathy training. It was very interesting to be able to see our courses through her eyes, as she marvelled at the depth and intensity of the training we do and in particular the attention we pay to personal development and supervision. She and I worked on developing a research program for her carry out on her return to Spain, including both measure translation/development (including Strathclyde Inventory and Therapeutic Relationship Scale) and testing the empathy training module she’s been developing. Over her 5 months with us, we had many stimulating and entertaining discussions. It’s been quieter this week, but I miss her energy and passion.

The second visitor was Christine Fox, a former colleague from the University of Toledo and an expert on Rasch analysis, an advanced psychometric method. Several years ago, while I was still at Toledo, Christine and I had been partners in crime in our largely successful attempts to subvert my clinical psychology grad students and colleagues’ traditional ways of doing and thinking about psychological measurement, culminating in our 2006 Psychological Assessment paper on the SCL90R. Christine came here to carry forward a continuation of that research using some data collected by colleagues in Aberdeen, as well as to provide input on our measure development research at Strathclyde. It was good to get to know Christine better, and we found her to be intense, direct and outspoken in her own way; during the two weeks she stayed with us, we continually entertained by her charmingly idiosyncratic perspective on life. And she and I got some very interesting science done: Among other things, we found evidence pointing to the possibility that the SCL90R might do almost as well using a 2-point absent-present (0 vs. all other ratings) scale, vs. its current 5-point scale. This tickled my love of irony, as it suggests to me that the title, “Symptom Checklist 90-R” might not be a misnomer after all, because using it with 2-point rating scale really would make it a checklist rather than a traditional self-report inventory with a typical 5-point rating scale.

At any rate, by Sunday, both Carmen and Christine had left, leaving us feeling a bit empty and in recovery mode from the intensity of it all, but at the same time enriched by the intersection of their lives with ours.

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