Nina Schwarzbach

Towards a Unified Field of Clinical Psychology – Academia’s Contribution to the
Scientist-Practitioner Gap

Department of Clinical & Developmental
Neuropsychology; Department of Educational Sciences, University of Groningen,

Supervisors: Prof. Marieke Pijnenborg, dr. Rink Hoekstra


I started studying a Bachelor’s programme in psychology at the University of Groningen in
2014. While I specialized in clinical psychology, my thesis was about culture and
environmentally friendly behavior, and more specifically how guilt and law obedience might
influence recycling across countries. Afterwards I followed a Master’s programme in clinical
psychology and my thesis was a meta-analysis on a controversial memory task. I then started
a research master in behavioral and social sciences and specialized on psychometrics &
statistics, but also used qualitative methodology. My thesis was about investigating
researcher’s motivations for using open science methods.

Summary PhD Project

The scientist-practitioner gap describes the discrepancy between research and
practice in clinical psychology, which comes at the expense of many people in need of mental
health care. Due to differences in the focus between research designs and psychological
interventions, research outcomes might not be representative of clinical practice, and
recommendations based on research thus might not be applicable and implementable. In
clinical research, the outcomes and following clinical recommendations are greatly
dependent on the individual researcher’s choices. We aim to identify those individual
decisions and shed light on the decision process. By doing this, we hope to make the
outcomes and recommendations based on clinical trials more suitable to clinical practice,
and develop guidelines for methodology and analysis in order to fit the methodology more
to the practical aims.