Professional Closure: An Example from American Clinical Psychology

  • Matthew Merced
Keywords: closure, clinical psychology, professional psychology, practitioner-scholar, doctor of psychology


Objective: Study the American clinical psychology landscape to discern scientist-practitioner and practitioner-scholar involvement in professional activities, specifically the organizational and scholarly domains.

Methods: Data were gathered from online sources regarding: professional association membership, leadership, and award recipients; faculty positions within psychology doctoral programs; journal editor positions; and contributions to the scholarly literature.

Results: Scientist-practitioners dominate American clinical psychology’s principal professional association’s membership (73.5%) and leadership (93.2%) and receive nearly all its awards (98.2%).  Faculties for both practitioner-scholar programs (76.2%) and scientist-practitioner programs (99.1%) were dominated by scientist-practitioners.  The editor of each journal surveyed was a scientist-practitioner.  Most literature contributions (77.3%) were from scientist-practitioners.

Conclusions: Scientist-practitioners in the United States can access organizational and scholarly roles/activities.  Practitioner-scholars do not have the same access.  Scientist-practitioners use implicit, normalized practices known as ‘closure methods’ to preserve their access to professional opportunities, resources, and rewards.  Practitioner-scholars, subject to ‘professional closure’, compose an excluded group.


Acker, J. (2006) ‘Inequality Regimes: Gender, Class and Race in Organizations’. Gender & Society, 20, 441–64

American Psychological Association. (2013). Guidelines and Principles for the Accreditation of Programs in Professional Psychology. Washington, DC: Author.

American Psychological Association. (2016a). ‘Accredited Programs in Clinical Psychology’.

(Accessed 4 November 2016).

American Psychological Association (2016b). ‘APA Member Profiles’.

(Accessed 4 November 2016).

American Psychological Association (2016c). ‘Governance’. (Accessed 4

November 2016).

American Psychological Association. (2016d). ‘Grants, Awards, and Funding’. (Accessed 4 November 2016).

American Psychological Association. (2016e). ‘Practice Organization Governance’. (Accessed 4

November 2016).

Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards. (2016). 2016 Psychology Licensing Exam Scores by Program. Peachtree, GA: Author.

Boyer, E. L. (1990). Scholarship Revisited: Priorities of the Professoriate. Princeton, NJ: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Chrobot-Mason, D., & Aramovich, N. P. (2013). ‘The Psychological Benefits of Creating an Affirming Climate for Workplace Diversity’. Group & Organization Management, 38, 659-689.

Clark, R. A., Harden, S. I., & Johnson, W. B. (2000). ‘Mentor Relationships in Clinical Psychology Doctoral Training: Results of a National Survey’. Teaching of Psychology, 27, 262-268.

Dasgupta, N., & Asgari, S. (2004). ‘Seeing is Believing: Exposure to Counter Stereotypic Women Leaders and its Effect on the Malleability of Automatic Gender Stereotyping’. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 40, 642-658.

Elman, N. S., Illfelder-Kaye, J., & Robiner, W. N. (2005). ‘Professional Development: Training for Professionalism as a Foundation for Competent Practice in Psychology’. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 36, 367–375.

Fagenson, E. A. (1989). ‘The Mentor Advantage: Perceived Career/Job Experiences of Protégés versus nonprotégés’. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 10, 309-320.

Forehand, R. L. (2008). ‘The Art and Science of Mentoring in Psychology: A Necessary Practice to Ensure our Future’. American Psychologist, 63, 744–755.

Halpern, D. E., Smothergill, D. W., Allen, M., Baker, S., Baum, C., Best, D., . . . Weaver, K. A. (1998). ‘Scholarship in Psychology: A Paradigm for the Twenty-First Century’. American Psychologist, 53, 1292–1297.

Haynes, S. N., Lemsky, C., & Sexton-Radek, K. (1987). ‘Why Clinicians Infrequently Do Research’. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 18, 515-519.

Hoshmand, L. T., & Polkinghorne, D. E. (1992). ‘Redefining the Science-Practice Relationship and Professional Training’. American Psychologist, 47, 55-66.

Korman, M. (Ed.). (1976). Levels and Patterns of Professional Training in Psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Kram, K. E. (1985). Mentoring at Work: Developmental Relationships in Organizational Life. Glenview, IL: Scott Foresman.

Larkin, G. (1983). Occupational Monopoly and Modern Medicine. London: Tavistock.

Mader, E. M., Rodriguez, J. E., Campbell, K. M., Smilnak, T., bazemore, A. W., Petterson, S., & Morley, C. P. (2016). ‘Status of Underrepresented Minority and Female Faculty at Medical Schools Located within Historically Black Colleges and in Puerto Rico’. Medical Education Online, 21. (Accessed 25 February 2017)

Mangione, L., Borden, K. A., Nadkarni, L., Evarts, K., & Hyde, K. (2018). ‘Mentoring in Clinical Psychology Programs: Broadening and Deepening’. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 12, 4-13.

Mann, S. T., & Merced, M. (2018). ‘Preparing for Entry-Level Practice in Supervision’. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 49, 98-106.

Merced, M., Stutman, Z. E., & Mann, S. T. (2015). ‘A Developmental Lag in the Evolution of Doctor of Psychology Programs’. Training and Education in

Professional Psychology,9, 248-257.

Merced, M., Stutman, Z. E., & Mann, S. T. (2017). ‘Teaching the History of Psychology: A Content Analysis of Course Syllabi from Doctor of Psychology Programs’. Psychology Learning & Teaching, 17, 45-60.

Murphy, R. (1988). Social Closure: The Theory of Monopolization and Exclusion. New York: Clarendon Press.

Norcross, J. C., Kohout, J. L., & Wicherski, M. (2005). ‘Graduate Study in Psychology: 1971–2004’. American Psychologist, 60, 959–975.

Peterson, R. L., Peterson, D. R., Abrams, J. C., & Stricker, G. (1997). ‘The National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology Educational Model’. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 28, 373-386.

Raimy, V. C. (Ed.). (1950). Training in Clinical Psychology. New York, NY: Prentice Hall.

Russell, J. E. A., & Adams, D. M. (1997). ‘The Changing Nature of Mentoring in Organizations: An Introduction to the Special Issue on Mentoring in

Organizations’. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 51, 1–14.

Scott, D., Brown, A., Lunt, I., & Thorne, L. (2004). Professional Doctorates: Integrating Professional and Academic Knowledge. Berkshire, England: Open University Press.

Schneider, B., Gunnarson, S. K., & Niles-Jolly, K. (1994). ‘Creating the Climate and Culture of Success’. Organizational Dynamics, 23, 17-29.

Shulman, L. S. (2005). ‘Signature Pedagogies in the Professions’. Daedalus, Summer, 52-59.

Shulman, L. S., Golde, C., Buesche, A. C., & Garabedian, K. (2006). ‘Reclaiming Education’s Doctorates: A Critique and a Proposal’. Educational Researcher, 35, 25-32.

Spence, M. (1974). Market Signaling: Informational Transfer in Hiring and Related Screening Processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Steele, C. M. (1997). ‘A Threat in the Air: How Stereotypes Shape Intellectual Identity and Performance’. American Psychologist, 6, 613-629.

Vespia, K. (2006). ‘Integrating Professional Identities: Counselling Psychologist, Scientist-Practitioner and Undergraduate Educator’. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, 19, 265–280.

Weber, M. (1921/1978). Economy and Society. G. Roth & C. Wittich (Eds.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Original work published in 1921

How to Cite
MercedM. (2019). Professional Closure: An Example from American Clinical Psychology. Advanced Journal of Professional Practice, 2(1), 2-13.