Mere Theorizing Doesn’t Cut It

March 31st, 2012 | Posted by Michael Taleff in Uncategorized

In the addiction field, anyone, and I mean anyone, can construct an addiction theory. Dozens and dozens have been crafted over the years. They cover an assortment of ideas as to why addiction happens and the treatments for it. They come in book form, magazine article form, workshop form, or simply chatting with our colleagues form.

Likewise, anyone can make a claim (theory) about a client’s behavior, accounting for why clients behave as they do. Addiction counselors incessantly make such claims. For those who savor this sort of theorizing, they often spew out a notion and then hold their heads high, with folded arms on their chest, feeling a sprig of pride with their theoretical “accomplishment.”

Many counselors do this without a moment’s pause, without a moment’s reflection without a scrap of evidence.

Yet, there remains one little fly in the soup for these kinds of theorizing. Do the theories represent true progress in our field?

If they did, then it stand to reason that all this “theorizing” should have made a remarkable difference in our work. We then should be more advanced, more successful in our outcomes than we presently are. Yet, treatment wise we don’t quite seem to be that successful or advanced yet.

My point is that true progress in our field does not come from mere theorizing. It comes from clever ways to test a theory. If a theory withstands the heat of a rigorous test, and it does so time and again, then we can claim progress.

So, for all the authors, workshop presenters, and clinical staff out there who adore theorizing, it’s time to put your theory to the test. If you elect not to do this, be aware that your theory could be wrong. Why? because you choose not to test your idea.

And for those rest of us, who read these mere theories or listen to them, we an obligation to ask the author, presenter or colleague a three-word question.

Where’s your evidence?

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