From single case to database: A new method for enhancing psychotherapy, forensic, and other psychological practice

Daniel B. Fishman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This article proposes a new model for knowledge generation in applied and professional psychology - the pragmatic case study (PCS) method. Drawing from both psychology's traditional, quantitative and alternative, qualitative approaches, the PCS method involves the creation of systematic, peer-reviewed case studies (in all areas of applied psychology) that follow D. Peterson's "disciplined inquiry" epistemological model. The studies would be organized into "journal-databases" that combine (a) individual studies; (b) articles that address epistemological, theoretical, methodological, logistical, economic, political, and ethical issues in the PCS method; and (c) substantive cross-case analyses of groups of individual cases already published in the database. To lay out the proposal's arguments, the article begins by setting forth relevant historical and philosophical context, and then examines a possible set of initial methodological guidelines for ensuring rigorous quality in each case study. Next the PCS method's value in creating new and useful applied knowledge is demonstrated for two areas: psychotherapy efficacy research and forensic psychology. Finally, the implications of the present proposal are explored. Throughout, the emphasis is on creating an integrative, pragmatic alternative for gaining new useful knowledge in our discipline.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-304
Number of pages30
JournalApplied and Preventive Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


  • Applied Psychology
  • Pragmatic case study
  • Psychotherapy


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