About the Name

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Why does the association name speak only of science, not practice?

In most traditional forms of behavioral science, practice is an after thought, of no fundamental importance to the integrity and truth of a scientific analysis. The hope and trust of the traditional approach, born of its assumptions, is that if we understand things, we may be able to do something useful with that understanding. If we cannot, that is unfortunate, but it does not indicate that there is anything wrong with our analysis.

A functional contextual approach is quite different. We do not see science simply as an analytic tool that touches on application only as a method of evaluating applied technologies, and we do not see application merely as a hoped for extension of our scientific knowledge. Our foundational assumption is our goal: prediction and influence with precision, scope, and depth. If that goal is not reached, there is something wrong with the analysis itself. Thus, for us, application is at the very core of science itself, no matter how basic, because doing something useful with scientific ways of speaking tests the ultimate adequacy of our understanding.

When an educator is guided by RFT principles and a child is taught, those principles are tested. When a clinician applies ACT techniques and principles and a client is helped, those techniques and principles are tested. Without careful, controlled comparisons that can be shared with others, these moments are not fully adequate tests scientifically, but they are tests. That is why there is no fundamental division in our approach between such disparate work as basic RFT studies on the nature of language and cognition, and effectiveness studies on the impact of ACT training. We assume that if a scientific principle or theory is "true" it is useful, and useful in a way that is precise, broadly applicable, and coherent across levels of analysis.

The name of our society speaks simply of science and not practice because our whole purpose is to seek a new kind of science – one in which that division no longer applies. In a functional contextual approach, good science is practice, and good practice is science.