epoché


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What Do Educational Psychologists Do?

‘Educational psychologists deal with the psychological and educational development of people in the education system.

This may include students of any age, their parents or guardians and the people who work with them. Their work can involve both assessment and intervention within the education setting. They are also likely to be involved in training and research on related issues’.

(The Psychological Society of Ireland.)

What Does Epoché Mean?

Originally an ancient Greek term coined by the Skeptics as the ‘suspension of judgement’, it was reimagined by Edmund Husserl, the founder of phenomenology, in the 20th century. Husserl conceived it as describing a technique of ‘bracketing-out’ all bias and pre-existing prejudice when examining any phenomenon.

When employed correctly, any concept or entity should be examined on its own merits, ‘subjecting them to a transcendental suspension of conviction — to epoché’ (britannica.com). In other words, each object or concept should be examined and regarded on its own as a unique entity.

Admittedly, the term is controversial (Overgaard, 2015) but the basic concept of working with a client phenomenologically means that there is an attempt to work with the client’s individual and unique world around them, and how they see the world. It requires the psychologist to listen to what they say, and how they perceive their environment, without imposing anyone else’s views, assumptions, biases and theories about the client. To allow these to cloud the assessment would simply distort the client’s voice.

Put simply, epoché attempts to bracket-out all these assumptions and listens to the client in an open manner, exploring the individual needs, challenges and strengths of the client. The result is that each person is recognised as being an individual with their own particular set of challenges, and reminds the psychologist to always consider them as such.

Why the Symbol of the Kaleidoscope?

The actual kaleidoscope itself is a simplistic grid that is made up of a series of equilateral triangles that are set against each other at 60° angles. The triangles in a kaleidoscope are mirrors that reflect light creating an infinite grid structure. These mirrored triangles create a lens through which we see objects reflected into this infinite grid. Typically, a kaleidoscope has a series of coloured objects (beads or glass) that sit above this lens and as the kaleidoscope is turned the lens creates a new pattern. The pattern created each time is unique, just as we are as individuals. The image of the kaleidoscope to represent epoché reflects that each client is considered an individual with unique and particular strengths and challenges. It is the purpose of the psychologist to come to each client with an objective and impartial perspective and to allow the client articulate their own narrative.

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Educational Psychology