Counselling like any profession requires ongoing research in order to survive and to develop. It is important to challenge old concepts and to introduce new ideas. Research can be defined simply, as the gathering and searching for information that will enable a particular problem or question to be answered. Research can be defined as ‘the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and new conclusions’ (Oxford Dictionaries, 2015). This essay will firstly examine the term research and will introduce different types of research methods. Secondly, the essay will use the journal article ‘The third person in the room: Recording the counselling interview for the purpose of counsellor training – barrier to relationship building or effective tool for professional development’ (Gossman & Miller, 2012), here after referred to as the article, as a case study in order to outline how research informs and supports counselling work. Research methods
In general, research methods can be placed into two main categories which include qualitative and quantitative data. Qualitative research methods involve describing in detail specific situations with the use of research tools such as interviews, surveys and observations. As the Qualitative Research Consultants Association (2015) outlines, these research methods are continually evolving due largely to changes in patterns and styles of human interaction and communication. For example, current methods of research could include online exchanges, telephone surveys, real-time communication and ‘time-lapse’ techniques for example diaries, electronic bulletin boards or blogs etc. However, regardless of the technique used to collect the data ‘qualitative research is always based on open-ended queries; it uses in dept probing to uncover thoughts and feelings behind initial responses; and it applies insights into learning to the research process in real time.’ (QRCA, 2015). Quantitative research methods involve the use of quantifiable data which are supported by numerical and statistical explanations. Quantitative research provides numerical descriptions, for example frequency, average and other statistics. Examples of quantitative research techniques that can adopted in context of counselling include Clearly there is a distinction made between the two types of research outlined, McLeod J (2011:73) outlines that many features of qualitative research can be found in certain quantitative studies. Figure 1 below highlights the differences between qualitative and quantitative research
Research Methods in Counselling
Some methods of qualitative research that can be effective in the context of counselling research includes focus groups, in-depth interviews (one to one), triads or paired interviews. QRCA (2015) describes focus groups as a discussion among a group of individuals that share a need, habit or life circumstance that is relevant to the research issue(s) at hand. In most cases focus groups can run for 1-2hrs and usually range from 2-10 participants. In dept interviews usually last between 30-90 mins and take place on a one to one basis with a single individual. The Association of Qualitative Research (2014) defines a triad as a form of interview involving three participants, who may or may not know each other. The use of triads offers some of the advantages of groups discussions but also some of the advantages of in depth interviews. Paired interviews can be consecutive or interlocking interviews with two people who have a shared problem for example a husband and wife in marriage counselling. It is important to note that ‘Research in counselling is bound by a general set of ethical guidelines applicable to all types of investigation of human subjects, but also generates unique dilemmas and problems distinctive to the nature of the counselling process’ (McLeod, 2011:167). Importance of Research in...
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