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  • Research Methods in

    Clinical Psychology

    Arlene Vetere, PhD

  • Your Relationship to Research

    What is your experience of research?

    What are your beliefs about research?

    What is the role of research in systemic

    clinical psychology practice?

    Think of some research that has had an

    impact on you, and why?

    Discuss what criteria you used to judge the

    usefulness of the research

  • Qualitative Research

    Focus on understanding meanings underlying


    Emphasis on description versus general, causal


    Focus on participants representations of reality

    Emphasis on subjectivity recognition of

    uniqueness of individuals and experience

    Focus on small number of participants; data as

    text, transcript, diaries, observation

  • Qualitative Research (contd)

    Experience and behaviour should be viewed in

    context and in its full complexity

    Scientific process as generating working

    hypotheses (compare with clinical practice)

    Theorising as based upon emergence of

    concepts versus imposition of prior theory

    Variability of meanings over time and context

    Close relationship between researcher and


  • Criteria for Qualitative Research

    Accessible language, diagrams, presentation

    Interesting and inspiring

    Report draws reader in, fosters a sense of involvement

    Reflective shows evidence of self-appraisal:

    1. On methods employed, findings, consideration of alternative methods, alternative interpretations possible

    2. Reflections on researchers own stance, assumptions and possible biases

    3. Context indications of reflections on a variety of factors influencing the study and interpretation prestige, constraints, demands, and so on

  • Criteria for Qualitative Research


    Participants voice not just researchers

    account but able to hear what participants

    have to say

    Collaborative evidence that participants

    were actively involved in the research

    process, including initial consultation to the

    research question

  • Reflexivity

    Expectation that the researcher will make

    explicit their speaking position their

    interpretative framework

    Expectation that they will reflect on this in

    supervision, with peers, in a research diary, in

    a self-reflexive interview

    What aspects of the researchers

    interpretative framework have influenced the

    research process and outcomes?

  • Self-reflexive Activity

    Please reflect on the thoughts and feelings

    you have had over the last few minutes in

    relation to the material presented so far, and

    the way in which it was presented.

    Turn to your neighbour and reflect together

    on how these responses can get into

    research activity ie shaping the questions we

    ask, how we ask them, how we meet


  • Reflexivity: relevance to dissertation assessment

    Position statement and personal reflections the

    outcome of the research analysis represents a dynamic

    interaction between the researcher, participants and the

    data, including the researchers interpretative

    framework. What did you bring to the analysis? What

    personal investment do you have in the topic? How

    might they have shaped the way you interpreted the

    data? Reflection on your emotional responses to the

    data and to accounts from individual participants.

    Reflect on the group analytic process. How have you

    been affected by doing the research?

  • Quantitative cf Qualitative Research

    Structured data vs unstructured data

    Random sampling vs purposive/theoretical


    Statistical analyses vs conceptual syntheses

    Objective conclusions vs subjective


    Surveys, experiments vs focus groups,

    interviews, observations

    Generalisation to population vs generalisation

    to theory

  • Critical Appraisal of Qualitative


    Difficult to generalise

    Lack of prescribed methods

    Premature closure of text to further analysis

    Focus on text loses performative aspects of language

    Representativeness of research: sampling

    Create new truths or no truths

    Weaker positioning for subjective methodologies

    Repeatability and reliability issues

  • Qualitative Research Methodologies

    Grounded Theory

    Discourse Analysis

    Rhetorical Analysis

    Narrative Analysis

    Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

    Conversational Analysis


    Focus Groups & Delphi Study

    Action Research & Participative Research

    Mixed Methods

  • Genres of Psychotherapy Process


    Types of Question and Appropriate Methods:

    1. Quantification

    How frequent is a type of event? To what

    degree or intensity is a property generally

    present in therapy? What is typical?

    Descriptive quantitative methods: surveys,

    rating scales, category systems, descriptive



  • Types of Question (contd)


    Does a type of therapy, event, or phase of therapy have

    more of something than another type, event or phase?

    Which therapy is better for this disorder?

    Quantitative experimental and quasi-experimental

    designs: inferential statistics, RCTs, meta-analysis of


  • Types of Question (contd)


    Which aspects of therapy vary together? What types of

    event typically precede or follow another? What

    predicts therapy process and outcome?

    Bivariate and multivariate correlational methods;

    sequential analysis; prediction research, path

    analysis, meta-analyses of relational research

  • Types of Question (contd)

    Method Quality

    How well (reliably, validly) can an aspect or

    event be measured by means of a particular

    process or outcome measure?

    Psychometric or measure development


  • Types of Question (contd)


    What is the nature of a particular therapeutic

    phenomenon? What defines or constitutes it?

    Phenomenological research (IPA, theme

    analysis), grounded theory, ethnographic


  • Types of Question (contd)


    What kinds of events or aspects exist in

    therapy? What features, types or patterns do

    these events or aspects have?

    Naturalistic qualitative research (participant

    observation), grounded theory, ethnography,

    quantitative content, cluster, interaction


  • Types of Question (contd)


    What is the meaning of a therapeutic event or

    process? Why did it happen? How did it


    Interpretative research (IPA), narrative case

    study research, comprehensive process

    analysis, task analysis, discourse analysis

  • Types of Question (contd)


    What is wrong with how things are now? How

    could it be made better?

    Feminist research, participant action research

  • Types of Question (contd)


    What implicit assumptions are made in this

    research? Whose interests are served or


    Conceptual analysis, self-reflection, systematic

    analysis and critique of typical practice,

    discourse analysis, rhetorical analysis

  • Honing the Research Question

    Think of a process moment in your practice

    Develop a research question to explore it


    What do you want to understand?

    What would you learn?

    How would it change your practice?

    How would it benefit your client/s?

  • IPA: Theoretical Underpinnings

    Phenomenology: explores in detail individual

    personal and lived experience

    Hermeneutics: a two-way interpretative

    process the double hermeneutic

    similarities and patterns

    Idiography: analysis begins with a detailed

    reading of a single case

  • IPA: Epistemological Position

    Constructionist position

    Focus on individuals beliefs and experiences of topic

    under study

    The approach is phenomenological (ie how

    individuals make sense of events or experiences

    associated with topic under study)


  • IPA: Epistemological Position

    The meaning that individuals give to events or

    personal experiences becomes the focus of the study

    The generation of meaning is an interpretative

    process for both the individual and the researcher

    what might it mean for participants to have these

    concerns in this context?

    Language and context shape an individuals

    response to his or her understanding of events, or

    personal experiences

  • IPA Analysis: Looking for Themes

    Number the lines of the interview transcript, leave

    wide margins and use double/triple spacing

    Read the interview transcript many times, using right

    side margin to note anything of interest (meaning and

    context, and your responses to the text

    interpretative activity)


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