A Review of Qualitative Research in Counseling and Psychotherapy

Article excerpt

As I will soon start my Ph.D. dissertation in family therapy utilizing qualitative methodology, I chose this book for a review using qualitative methodology. I hoped to gain practical knowledge from Qualitative Research in Counseling and Psychotherapy (McLeod, 2011) in understanding and conducting clinical qualitative research in the family therapy field. Before I go into the content of this review of the book, let me explain the process of my re-viewing the book as I share an idea with Steier (1985) that "the world as we know it is constructed by us, we cannot separate the phenomena we attempt to know from our systems of knowing" (p. 29), and that the processes of data generation themselves need to be shared. Following Chenail (2010), I contemplated on a question, "How can I honor each work with my commitment to reading the book and constructing a review that emerges from my close encounter with the text?" (p. 1636). I tried to open up myself to discover the book, reviewed the book in contexts, set up a grand tour question and subsequent questions for the review, took field notes, and allowed myself to react to texts that stood out for me in connection with the grand tour questions, coded the text, and coded the codes to create categories (Chenail, 2010). I then used the SmartArt graphic of Microsoft[R] Word to examine nested relationships among the emerging categories within each chapter and across chapters to re-render the book.

McLeod (2011) made it clear that his purpose of writing the book is "to examine the relevance of the qualitative inquiry for counseling and psychotherapy theory and practice" (p. x) through description and explanation of qualitative methods and examples of researches using these methods in the psychotherapy and counseling field, and critical revision of issues and controversies in the area of work. I then turned his purpose into a grand tour question, "How well has the author contextualized qualitative inquiry in the realm of counseling and psychotherapy theory and practice?" McLeod continues and notes that the book is aimed for beginning students and therapy trainees who want to conduct research project, dissertation, or thesis as well as experienced practitioners who want to refine their knowledge on "how research can inform practice" (p. x). In addition, McLeod claims that "readers are encouraged to regard this book as an invitation to a conversation rather than as a definitive statement about the truths of these matters" (p. x). Finally, McLeod emphasized pluralism as his position to approach issues around the "relationship between knowledge and practice" (p. xii) and makes a commitment in acknowledgment of multiple ways of knowing and positioning toward knowledge production.

Initially, I started off reviewing the book with the grand tour question in my mind while my encounter with the text of the book allowed sub questions to emerge that contextualized my re-rendering of the text of the book. The subsequent questions included: "How well has the author embedded his assumptions about the relationship between practice of psychotherapy and counseling, and qualitative inquiry?" "How well has the author described particular qualitative method in terms of its philosophy and its actual practice in counseling and psychotherapy field?" and "How well has the author translated his positioning of pluralism into the text of the book?"

In chapter one, McLeod (2011) set the context for research within therapy and counseling field strongly: "The purpose of research is to enhance knowledge, to enable us to know more about the way counseling and psychotherapy operate and how or why they are effective" (p. 1). Within the context, McLeod embodies the positioning of plurality in the text in which he pulls together two different forms of knowing (pragmatic and narrative form of knowing) and discusses about the complementary nature of the forms of knowing in which both quantitative and qualitative research traditions are embedded. …