The Power of Multiple Methods and Evidence Sources: Raising the Profile of Canadian Counselling Psychology Research

Article excerpt

In counselling psychology, research and practice are viewed as mutually informative, and Canadian counselling psychologists conduct research in a wide range of areas, utilizing a wide range of research methods. However, there are few Canadian publications that give prominence to counselling psychology scholarly work. Over the past decade, two trends have become more prominent in the practice of counselling psychology: evidence-based practice and outcome-focused intervention. Traditionally, empirical evidence for the efficacy of practice interventions has come from randomized controlled trials. This fails to reflect the diversity of methods and practice that Canadian counselling psychologists utilize. To address this discrepancy, in this article we provide some alternate ways for obtaining empirical support for the predictive efficacy of counselling interventions. We conclude by addressing some challenges currently facing counselling psychologists in Canada (i.e., publication venues, funding for research, the connection between research and practice, preparation of students) and describing some ways for raising the profile of counselling psychology research and practice in Canada.

Keywords: Canadian counselling psychology research, evidence-based practice, research challenges, multiple methods research

Research and practice are viewed as mutually informative and counselling psychologists conduct research in a wide range of areas, including those of the counselling relationship and other psychotherapeutic processes, the multicultural dimensions of psychology, and the roles of work and mental health in optimal functioning. Canadian counselling psychologists are especially concerned with culturally appropriate methods suitable for investigating both ernie and etic perspectives on human behaviour, and promote the use of research methods drawn from diverse epistemological perspectives, including innovative developments in qualitative and quantitative research. (Bedi et al., 20 11, p. 130)

The preceding quotation, drawn from the comprehensive definition of counselling psychology adopted by the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) in 2009, encapsulates the current state of scholarly practice in Canada, and hints at several issues that are confronting Canadian counselling psychology researchers today. In this article, we provide an in-depth discussion of three of these issues: (a) the diversity of methodologies that are employed by Canadian counselling psychology researchers, (b) the importance of connecting research and practice when considering the meaning of research evidence in a counselling psychology perspective, and (c) challenges associated with raising the profile of counselling psychology in Canada. Directions that we believe to be important for the discipline to pursue in the future are also discussed. First, however, it is important to obtain an understanding of the current state of research in our discipline.

Canadian counselling psychologists have been engaged in conducting high quality research even before counselling psychology was established as a section within the Canadian Psychological Association 25 years ago. Counselling psychologists in Canada have contributed substantially to the literature on a wide range of subjects related to human development, psychological functioning, and practice, and have gained international renown in numerous areas, including research on career development (e.g., Cochran, 1997; Young et al, 2010), counselling processes (e.g., Bedi & Horvath, 2004; Horvath, & Luborsky, 1993), and immigration/ cultural contexts (e.g., Arthur & McMahon, 2005; McCormick, 1998; Samuda & Lewis, 1999).

Moreover, the values that guide the definition of counselling psychology are evident in the research directions undertaken by counselling psychologists in Canada. Although researchers are engaged in examining the full range of phenomena that could be considered within the purview of counselling psychology, previous authors have identified several areas of particular strength for Canadian counselling psychology research. …