Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Research in Counseling: A 10-Year Review to Inform Practice

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

Research in Counseling: A 10-Year Review to Inform Practice

Article excerpt

Research publication in the field of counseling is a current subject of discussion, as demonstrated by recent attention regarding research practices by the American Counseling Association's (ACA) flagship journal, Journal of Counseling & Development (JCD; see Bangert & Baumberger, 2005; Marotta & Watts, 2007; Nilsson, Love, Taylor, & Slusher, 2007). The focus on research seems to be motivated by both internal and external sources requiring data-driven methods for choosing and evaluating counseling interventions. Researchers have noted the benefits of practice based on empirical evidence. Bangert and Baumberger (2005) reported that government funding has increasingly required the use of interventions based on randomized experimental designs. Mate and Kelly (1997) emphasized the need for the establishment of an empirical base for the professional practice of mental health counseling. They further highlighted the need for original research to promote the mental health counseling field as a developed profession.

Since the early 20th century, practitioners and researchers have been aware of the benefits of incorporating research-based facts to direct clinical services (Rubin, 2008). Rubin (2008) suggested that the practice of incorporating best practices includes a process by which one evaluates reliable evidence and appoints certain interventions as empirically supported. Publications based on empirically supported evidence serve as a guide to practitioners seeking to uphold ethical obligations to provide counseling services based on rigorous research methodologies.

Perhaps, most important, counselors are guided by ethical obligations to seek evidence-based practices. According to the ACA Code of Ethics (ACA, 2005), "counselors have a responsibility to the public to engage in counseling practices that are based on rigorous research methodologies" (p. 9). Therefore, if counselors are to behave ethically, they must be aware of practices that are empirically supported and the general research that is occurring in the field.

Sexton (1996) discussed the importance of research when selecting relevant and effective treatments to use with clients. He emphasized that "counselors must be confident that the current status of outcome research is a valid and reliable source of information that can guide clinical practice" (Sexton, 1996, p. 590) and that counselors must draw upon research when determining the most effective treatment. Furthermore, Sexton discussed the importance of consistent research focused on areas of counseling that are relevant to the field. One specific aim of his research was to determine if the research literature being produced met the practical needs of counselors. Although he found that a variety of research publications existed about multiple topics on which counselors can draw, he did not report on quality or relevance of research available. This omission seemed to suggest that although many different topics have been researched, the consistency of research that can contribute to a substantial knowledge pool is lacking.

Nilsson et al. (2007) published a content analysis of quantitative research published in JCD over a 10-year period. They found the greatest amount of research in the areas of academic/career, multicultural issues, symptoms/disorder, and counseling process. Although the findings of this study carried significant implications about counseling research, the authors focused on only 1 out of a possible 15 ACA-affiliated journals. In addition, Nilsson et al. reviewed research from 1991 to 2000, indicating the need for a review of more current research publication practices.

Counselor educators contribute to the evidence-based literature through publication in journals that may be motivated by career productivity requirements or contribution to the field. Barrio Minton, Fernando, and Ray (2008) investigated the publication patterns of counselor educators by examining submitted manuscripts from faculty members of doctoral programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. …

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