Academic journal article The International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work

So Many Possibilies: Psychotherapy Research and Narrative Therapy

Academic journal article The International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work

So Many Possibilies: Psychotherapy Research and Narrative Therapy

Article excerpt

An interview with John McLeod

John McLeod is Emeritus Professor of Counselling at the University of Abertay Dundee. He is committed to promoting the relevance of research as a means of informing therapy practice and improving the quality of services that are available to clients. His enthusiastic search for finding ways to make research interesting and accessible for practitioners has resulted in a teaching award from the students at his own university and an award for exceptional contribution to research from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. His writing has influenced a generation of trainees in the field of counselling and psychotherapy, and his books are widely adopted on training programs across the world. John McLeod can be contacted c/o

The interviewer was David Denborough.

In this interview, John McLeod invites and encouarges narrative therapists to engage more rigorously with counselling and psychotherapy research; acknowledge a distinctive narrative therapy research identity, and provides an over view of a range of research methodologies par ticularly relevant to narrative therapists.

Keywords: outcome research, narrative analysis, conversational analysis, practice innovations, action research.

David: As you well know, for all sorts of reasons, narrative therapists have been reticent to engage with formalised, academic research. We're basically now in the process of exploring ways to engage and excite the field of narrative therapy in research that is directly relevant for practice. As you have significant knowledge of narrative practice and narrative psychology and a particular passion and thoughtfulness about research, are there any particular messages, encouragements or challenges that you would like to offer to narrative practitioners?

John: That's a difficult question. I suppose my initial reaction is that within the mainstream counselling and psychotherapy research field, I believe there is a huge amount of literature that has the potential to be informative and interesting for narrative therapy practitioners, and yet as far as I can see, narrative therapy practitioners don't seem to be reading it.

I would say that narrative therapists have really tried to develop a distinctive research identity that's informed by the philosophy and values of narrative therapy. I would characterise this identity as trying to develop a kind of reflexive politically aware collaborative approach to research. There's a great deal that I applaud in this approach.

At the same time, however, there are other people within the psychotherapy research field who are trying to develop a similar approach and I believe there are connections to be made there. And I also think even within the work of psychotherapy and researchers who are doing quite different types of research, for instance even various randomised control trials, can be of interest to narrative practitioners. So I guess my first encouragement to narrative therapy practitioners would be to be a bit more open to wider fields of psychotherapy research.

I'd like to make mention here of the work of Lyn Vromans and Ron Schweitzer which does bridge the gap between narrative therapy mainstream psychotherapy research.

I think your encouragement comes at just the right time. I know there are many diverse forms of psychotherapy research, but perhaps we can start with outcome research. If you were to encourage narrative practitioners to get interested in outcome research, what within these realms is most interesting to you at present?

Outcome research is basically asking the big questions:

* Does it work?

* Does it help people?

* To what extent do different kinds of therapy help people?

Over the last 30 to 40 years there has been a massive investment in various kinds of medical model outcome research. These involve measuring people's 'symptoms' and then they get therapy and then measuring the symptoms again. …

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