Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Participatory Critical Incident Technique: A Participatory Action Research Approach for Counselling Psychology/Technique D'incident Critique Participative : Une Approche De Recherche-Action Participative Pour la Psychologie Du Counseling

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Participatory Critical Incident Technique: A Participatory Action Research Approach for Counselling Psychology/Technique D'incident Critique Participative : Une Approche De Recherche-Action Participative Pour la Psychologie Du Counseling

Article excerpt

At the heart of the definition of counselling psychology, which was formally adopted by the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) in 2009, is social action and responsibility: concern for the growth, well-being, and mental health of individuals, groups, and communities. This view supports the premise that research and practice are mutually informative and strive to adopt culturally appropriate approaches. Embedded in the core values of counselling psychology are awareness of sociocultural factors and of individual and community strengths as central mechanisms of positive change. CPA's definition of counselling psychology supports developing competencies for facilitating change in populations whose well-being is impacted by systemic circumstances. It offers a vision for counsellors and counselling psychologists to be involved in advocacy in order to promote change at various systemic levels, from micro-levels (individual and family) to macro-levels (community and societal).

Social justice is not explicitly stated in CPA's definition of counselling psychology; however, its principles of advocacy and emphasis on social and cultural contexts are embedded in the definition. Although there is no unified definition of social justice, its overall aim is to "minimize oppression and injustice in favour of equality, accessibility, and optimal developmental opportunities for all members of society" (Kennedy & Arthur, 2014, p. 188). Despite social justice being historically part of Canadian counselling psychology and propositions for a social justice orientation to be integrated in training, research, and practice (see Bedi et al., 2011; Palmer & Parish, 2008; Sinacore, 2011), there is a lack of commitment to action for integrating its principles into practice and research (Kennedy & Arthur, 2014). To address these limitations, this article presents a participatory methodology that incorporates the critical incident technique (CIT) into participatory action research (PAR), methods that are both steeped within counselling psychology in Canada (Butterfield, Borgen, Amundson, & Maglio, 2005; Butterfield, Borgen, Maglio, & Amundson, 2009; Kidd & Krai, 20051PAR

is a collaborative research process between researchers and participants that involves the development of mutual and reciprocal goals, research design decisions, data collection, analytical processes for interpretation, and ways of representing and implementing results that raise critical consciousness and promote positive social change for the participating group or community (Reason, as cited in Kidd & Krai, 2005). PAR has been supported as an intervention that encourages individual and collective agency and systemic change (Ho, 2002). According to Kidd and Krai (2005), the principles of PAR align closely with counselling psychology, as the discipline has a history of working with disadvantaged persons and recognizes contextual factors that impact individuals. The approach is valuable because it ensures that perspectives that have traditionally been marginalized or discredited are integrated into the current academic discourse, while ensuring that the research is beneficial to the community that is being studied (Herr & Anderson, 2005)Both Kidd and Krai (2005) and Vera and Speight (2003) call for the utilization of participatory methodologies in counselling psychology research.

Arguments against the utilization of PAR are pragmatic and methodological. As Kidd and Krai (2005) stated, amongst qualitative methods, "PAR as a research approach may well prove to be among the most difficult to establish and integrate" (p. 192). Moreover, PAR is sometimes conducted uncritically-research collaborators from the population of interest in the study are often limited in their contributions, and it has been criticized for seeming "unscientific" and lacking rigour and reliability (Fleming, 2011; Smith, Monaghan, & Broad, 2002).

In light of these concerns, we provide a critical examination of the use of PAR both as a research approach and as an advocacy-based intervention for vulnerable populations. …

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