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Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the approach to research contained in this article (1000 words).

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The assignment

In this final assignment you need to do the following:

  1. Summarise
    the research article on ‘Therapist self-disclosure and the therapeutic
    relationship: a phenomenological study from the client perspective’
    which you will find at the end of this EMA guidance (500 words).
  2. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the approach to research contained in this article (1000 words).
  3. Conclude by discussing which understanding of the counselling relationship you feel most drawn to and why (450 words).

(25% of total assessment, 2000 words)

There are three parts to the assignment, so the student notes here are presented in three sections.

Part 1

In the first part of this assignment (500 words),
you are asked to summarise the research paper entitled ‘Therapist
self-disclosure and the therapeutic relationship: a phenomenological
study from the client perspective’, (Audet, C. T. & Everal, R. D.,
2010), which is provided at the end of this EMA guidance. You will need
to read through the article several times and make notes on the main
points. Your summary should answer the following questions:

  • What is the main purpose or aim of the research?
  • What is the methodology adopted in this study?
  • What are the main results?
  • How are the results discussed and what are the main implications and conclusions drawn from the study?

These
points will help you to structure your summary. To avoid plagiarism, be
careful not to ‘copy and paste’ from the article, but describe and
summarise the main information and conclusions from the research in your
own words.

It is important that your summary of the research
article looks different and is written with a different purpose than the
synopsis of the research provided by the article abstract. Whilst an
abstract usually offers a short (often less than 250 words) but concise
‘preview’ for the reader of what to expect in a research article, its
main aim is to ‘sell’ the article and to make the relevance of the
research recognisable for the audience. In contrast, you are asked here
to set your own course in describing the key aspects of the research in a
more substantial manner (see bullet points above). This means that your
summary should not be restricted to the information provided in the
article abstract, but include issues that you think are important to
understand and appraise the presented research and its implications.

In
the following example, you will see how such a summary might look in
comparison to the brief information provided by an abstract of a
research article. Read through the extract below first, which is taken
from the abstract of a research paper and contains some information on
aim and purpose of the study (Salvio, M.A. (1992), ‘The strength of the
therapeutic alliance in three treatments for depression’, Psychotherapy Research, 2(1), 31-36).

Abstract:

‘The
present study used the Working Alliance Inventory (WAI) and the
Barrett-Lennard Relationship Inventory (BLRI) to examine the nature of
the therapeutic alliance in three treatments for depression, Focused
Expressive Psychotherapy, Cognitive Therapy, and
Supportive/Self-Directed Therapy.’

(Salvio et al., 1992, p.31)

In
contrast, have a look at the following summary which you will see
provides a more detailed account of this part of the article
(introduction/study aims).

Summary:

The aim of this
quantitative study on the therapeutic relationship in psychotherapy for
depression was threefold. The first aim was to compare findings from two
instruments that are based on different theoretical conceptualisations
of the relationship between client and therapist. The ‘Barrett-Lennard
Relationship Inventory’ (BLRI) is measuring the degree to which the
therapist shows the core conditions from person-centred therapy
(empathic understanding, unconditional regard, congruence). The ‘Working
Alliance Inventory’ is derived from the concept of working alliance,
defined as the personal bond between client and therapist and their
commitment to work together on shared goals and tasks. The second aim
was to investigate how the therapeutic relationship develops in the
course of the therapy. Thirdly, the study wanted to compare relationship
pattern and development across three different therapy forms for
depression, focused expressive psychotherapy (a Gestalt-based group
therapy), cognitive therapy, and supportive/self-directed therapy (with
self-help elements). Having two scales in the study can help to
establish the discriminatory validity of the instruments (do they indeed
measure two separate constructs? To what degree do they overlap?).
However, it can be questioned whether a more open, qualitative research
approach (e.g. with interviews, observations) would have been more
beneficial to provide insight into the ‘nature of the therapeutic
alliance’ (overall study aim as stated in the article abstract).

Part 2

In the second part of this assignment (1000 words),
you are asked to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the approach
to research contained in the article, in other words, to provide some
critical evaluation of this approach. You will see that the article is
based on a qualitative approach to research. As such, it relates
particularly to the material which you will find in chapter 14 of the
module text by John McLeod (‘Process research’). You can specifically
draw on the section ‘What is qualitative research?’ (general overview of
qualitative methods) as well as on some discussion in this chapter of
how to evaluate qualitative research. For example, how can we assess the
validity and reliability of the findings of qualitative research
studies? Does a qualitative article merely represent the views of the
author, or can it claim a wider ‘truth value’? In which ways is research
shaped by the qualities and personality of the researcher (see Activity
14.2 in the textbook: The concept of researcher reflexivity)? The list
of ‘Quality criteria for qualitative research’ in the information box in
Chapter 14 might also be helpful for your critical evaluation of
qualitative research.

In order to consider both the strengths and
weaknesses of the qualitative approach, it would be useful to think
about the contrast offered by a quantitative approach to research and
you will find this discussed in Chapter 13 of the module text by Michael
Barkham and Meg Barker (‘Outcomes research’). The material provided in
this chapter will help you to develop your critical evaluation. The
information box on ‘Qualitative and Quantitative Research’ contains an
overview of the key differences between qualitative and quantitative
research. You will find relevant discussions of the strengths and
weaknesses of both approaches throughout Chapter 13 and Chapter 14, and
research findings from both approaches are also discussed in audiovisual
excerpt 20. Be careful, though, not to spend too much of your time
comparing and contrasting the two approaches in general – keep your
focus on the qualitative approach and its strengths and weaknesses.

Part 3

Following
from the presentation of issues around the therapeutic alliance in the
research paper, you should conclude the assignment (in the remaining 450 words)
by reflecting on which theoretical understanding of the relationship
between client and counsellor you feel most drawn to and why. If you
look back over the six main approaches to counselling which have been
covered in this module, you will appreciate that the different
approaches have different ways of understanding the counselling
relationship. For example, the classical psychoanalytic approach would
see the counselling relationship as a parent-child-type relationship
enabling the client to work through early experiences in the
here-and-now with the therapist, whilst the person-centred approach
would see it much more as an adult-adult relationship in which both
parties work together in a relatively equal way to deal with the
presenting concerns (see, for example, the discussion in the Section
12.3 entitled ‘A relationship typology’ in Chapter 12).

You will
want to draw particularly on Chapter 12, ‘The therapeutic relationship’,
but also on the material throughout the entire module that gives you
insight into how different counselling approaches understand and make
use of the counselling relationship (especially Chapter 4 to Chapter 9
and audiovisual excerpts 5 to 14). You might also reflect on your own
practical experiences and how you relate to people and you should refer
to what you have learned throughout the module about the different ways
the counselling relationship can be understood. Again, as in TMA 02 and
TMA 03, it is appropriate here to use the first-person (‘I’) when
explaining which conceptualisation of the counselling relationship you
feel most drawn to and why.

Overall, your assignment should be no more than 2000 words
in length and you should structure your assignment into the three
sub-sections as we have done here, with subheadings for each section.
For this assignment you do not need to write a separate introduction and
conclusion for the assignment as a whole, just go straight into section
(a); section (c) is your conclusion.

Self-reflection

On a separate page, we would like you to write a few sentences (not more than 50 words) saying:

  • what you found interesting about this assignment
  • what you found difficult about this assignment.

The
50 words are part of the overall word count of the assignment so make
sure you leave enough words for this. It should be written in the
first-person (‘I found this interesting…’ and ‘I found this
difficult…’).

Things you found interesting might include such
things as the content of the article, thinking about the issue of
self-disclosure in counselling, and learning about qualitative research.
Things you found difficult might include such things as summarising the
key information, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of
qualitative research, and expressing why a certain approach to the
counselling relationship appeals to you.

It is important that you
complete this activity, as it will help you to think about your
interests and your strengths and weaknesses and help the marker to
understand what areas you found easier or struggled with.

Attachments:

Therapist-sel….pdf

 

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