'A new book by John McLeod is always a treat and, like good qualitative research, takes the reader by surprise, and shows him or her something new. The revelation to me in this book is its focus on philosophy (rather than psychology) and on John's insistence that qualitative research is rooted in a mixture of phenomenology and hermeneutics. Those of us engaged in qualitative research are challenged to underpin our work with a deeper awareness of relevant philosophy with Chapters 2, 3 and 4 offering a good starting point. This book might not be seen then as being for the novice researcher who, in any case, would be best advised to start with one of John's earlier books: Doing Counselling Research (SAGE,1994) or Practitioner Research in Counselling (SAGE,1999). However, many parts of this book are essential reading for those beginning qualitative research. The first half of Chapter 9, for example, 'How to Do Qualitative Research?' is rich material, as is Chapter 6, which explores grounded theory, referred to by John as the 2market leader2 in qualitative research.
Chapter 10 takes a critical stance on randomized controlled trials before arguing the case for using qualitative outcomes measures: "Qualitative interviews appear to be, at present, the most sensitive method for the evaluation of the harmful effects of therapy and also for recording its greatest successes. The standardized self-report methods used in randomized trials appear both to inhibit criticism of therapists and reporting of deterioration and also give little scope for clients to describe the hugely positive transformational experiences that can sometimes take place in counselling". 'This book deeply addresses what it means to do qualitative research into counselling and psychotherapy with plenty for the novice researcher and even more for those already deeply immersed in qualitative research' - William West, Counselling and Psychotherapy Research Qualitative methods are particularly suited to answering the kinds of questions that counsellors and psychotherapists need to ask about their practice.
Qualitative Research in Counselling and Psychotherapy has therefore been written to help researchers find their way through the range of methodologies and techniques available to them. Leading expert, and bestselling author John McLeod takes the reader through each stage of the research process, explaining techniques for gathering data, writing up the study and evaluating the findings. Each qualitative method is clearly described and critically assessed in terms of its own strengths and weaknesses. Examples from actual research studies are given to show how the methods work in practice. The need to show how and why counselling works has led to an explosion of research activity. For all those involved in research - whether as part of academic study or in practice this book will be essential reading. As an introduction to qualitative methods, this it is certain to be widely recommended on courses in counselling and counselling psychology and will also be of interest to those who provide counselling in other professional areas such as nursing and social work.
John McLeod is Professor of Counselling at the University of Abertay Dundee, Scotland, and previous Professor of Counselling Studies at Keele University, England. Originally trained in person-centered counseling and psychotherapy, he has shifted in recent years in the direction of a narrative-informed approach. Research interests include the development of qualitative methods for the hermeneutic narrative analysis of interview and psychotherapy transcript data, and the creation of practitioner-oriented research strategies. He has published six books, including An Introduction to Counselling, Second Edition (Open University Press 1998), which incorporates a chapter on narrative approaches, Narrative & Psychotherapy (Sage Ltd, 1997), which reviews recent developments in narrative-informed theory, research and practice, and Qualitative Research in Counselling & Psychotherapy (Sage Ltd, 2000), which includes a chapter on research into narrative and discourse in psychotherapy. He has also published over 30 chapters and papers on a range of counseling and psychotherapy topics. In addition to their academic work, both Angus and McLeod are practicing clinicians who see clients, train and supervise clinical psychologists in psychotherapy and counseling skills and are engaged in psychotherapy process and outcome research. In their work, they attempt to fully integrate theory and research into practice, and they believe that each component of the process-practice, theory, evaluation/research-inform each other.