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thinking about research

I was recently asked "why do you want to do research?"  My reasons for doing research is that I believe that part of being a professional is being a reflective practitioner (in fact I’d say it is an ethical imperative to be reflective/reflexive and to critically evaluate our work). Here we need to reflexively monitor our work. The famous dictum, "The unexamined life is not worth living" supposedly said by Socrates, applies to our professionalism where I’d say (and I know others have as well), “The unexamined profession is not worth practicing”!  (see a previous paper I wrote on reflective practice: https://oro.open.ac.uk/68945/1/Finlay-%282008%29-Reflecting-on-reflective-practice-PBPL-paper-52.pdf )

I appreciate UKCP’s stated wish to cultivate a culture of research and also to challenge NICE’s current approach which focuses on 'scientific' (largely quantitative) evidence. I strongly argue that our psychotherapy research needs to be about 'Processes' as well as 'Outcomes'.  All too often, led by traditional views of science and its ‘hierarchy of evidence’, research gets equated to with outcomes and the need to demonstrate/prove the efficacy of what we do. However, we also need to do research on processes – both therapeutic processes and clients' life experiences.  My continuing project (shown in much my teaching, numerous writing and published research) is to do qualitative research on clients’ trauma experiences and on therapeutic processes in general.

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Linda Finlay - Psychotherapist

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