Resource 5 - Counselling Research: How to structure your postgrad research
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Counselling research: How to do your counseling and psychotherapy research project at masters or doctoral level.  Some ideas and inspirations.

Pale-Green-Logo2.gifSome reflections on the field of counselling research

Copyright © Dr Jim Byrne, Doctor of Counselling

March 2012 (Updated, August 2013; and 16th September 2013)



Hello and welcome to this introduction to Learning Resource 5 on counselling research.

If you are setting out on a journey through postgraduate research work, especially doctoral level work, then this page should be very helpful for you. 

My main hope is to introduce you to some key ideas which make sense of postgraduate research; plus some key resources which will support you with your challenging task of conceiving and implementing a research process which has a good chance of producing valuable data (or texts) and a viable thesis.




"Research on the (counselling) therapeutic relationship"

"A key research finding in the past 20 years is that different (counselling) therapies produce similar positive therapeutic outcomes (Luborsky, Singer and Luborsky, 1975; Smith and Glass, 1977; Stiles, Shapiro and Elliott, 1986).  As Lambert and Simon indicate... another key finding is that very little of the variance in (counselling) therapeutic outcomes is due to the treatment model that is used (Lambert, 1992; Lambert and Barley, 2001).  This has led (counselling and therapy) researchers to look for elements common to different therapeutic approaches and an analysis of the relationship that forms between therapist and client.  Bohart, Elliott, Greenberg, and Watson (2002, p.96) found that overall, empathy accounts for as much and probably more outcome variance than do specific interventions.  Fulton (2005, p.57) reports that on average 30% of treatment outcome may be attributable to 'common factors' that are present in most successful treatment relationships".

Stephen F. Hick, in Steven Hick and Thomas Bien, Mindfulness and the Therapeutic Relationship.  2010, page 11.




This page was conceived in May 2009. However, it took three years to find the time and energy needed to create and/or collate this extensive resource:


On this page I have presented a range of ideas and resources which will make stimulating reading and viewing for counselling students at masters and doctoral level; and also for practicing counsellors who are inspired to try to do some research on their own counselling practice.

I have looked at some of the key stages and key skills of postgraduate research in counselling.  And, I have presented material from my own forays in counselling research: a PhD proposal to the University of Leeds which (despite never being implemented) has some interesting features; and my doctoral research papers, and my doctoral thesis, from my professional doctorate in counselling at the University of Manchester.  Furthermore, I have included a range of video clips which contain some interesting information on various important aspects of counseling research.

To be more precise, this page consists of 18,000 words on various aspects of counselling research; supported by: 19 video clips; 19 recommended books; 34 links to relevant articles and papers - many by myself, taken from my PhD research proposal to the University of Leeds, and my Doctoral research at the University of Manchester.

Topics tackled on this page include: Research ethics; the current status of research in the counselling community; practitioner research in counselling; case studies; defining research at masters and doctoral level; how to choose a research project; how to prepare a research proposal; defining research, especially counselling research; reflexive practice and 'positionality'; how to think like a postgraduate student; research methodology and methods; qualitative and quantitative research; desktop research and literature reviews; summarized findings from counselling research; emerging directions for counselling research; examples of some of my research papers and research proposals; the great psychotherapy debate, about equivalence of outcomes; philosophy of science; evaluating the validity of quantitative and qualitative data in research reports; Novak and Gowin's (1984) epistemology; outstanding research agendas in counselling research; and many others.  I have included a link to my Doctor of Counselling thesis.


Key words: research, researchers, researching counselling, researching psychotherapy, counselling, counseling, counselling research, masters level, doctoral level, psychotherapy, therapy, research, counseling psychology, counselling philosophy, literature review, methodology, methods, data collection, qualitative, quantitative, thesis writing, philosophy of science, human science, videos on counselling research, books on counselling research, thinking skills, practitioner research networks, ...


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