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Research in practice

Research in practice

Why should research be of interest to a therapist in practice or to the student in Social Science?  Consider the following issues for a moment and then write down in Work Box One how you think applied research may be useful in each case.

  • a) A client presents an unusual history at the initial consultation
  • b) A practitioner wishes to evaluate the effect of a specific therapeutic intervention
  • c) The efficacy of an intervention for certain individuals is in doubt
  • d) Certain presenting conditions seem to be more prevalent amongst specific individuals

The above issues raise important considerations for the therapist wishing to maintain high standards of professional competence.  He or she may have some notion about one or all of the issues from his/her experience in practice yet what is needed is some reliable way of gathering information and presenting an argument based upon the evidence.

The complexities of dysfunctional human behaviour, the antecedents, the behaviours and the consequences of such behaviour, whilst unique to the patient or client may, for example, reflect a number of similarities common to some specific conditions.  The term syndrome for example, one borrowed from medical science, is used where clusters of symptoms or behaviours exist, often underlying some relatively clear condition of illness or behavioural dysfunction.  The identification of symptom clusters will have been identified through research leading ultimately to a better understanding of the causes, the effects and the efficacy of intervention methods.  Where previous research has been undertaken, it bodes well for the practising therapist to become acquainted with it.

Access to the literature holding information about dysfunctional behaviour outside the knowledge of the therapist may well provide a useful insight into what is known about the condition and how it might be modified.  Accessing such literature and evaluating its relevance to the specific case require the implementation of a range of inter-related skills as well as a few practical steps.

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