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The Importance of Research for Therapists Part 8

The Importance of Research for Therapists Part 8

Diary Keeping

One useful method of collecting subjective material about behaviour, feelings and human action is with the use of a diary by the participant.  Here the participant agrees to maintain a written record of pre-arranged experiences that is then analysed by the researcher.  Much like the verbal content in interviews, this material can be rich in communicating feelings, attitudes and beliefs in the participant’s vocabulary.  Like the interview tape, the diary is a permanent record and can be used over time to glean insights into changes and developments relative to specific areas of concern.

As with interview material, researcher bias is a significant threat when the material is analysed.  The tendency to find only that material that supports a researcher’s point of view or hypothesis must be eliminated as far as possible. This is particularly relevant in the research of psychotherapy and psychotherapeutic technique. Practitioners tend to be very protective of their “art” and would not like to contribute to it’s damage or criticism in any way. It is important for the psychotherapeutic researcher to understand that even if the research does not support the position of the researcher it can be a valuable lesson for the profession and help the profession to move forward.

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