“Therapists and Research – an ambivalent relationship?” by Dr Sofie Bager-Charleson

Therapists and Research – an ambivalent relationship? 

References are frequently made to a strained relationship between therapeutic practice and research. Goldfried and Wolfe (1996) described the relationship as a ‘strained alliance’. Tasca (2015) refers to a ‘practice–research divide, which is widely acknowledged as a problem in psychotherapy’ and Henton (2012) has suggested that psychotherapy and research are often characterised as ‘opposing domains’.

The Research Academy at Metanoia offers workshops focusing specifically on Psychotherapy research, including two recent studies into Therapists and Research (Bager-Charleson et al 2018a, 2018b). One study focuses on therapists’ (counsellors and psychotherapists) reasoning about their engagement with ‘research’ as described in dissertations and in personal, anonymously presented documents, research journals and interviews included. Turning our attention to the therapists’ ‘narrative knowing’ about research highlighted a complex relationship involving epistemological discrepancies, real or imagined, between practice and research. It also highlighted gender issues, culture and commonly held constructs about what constitutes a ‘counsellor’, which we believe influence therapists’ presence in research. We decided to include the citation “Therapists have a lot to add to the field of research, but many don’t make it there” in the title to illustrate some of the complexity.

The Metanoia workshops touches some of these difficulties, and ranges from qualitative to quantitative research with focus on improving practice through reflexive research. The speakers include Carla Willig, Mick Cooper, Bill Stiles, Dr Marie Adams and Dr Alan Priest.

*Bager-Charleson, S., du Plock, S., McBeath, A (2018a in press) “Therapists Have a lot to Add to the Field of Research, but Many Don’t Make it There: A Narrative Thematic Inquiry into Counsellors’ and Psychotherapists’ Embodied Engagement with Research” Journal for Language and Psychoanalysis

Bager-Charleson, S., McBeath, A., du Plock, S. (2018b in Press) “The Relationship Between Psychotherapy Practice and Research: A Mixed-Method Exploration of Practitioners’ Views” Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, CPR, Journal, special issue, winter 2018.

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