Practice research networks: promises, pitfalls and potential

Joe Armstrong, Amanda Hawkins, Mhairi Thurston, Alison Hood

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    A critical issue facing the counselling and psychotherapy profession at present concerns the question of how to build a strong and externally-credible evidence base for its effectiveness. There is an emerging view that unless we address this question, counselling and psychotherapy approaches may be sidelined in favour of therapies with a much stronger base of research findings that support their effectiveness. Ultimately, a lack of an evidence base for the effectiveness of counselling and psychotherapy approaches may mean that they struggle to survive and be recognised as credible interventions for mental distress, particularly within public sector settings.

    But how can we go about building this evidence base? There is much debate about the value and relevance of different types of research (eg qualitative versus quantitative) in relation to building such an evidence base for counselling and psychotherapy. However, perhaps a much more pressing issue concerns how we engage members of the counselling and psychotherapy community in research. Especially, when there is good evidence to show that findings from research have only limited influence on the everyday practice of counsellors and psychotherapists - often because it does not adequately address the issues they encounter in their practice. One approach to engaging practitioners in research that has been employed successfully is the establishment of ‘practice research networks'. Essentially, a practice research network (PRN) provides a structure within which researchers, practitioners and other relevant stakeholders can collaborate on collecting data and carrying out research studies.

    This workshop will present the work of two PRNs at different stages of development as case studies around which to engage in reflection and discussion regarding the challenges and potential of the practice research network as a means of promoting and developing research that might contribute to the establishment of an evidence base for counselling and psychotherapy. Dr Joe Armstrong from the University of Abertay will present the work of the recently established Scottish Voluntary Sector Counselling Practice Research Network and Amanda Hawkins, Senior Manager RNIB (Chair of BACP) and Mhairi Thurston, University of Abertay will present the work of the Vision Impairment Network for Counselling and Emotional Support (VINCE). The workshop will also provide opportunities for discussion in small groups and contributions from participants in larger plenary sessions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2012
    EventBACP's 18th Annual Research conference : Understanding counselling and psychotherapy: preferences, process and outcomes - Boxburghe Hotel, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
    Duration: 10 May 201212 May 2012
    Conference number: 18


    ConferenceBACP's 18th Annual Research conference
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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