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Qualitative Research in Counselling and Psychotherapy

Qualitative Research in Counselling and Psychotherapy

Second Edition

March 2011 | 352 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
The need to show how and why counselling works has led to an explosion of research activity, and a growing focus on research in counselling and psychotherapy teaching and practice. Yet this book, even now in its second edition, stands alone in addressing qualitative research in therapy.

Leading expert, John McLeod helps readers through each stage of the research process, explaining techniques for gathering data, writing up the study and evaluating the findings. Each qualitative method is clearly described and critically assessed in terms of its own strengths and weaknesses. Examples from actual research studies are given to show how the methods work in practice. This new edition incorporates developments in qualitative research over the last ten years and includes many new chapters, covering:

  • interpretative phenomenological analysis
  • heuristic research and autoethnography
  • action research
  • case study methods
  • narrative analysis

For all those involved in research - whether as part of academic study or in practice -this book will be essential reading. As an introduction to qualitative methods, it is the perfect course text for counselling and counselling psychology, and psychotherapy, and will also be of interest to those who provide counselling in other professional areas such as teaching, nursing and social work.

Qualitative Research in Counselling and Psychotherapy: Achievement and Potential
The Philosophical Basis of Qualitative Research
Doing Qualitative Research
Phenomenological Research
Ethnographic Approaches to Research in Counselling and Psychotherapy
Using Grounded Theory
Variants of Grounded Theory: Thematic Analysis, Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis, Consensual Qualitative Research and Ideal Type Analysis
Analysis of Conversation and Discourse
Narrative Analysis
Personal Experience Methods: Heuristic Research and Autoethnography
Using Participation in Inquiry to Enhance Practical Knowing: Action Research
Qualitative Case Studies
The Role of Qualitative Methods in Outcome Research
The Concept of Validity in Qualitative Research
Next Steps: Taking the Research Agenda forward

'The book is an excellent reference book for researchers in counseling and psychotherapy field who want to situate their research practice based on qualitative distinctions that they wish to bring forward on particular phenomenon of counseling and psychotherapy' -
The Qualitative Report

'I highly recommend this thoughtful scholarly book for readers at all levels who want to learn about qualitative research. John McLeod has an excellent grasp on the philosophical underpinnings of qualitative research. And he presents various qualitative methods in a clear, fair, even-handed manner, encouraging readers to see the best in what the approaches have to offer. I really like his stance of not saying that there is one "right" method, but that all have different things to offer.'
Clara E. Hil
University of Maryland

'Once again John McLeod has created a wonderful resource for counselling and psychotherapy researchers in this updated book which demonstrates his impressive range and depth of knowledge. This book is of value to beginning and more experienced researchers in the field, as well as to those who teach and supervise research at Masters and Doctoral stages. McLeod produces finely balanced arguments for all research approaches and does not shy away from the political and methodological issues that engage therapy researchers and practitioners at this time.'

Kim Etherington Ph.D.
Emeritus Professor, University of Bristol

Students really like this book as it is comprehensive and easy to understand.

Mrs Jaime Leanne Ross
School of Health Studies, Darlington College
October 13, 2023

I really enjoyed the first edition of this book and was keen to read the second edition to see if it would be suitable to recommend to students. I have not been disappointed, this is an excellent book, very well written, easy to read, understand and digest, and specifically focused on research in counselling and psychotherapy. I will be recommending this as an essential reading resource on qualitative methods for my MSc research students

Dr Aisling McMahon
School of Nursing, Dublin City University (DCU)
March 31, 2016

This book supports the qualitative research discussed on the module

Mrs Susan Simpson
Scarborough Campus, Hull University
October 22, 2015

Excellent book which I recommended to be included in several units, apart from Introduction to Health Psychology and COunselling that I teach on

Ms Maja Jankowska
Psychology Department, Bedfordshire University
July 6, 2015

This text is a new resource in qualitative methods in counseling psychology research. It will enhance the class with ample resources in this area.

Dr Bahman Shirazi
Integral Counseling Psychology, Calif Inst Of Integral Studies
January 30, 2015

This is an excelling book for introducing and advancing students knowledge of counselling research. It is well written, taking the student through essentials of the subject.

Mrs Nicola Grass
Health and Social Care, Weston College
December 17, 2014

One of the best books I have ever read. It has been recommended and students will learn much of it

Dr George Varvatsoulias
Counselling, Newham College of Further Education
July 14, 2014

This is a useful book for teaching qualitative research methods and to guide students conducting quaitative research. I've chosen a more generic research text as my core reading.

Ms Patti Wallace
Department of Psychology, Newman Univ.
July 3, 2014

Clearly written, a good overview that stimulates reflection and engagement witht the issues. Easy to understand for students at different levels

Ms Marie Jefsioutine
Counselling Department, Warwick University
April 8, 2014

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1

John McLeod

John McLeod has held appointments in universities in the UK, New Zealand and Italy, and is currently Professor of Counselling at the Institute for Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy, Dublin, and Professor of Psychology, University of Oslo. He is committed to promoting the relevance of research as a means of informing therapy practice and improving the quality of services that are available to clients, and has received an award from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy for his exceptional contribution to research. His writing has influenced a generation of trainees in the field of counselling, counselling... More About Author