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about ‘interpretation’ in counselling research

Saturday, January 26th, 2008 @ 6:30 am
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Posted in  Data Analysis

My fellow student S. has posed via email the following very interesting question:

“What do you think the difference is between: a therapeutic interpretation of what is being heard by the therapist and a methodological interpretation of text being read by the researcher? It is not a trick question”

Our supervisor has answered as follows:

“The big difference is the intention. I would expect a therapeutic interpretation to be part of the client’s moving on therapeutically, so how it timed and how it is said etc all crucial as well as actual content. In research it has to convince the reader – right language, right references, good rhetoric, add a dash of surprise to keep the reader awake e.g. use of images, unusual references, language, puns etc, so it has to work as text whilst the therapists has to work embodied

 I found this very important to keep in mind, especially when we know that as counsellors (especially those following relational models) we are used to bring a lot ourselves in the dynamic, we are not detached whilst operating within certain boundaries. the researcher and the data also form a ‘relationship’, which however has different dynamics, difficult to put into words though. So, the interpretations we make of the data, in order to ‘work as text’ as William is suggesting, seems to me that it requires this kind of ‘synthesising’ angle that reveals the phenomenon under investigation as much vividly as possible

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