Methodological Orientation

The present study is one of a series of studies designed to assess the experience and impact of SP/SR on practitioner development. The research orientation has been founded on certain assumptions:

1. With the paucity of data and theory in this field, the aim of the research has been to develop a database, founded on the experience of practitioners, and to use an inductive approach to build theory methodically from the data.

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2. Participants are in a unique position to comment on ways in which their experience has been impacted by personal experiential work. Formal measures may fail to pick up relevant dimensions of change, and thus con- strain data and theorizing.

3. There is a growing acceptance of qualitative methodologies within psychology

Cognitive therapy from the inside 147 and they have now reached a level of sophistication where verbal reports of participant experiences can be coded and classified in recognized, systematic ways.

4. The success of experiential learning programs (including SP/SR) is dependent on the development of trusting, engaged relationships between facilitator and participants (Robertson, 1996), and willingness to share experience. Hence, the traditional positivist detached relationship between researcher and ‘‘the researched’’ may often be unsympathetic to the context of SP/SR, unfeasible in practice, and pedagogically undesirable.

The research has been based on three qualitative methodologies: action research, grounded theory and practitioner researcher self-study. Details of these are provided in Bennett-Levy et al. and the cited references. In brief, action research contributed the participatory, cooperative approach, and the cyclical process of the plan-act-observe-evaluate spiral, which structured the research process; grounded theory contributed the methodological framework and a systematic, rigorous set of methods to collect and analyse data; and practitioner-researcher self-study pro- vided the focus on personal experience, and the reflective orientation of the study.


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