“She was on my side, and grounded me when I needed it:” Research supervision in the field of therapy, based on counsellors’ and psychotherapists’ views on their engagement with research

Bager-Charleson, Sofie (2019) “She was on my side, and grounded me when I needed it:” Research supervision in the field of therapy, based on counsellors’ and psychotherapists’ views on their engagement with research. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research. ISSN 1473-3145

Abstract

Research‐supported practice is increasingly emphasised within counselling and psychotherapy at all stages of training. Guided by an interest in how to support therapists in their efforts to develop research knowledge during doctoral training, this paper focuses on research supervision. Research supervision is a surprisingly under‐researched area. Little is known to date about how supervisors “go about their supervision” (Bruce & Stoodley, 2013, p. 5), despite the fact that “high failure rates for research dissertations in the social sciences have been partly attributed to student dissatisfaction with supervision and poor student–supervisor relationships” (Armstrong, 2004, p. 134). Between 2016 and 2019, we explored accredited counsellors' and 'psychotherapists engagement with research during or after their doctoral training. This paper explores research supervision with these two previous studies serving as the backdrop (Bager‐Charleson et al., 2018a; Bager‐Charleson et al., 2018b), together with a literature review into research supervision within social sciences and psychotherapy. Supervision is discussed as a crucial coping/support strategy to (a) link research with practice in therapy work, practically and epistemologically; (b) contain and make sense of the use of transformative learning; (c) balance “enculturation” with critical thinking and emancipation; and (d) support reflective and reflexive development. This paper discusses an adaptive research supervision model, akin to a “holding bond” (Stevens, 2016) which supports the student to reflexively position her/himself personally, intersubjectively, theoretically and socio‐culturally, whilst “negotiating the tension” (Lee, 2008) during a process of enculturation into the discipline, and also fostering critical thinking and emancipation to contribute to new knowledge

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