Entry for 15 May 2010:
Before the Rome SPR meeting in 2004, my friend Alberto Zucconi took me to dinner with some of his friends and colleagues. Over several bottles of wine and a massive amount of food, they persuaded me to become the Scientific Director of an international project to encourage research on psychotherapy and psychotherapy training. We had no funding and no concrete plans; we just wanted to encourage practice-based research on psychotherapy, especially in training centers. We eventually collected a group other folks to be on a steering committee, set up various sites/virtual communities on the World Wide Web, and applied unsuccessfully for a couple of complicated, multi-center EU grants. The most concrete thing to come out of this project was the Leuven Protocol (Stinckens, Elliott & Leijssen, 2008), and a couple of articles, one published with Alberto Zucconi in 2006 in Person-Centred and Experiential Psychotherapies, and the other a chapter in a book on practice-based research that has just come out: A core approach to delivering practice-based evidence in counselling and the psychological therapies, edited by Michael Barkham, Gillian Hardy and John Mellor-Clark.
When Alberto and I were trying invent our project, I wasn’t too clear about the organizational bits, but what I could do was develop a conceptual framework for practice-based research, so that’s what I did. This book chapter is a further refinement of that conceptual model, with different examples, so that it complements the earlier PCEP article. The International Project on the Effectiveness of Psychotherapy and Psychotherapy Training (IPPEPT) remains a project in the existential/aspiration rather than the practical/concrete sense: The project is really a Life Project to generate more research in counselling and psychotherapy training courses and by counsellors and psychotherapists in real-world practice settings. On this front, progress is slow and incremental. So far, the Leuven Protocol, led ably by Nele Stinckens at the University of Leuven, is the clearest sign of the success of the project, still going strong and even expanding all over Flemish-speaking Belgium in a variety of mental health settings. However, just last month, helped by a boost from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, the teaching staff for Postgraduate Diploma in Person-Centred Counselling at the University of Strathclyde finally agreed to convert the case study paper into in systematic case study, with quantitative and qualitative assessment of outcome and process.
Summary (condensed from the introduction of the chapter):
The gap between psychotherapy research and practice has led to the disenfranchisement of many forms of therapy, including person-centred/experiential, psychodynamic and systems approaches, all of which are currently under-represented on lists of empirically-supported or evidence-based treatments. The key to maintaining and increasing the recognition of these and other therapies in the current political-historical moment is for us to study them using a variety of methods, quantitative and qualitative, single case and randomized clinical trials, treatment development and practice-based. The present situation has inspired researchers and educators in several countries to develop demonstration programmes featuring practice-based research and Practice Research Networks (PRNs). In this chapter, we describe some organizational structures and conceptual frameworks for encouraging collaborative practice-based research. In particular, we present a practice-based research framework and protocols for studying treatments and training experiences in psychotherapy training centres and institutes. We conclude with a discussion of recent methodological developments that promise to enhance this research and a list of suggestions for getting involved in therapy research collaborations.
Reference: Elliott, R. & Zucconi, A. (2010). Organization and Conceptual Framework for Practice-Based Research on the Effectiveness of Psychotherapy and Psychotherapy Training. In M. Barkham, G. Hardy, & J. Mellor-Clark (Eds.). A core approach to delivering practice-based evidence in counselling and the psychological therapies (pp. 287-310). Chicester, UK:Wiley & Sons.