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In Dialogue with Dr Gina Di Malta about her Talk at the OPRC Launch Event

Client Perspectives on Preferences in Psychotherapy: A Consensual Qualitative Research

Sue: What is this talk all about, Gina?

Gina: The talk is about a Consensual Qualitative Research (CQR) project examining psychotherapy clients’ experiences of preference work. The research touched upon communications and discussions of preferences between psychotherapists and clients, the accommodation of these preferences, and the impact it had on clients and on the therapeutic work.

Sue: This is fascinating, how did you get interested in this topic?

Gina: I used to work in a research clinic where we offered pluralistic psychotherapy for clients. This is a type of psychotherapy which integrates different methods based on open discussions between clients and psychotherapists and takes into account clients’ choices and preferences. This innovative approach has become very popular but there is a need to continue evidencing its effectiveness.

Sue: How do you research something like this, and specifically, how do you research it in relation to psychological science?

Gina: The effectiveness of a type of psychotherapy treatment can be researched in many ways. Currently the gold standard in this area is to use a randomized controlled trial to compare the new treatment to a control condition. The issue with this is that some treatments lend themselves better to this type of methods, in general the more a treatment can be manualised, structured and controlled, the better it can be researched with such methods. However, with most psychotherapy treatments, things are inevitably messier. The benefits of using qualitative methods like CQR is that it gives an insight into how psychotherapy processes are beneficial. In addition, this method is considered more ‘objective’ than typical qualitative research because it relies on researcher consensus in data analysis.

Sue: Why are those results important?

Gina: Knowing how preference work impacts on clients and contributes to psychotherapy outcomes can help us make psychotherapy better for people. Results from this study can directly inform new practice guidelines for pluralistic psychotherapy. Extending research on pluralistic psychotherapy can mean that if the approach is beneficial, it could be commissioned and offered more widely for people.

Sue: That is very positive. What’s next in this line of research?

Gina: With regards to preference work in psychotherapy, follow-up research could expand on some specific findings, such as an in-depth study on what facilitates or hinders communication of preferences. Quantitative studies could also follow-on from our study by looking at the role of alliance, and choice, in mediating the relationship between preference work and outcomes.

Sue: Such an interesting study. Thank you for your comments and valued observations.

Please see below the original blog about Gina’s talk and the link to the recorded talk.

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