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Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is more focused on data that is not numerical, although it may use coding. Qualitative research predominantly takes place in naturalistic settings and is able to explore individual experiences and phenomena in-depth, in a very person-centred, relational way that is not possible with quantitative research.

Qualitative research methods in the therapy field have traditionally used the case study to showcase in-depth work with individual clients.

With the growth of the behavioural approach, came more quantifiable reductive methods that were more scientific by nature. At the time psychology was relentless in its pursuit to be seen as a hard science, which meant embracing the scientific methodology to claim scientific validity, with more qualitative, in-depth approaches being relegated in the field. Whilst qualitative research methodology continued to be used by other social sciences it has struggled to make a valid comeback in the psychological field.

Advantages of Qualitative Research

  • It helps us understand in-depth attitudes, perspectives, lived experiences and their impact.

  • It can generate more content for future studies, reflection and consideration.

  • It can provide very specific insights into a phenomenon.

  • It allows creativity to be able to be central

  • It is always an open-ended evolving process and is recognised as such

  • It has flexibility in the design that can be tailored to the individual and the study

  • It honours and respects individual differences.

Disadvantages of Qualitative Research

  • It is seen as less valid in the eyes of scientific research as it does not generate numerical data.

  • It is subjective

  • It can be time-consuming.

  • There are more ethical and safeguarding considerations, especially when researching with vulnerable populations

  • The studies and results are not easily replicable are can be generalised easily

  • It can be more open to influence by researcher bias.

  • It creates data that may be difficult to present.

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