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Counselling Psychology Quarterly, Article Critique Example

Pages: 3

Words: 818

Article Critique

Introduction

This review is based upon a psychology article ‘Counselling in Action’ (Moran, H. 2009).  The researchers examine a weekly group therapy session offered in a City CAHMS department.  This looks at the psychological issues of the girls in the group. Using a personal construct theory, they consider the symptoms and underlying problems experienced. Essentially empirical research observing individual and group behavior the research provides a qualitative assessment of the therapeutic treatment being offered.

Summary

The research indicates the increasing trend of self-harm that is being experienced in adolescence and the younger generation.  This is often associated with such conditions as depression, social factors and the feeling of hopelessness and loss of self-esteem.  The approach to therapeutic treatments needs to have a sustaining or enduring impact because research indicates that self-harm results in deeply rooted psychological problems and maladaptive functioning in later life.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has produced guidelines for treatment of those involved in self-harm.  This suggests a combined treatment approach that incorporates social, physical and psychological support with that of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT).  Empirical research of a study group indicated that those adolescents who were undergoing group therapy sessions were less likely to become repeat offenders in self-harm  and equally had improved school attendance records and a lower rate of behavioral disorders as opposed to those undergoing individual routine help sessions.

From an evidential perspective NICE states that there is not a great deal of differential between group and individual therapy sessions in terms of treating progress for depression and self-harm in adolescents.

The group of girls under observation was designed to provide a sample of a disparate group of girls from different levels of depressive disorders. The group therapy sessions were conducted on a weekly basis. The group is facilitated by a clinical psychologist and community mental health nurse. A variety of different therapeutic methods are used including cognitive behavioral therapy. A key approach utilized is that of invalidation within the context of Kelly’s theory. This being where psychological problems are related to the invalidation of experiences e.g. the depression of a schoolgirl might be directly related to the inability to cope with the pressure of too many demands for work completion deadlines.

Critique

The article is well balanced in terms of identifying the problem statement and the approach towards conducting empirical and qualitative research.  The research pulls in many expert guidelines provided by clinical psychology subject matter experts and authorities.  It does provide a high level descriptive account of the causative factors leading to the reasons behind self-harm.  This is however somewhat glossed over in terms of depth of treatment and there is a need for more in depth discussion around some of the more important factors like the social causative factors and the psychological conditions that are induced by same.

The article takes several pages before it gets into the core element of the research i.e. the clinical observations of the therapy sessions with the girls.  The article adequately provides the background in the selection of the sample size and avoids skewed results.  The sessions are discussed under good subject headings that include: Session Timing, Place and Venue, Confidentiality, Therapists etc.  This helps to provide structure to the sessions and facilitates understanding the process involved.

A particular amount of time is spent on discussing the concept and use of ‘Kelly’s theory’.  This has a disproportionate amount of time spent in demonstrating the value of this approach as compared to other techniques that are used e.g. Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy etc.  As stated previously in the paper there is an importance in providing a more holistic approach to the treatment that embraces a combination of skills i.e. social, sociology, psychology and cognitive behavioral therapy.

The conclusions focus upon the value obtained from the use of Personal Construct Therapy and how co-morbid problems have been addressed.  The important point of the girls needing to understand their symptoms and working with the therapists in order to find the best possible means to tackle them.  It is considered that more work is required to study the individual approach within group therapy.  Compared to the analysis and discussion of the group therapy sessions the conclusions are somewhat superficial and offer little substance other than just putting forward a high level perspective.

Conclusion

The text essentially can be split into three main components: (1) Introduction and Background (2) The empirical research around the group therapy sessions, embracing analysis and discussion (3) Conclusions.  The first part is the strongest part providing a good understanding of the problem and the background to the study.  The research tends to focus rather more on the process and lacks more analysis and discussion around the sociology and psychology of the therapy process. The conclusions are somewhat superficial and would have benefited from being more fully exploited in terms of discussing the findings and making appropriate recommendations.

References

Moran, H. P. (2009). Counselling in Action. Counselling Psychology Quarterly, Vol 22 No 4, 347-359.

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