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Therapy Process Research: A Content Analysis of Four Leading Journals Open Access


Other title
content analysis
process research
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Allan, Angela M
Supervisor and department
Hanson, William (Counselling Psychology)
Examining committee member and department
Whelton, William (Counselling Psyology)
Hanson, William (Counselling Psychology)
Wallace, Kevin (Counselling Psychology)
Department of Educational Psychology
Counselling Psychology
Date accepted
Graduation date
2017-06:Spring 2017
Master of Education
Degree level
In 1994, Hill, Nutt, and Jackson conducted a systematic, 15-year review of the Journal of Counseling Psychology (JCP) and Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (JCCP). Their review focused on study characteristics of published process research. They defined process as the “within-session interaction in face-to-face treatment with therapists and clients” (p. 365) and concluded that, generally speaking JCP published proportionately more process-oriented research than JCCP. Further, that research was most likely to involve brief, individual therapy, and the evaluation was most likely to involve pre-existing measures focused primarily on evaluating therapists and their techniques and facilitative conditions using pre-existing measures. In an effort to update an extend Hill et al.’s findings, the present review sampled articles from four leading therapy journals: JCP, JCCP, Psychotherapy, and Psychotherapy Research (PR). In total, 1,375 articles between 2000-2016 were studied. Just over fourteen percent (14.55%) of these randomly sampled studies (n = 200) were process-oriented. PR published the greatest proportion of therapy process research (13.92%) as well as process-outcome research (15.75%). In five-year time blocks, process studies increased from 2.96% to 8.45%; and process-outcome studies increased from 5.66% to 11.27%. The profile of a typical study in the last 15 years appears to involve process and outcome of individual therapy in a real setting, between an experienced therapist and an adult client who as been asked/recruited to participate. Further, the prototypical study likely involves asking clients to complete a single, previously-used process measure of their impression of the working alliance, which will be report reliability estimates for "data in hand.”
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