The research objective in the given article was to examine how the use of metaphors found in fairy tales could facilitate self-reflection in the clinical supervision of counsellors-in-training. The research objective was stated in the research design section of the paper. The authors of the study defined the term “self-reflection” according to the constructs found in the Integrated Developmental Model (IDM) of supervision: Motivation, Autonomy as well as self and other- awareness. These constructs can be operationally defined and were relevant to the research problem. By using the three constructs listed above, the researchers had narrowed the scope of the study to self-reflection as applied to clinical supervision of counsellors-in-training. This was important in defining the boundaries for the study as the concept of self- reflection was defined in the context of clinical supervision of master’s level counselling students and not in other situations such as self- reflection in graduate students who did not major in counselling for example. The researchers highlighted previous research that studied the use of stories as a tool in supervision and counselling. In particular, current literature on the use of metaphors found in stories as an aid to clinical supervision of counsellors was highlighted by the researchers in the literature review, such as Barclay (2007).
The literature review conducted by the researchers was comprehensive as sufficient background information was provided to justify how the use of reflective practices such metaphors in stories could be useful in the supervision of trainee counsellors pursuing a counselling Masters course. The literature review in the given study also provided sufficient justification on the need to conduct additional qualitative research that would address the research question. The research design in the given study was qualitative in nature. As a qualitative study tends to capture rich verbal information pertaining to the study as opposed to a quantitative study in which data is often presented in a numerical form, a qualitative study is able to provide in- depth information that may not be captured if the study is conducted using a quantitative approach. In the case of the given study, the use of a qualitative study was appropriate as the nature of the study was exploratory in nature. The researchers did not intend conduct the given study to formulate new theories or to validate findings of previous studies of a similar nature. In sum, the given study adequately addressed the research question with the use of a qualitative research design. The sampling method used in the study was a combination of convenience and snowball sampling. While the combination of convenience and snowball sampling could be a relatively easy and inexpensive sampling method, it may result in a unrepresentative sample and the result of the study may not be generalized to the larger population. To obtain a more representative sample size, probability sample methods such as stratified random sampling should be used instead.
A combination of focus group discussions and semi structured interviews were used as the research instruments in the study. While the use of focus group discussions could allow participants to building on other people’s ideas(Sommer, Ward, & Scofield, 2010), the use of such methods in a research could lead to group polarisation, where a person adopts a more extreme view that was adopted by the group. When group polarisation occurs, the reported views may not be a true reflection of the actual views of the members of the group, hence affecting the results of the study. Given the professional role of the researchers in the study and the close relationship they had with the participants, there may be a risk of researchers being subjected to interviewer bias. Interviewer bias may affect the interview process as the interpretation of the interviewee’s response maybe influenced the interviewer’s own beliefs and prejudices (Breakwell, Hammond, Fife-Schaw, & Smith, 2006). In addition, in the process of the analysis of the results, confirmation bias may affect the outcomes of the results as well. To ensure the validity of the data collected in the study, the researchers used reflective memos and peer debriefers during the coding of themes. The use of these two measures helped to ensure that the data collected was correctly interpreted. The variables of interest that are identified in the given study were the use of metaphors in fairy tale stories and self-reflection in counsellors in training during their clinical supervision. The use of metaphors in stories during clinical supervision is a form of reflective practice, a clinical supervision technique often used in the clinical supervision of counsellors. In clinical supervision, reflective practices require the supervisee to stay focused on the entire clinical supervision process, be aware and manage their emotions and possess those emotions and thoughts appropriately (Ward & House, 1998).
In a literature review conducted by Guiffrida, Jordan, Saiz and Barnes (2007), it was noted that the use of metaphors as a tool to facilitate clinical supervision and enabled the supervisees to gain better insight into their journey in becoming counsellors. This was substantiated by the findings in a qualitative study conducted by Wong-Wylie (2007), who found that participation in reflective tasks by counselling students facilitated reflective learning. The given study defined self-reflection on the basis of the constructs found in the Integrated Developmental Model (IDM) of supervision. Existing literature on self-reflection during clinical supervision of counsellors-in training have also identified other variables that contribute to self- reflection apart from those identified in the IDM model of supervision. For instance, the ability to integrate disparate complex thought processes into a coherent whole contributes to the level of self-reflection in clinical supervision(Griffith & Frieden, 2000). An alternative research method that would address the research objective would be in the form of an experimental study. The chosen research method is able to address the existing research question using a quantitative approach as the use of an experiment will help to determine if the manipulation of the independent variable, that is, using stories in the supervision of trainee counsellors will cause any significant changes on the dependent variable, the level of self-reflection in counsellors-in- training. Hence, the experimental approach is able to determine causality between the independent and dependent variable identified above. As with any experimental methods, there will be a treatment and control conditions. In this case, the treatment condition will be one where metaphors in stories are used in the supervision of counsellors-in-training, whereas in control condition, supervision of counsellors-in-training will be conducted without the use of metaphors found in stories. Participants will be randomly assigned to any of the two conditions to minimise the probability that the results occurred by chance.
The sample required for the study should consist of a representative proportion of counsellors-in-training from the various specialisations such as those specialising in school counselling or addiction counselling. In addition, the sample should comprise of a proportionate distribution of participants from the various ethnic groups and gender. The sample size for the study should be large enough for the researchers to obtain results that could be generalised to of the population of the study which in this case is counsellor-in-training nationwide. To determine if there were any significant differences in the dependent variable between the treatment condition and control condition, a questionnaire can be administered to the participants of the study after they had been subjected to one of the two conditions. The data can be collected through the use of quantitative measures such as likert scales. The survey questionnaire would measure constructs related to self- reflection that was specified in the given study: Motivation, Autonomy and self and other-awareness. These constructs can be measured using existing psychological scales. Motivation and autonomy can be measured using the Self-Determination Scale, while self-awareness can be measured using the Self-Consciousness Scale and other-awareness can be measured using the Hogan’s empathy scale. The Self Determination Scale is based on the Self Determination Theory (SDT) of motivation, which proposes that people are motivated to initiate their own course of action and that they strive to attain increased internal motivation and autonomy (Hefferon & Boniwell, 2011). The Self Determination Scale measures two constructs related to self- determination, self-contact and choicefulness through the use of a 10-item instrument (Sheldon, 1995).
The Self-Consciousness Scale is a 22 item psychological scale which is split into 3 subscales that measures various aspects of self-awareness: public, private and social consciousness (Scheier & Carver, 1985). Finally, Hogan’s empathy scale is a 64-item psychological scale that measures the amount of inclination of one’s awareness of other people’s thoughts and feelings(Hogan, 1969). Once the data is collected, the results obtained from the questionnaires can be analysed using statistical methods with the help of computerized statistical software such as SPSS. From the findings, the researchers will be able to determine if the manipulation of the independent variable resulted in a significant difference in the dependent variable. The findings of the study will be presented in the form a research paper to communicate the findings of the study to other people.