ΨΥΧΟΛΟΓΙΚΗ ΕΤΑΙΡΕΙΑ ΒΟΡΕΙΟΥ ΕΛΛΑΔΟΣ - PSEVE

 
 

Hellenic Journal of Psychology 
 Psychological Society of Northern Greece


VOLUME 5, ISSUE 1 INFORMATION



HELLENIC JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGY
ΙSSN 1790-1391


Edited three times a year by the Psychological Society of Northern Greece (PSNG)
Volume 5, Issue 1, 2008

Legally responsible:
George Grouios, President of the Psychological Society of Northern Greece
George Grouios, Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 541 24 Thessaloniki, Greece. Phone: +30-2310-992177; E-mail: ggrouios@phed.auth.gr


Editors
Editor-in-Chief:  Anastasia Efklides Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Associate Editors: Maria Dikaiou
Angeliki Leondari
Georgios D. Sideridis
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece
University of Crete, Rethymno, Greece
Assistant Editors: Irini Dermitzaki
Mary H. Kosmidis
Filippos Vlachos
Plousia Misailidi
Pagona Roussi
University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece
University of Ioannina, Greece
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Guest Editors of the Special Section Eugenie Georgaca &
Evrinomy Avdi 
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece



Editorial Board

Anastasia Efklides
George Grouios
Shulamith Kreitler
Diomedes Markoulis
Robert Neimeyer
Markku Niemivirta
Jose M. Prieto
Wolfgang Schnotz 
Yannis Theodorakis
Maria Tzouriadou
Marja Vauras
Marcel Veenman
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
Tel-Aviv University, Israel
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
University of Memphis, USA
University of Helsinki, Finland
Complutense University, Madrid, Spain
University of Koblenz-Landau, Landau, Germany
University of Thessaly, Volos, Greece
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece
University of Turku, Finland
University of Leiden, The Netherlands


Publisher:
ELLINIKA GRAMMATA: Emm. Benaki 59, 106 81 Athens, Greece
Τel: ++30-210-3891800 - Fax: ++30-210-3836658
Bookstore: Zood. Pigis 21 & Tzavela 1, 106 81 Athens, Greece

© Copyright 2008: Psychological Society of Northern Greece (PSNG)
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) for commercial purposes without the written permission of the copyright owners. Manuscripts submitted to the journal in no case are returned back


Volume 5, Issue 1, 2008    


HELLENIC JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGY
Founded 2004






SPECIAL SECTION:

QUALITATIVE RESEARCH IN PSYCHOLOGY

Guest Editors: Eugenie Georgaca and Evrinomy Avdi 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ELLINIKA GRAMMATA


 

CONTENTS


Prologue
           Eugenie Georgaca & Evrinomy Avdi...............................................................................VII

Ουσιοεξάρτηση, ταυτότητα και φύλο: Αφηγηματική μελέτη μιας περίπτωσης
          
Ζαχαρούλα Κασσέρη & Ευρυνόμη Αυδή............................................................................1
[Addiction, identity and gender: A narrative case study
           Zacharoula Kasseri & Evrinomy Avdi]...............................................................................1

Silent minority: Exploring gay and bisexual men’s accounts of
learning and teaching in British psychology university departments
          Ian Hodges & Carol Pearson..........................................................................................33

Ανάλυση λόγου και ψυχοθεραπεία: Εξετάζοντας το ρόλο του θεραπευτή
          Ευρυνόμη Αυδή...........................................................................................................58
[Discourse analysis and psychotherapy: Examining the therapist’s role
          Evrinomy Avdi]...........................................................................................................58

Αναδεικνύοντας το ρόλο των κοινωνικοπολιτισμικών συστημάτων
λόγου στον ψυχικό πόνο:
Η συμβολή της ποιοτικής έρευνας της ψυχοθεραπείας
           Ευγενία Γεωργάκα......................................................................................................78 
[Highlighting the role of sociocultural discourses in mental distress:
The contribution of qualitative psychotherapy research
          Eugenie Georgaca]......................................................................................................78

Critical psychology: Four theses and seven misconceptions
          Ian Parker & Erica Burman............................................................................................99

 


Hellenic Journal of Psychology, Vol. 5 (2008), pp. vii-x

 
 

PROLOGUE

 


This special issue, entitled Qualitative research in psychology, is concerned with the role of qualitative re-search in psychology as a discipline and in its associated practices. Different qualitative methods rely on different theoretical and epistemological assumptions and focus on different aspects of the issues under study. In this special issue, we aim to highlight this diversity that characterises qualitative approaches and to explore the particular contribution these can make to psychological knowledge and practice.
     More specifically, we can differentiate qualitative approaches as regards their analytic focus and aims. On the one hand, methods such as narrative analysis, thematic analysis and grounded theory aim to explore participants’ subjective experience; they are, therefore, appropriate to ‘give voice’ to groups that have traditionally been ignored or marginalised. The first two papers in this issue are examples of this line of research. More specifically, the paper by Z. Kasseri and E. Avdi on the experience of women substance abusers, discusses how psychological research has tended to either completely ignore gender differences, by assuming that the conclusions drawn from research with male substance abusers are applicable to women, or to pathologise women, when focusing on them. The study presented draws on the narrative analysis of auto-biographical interviews with women substance abusers. It provides an example of research that focuses on the experience of a marginalised group and at the same time locates this experience in the context of socio-cultural views regarding gender and femininity.
     In the second paper, I. Hodges and C. Pearson present a thematic analysis, conducted following grounded theory principles and informed by social constructionism, of interviews with homosexual men who study psychology. The study explores participants’ views regarding how psychology as a discipline approaches issues relating to sexuality as well as their experiences of studying in university psychology departments. The paper argues that it is very important to study this group of students, given the discrimination and the marginalisation they experience, as well as the role that psychology, as a discipline, plays in this.
     On the other hand, methods that draw from social constructionism, such as discourse analysis, focus on how human experience and human practices are imbued by dominant discourses and embedded in them. Such methods are, therefore, more appropriate for deconstructing systems of knowledge and institutional practices. Examples of this line of research are the papers by E. Avdi and by E. Georgaca, which form part of a wider review of qualitative research in psychotherapy. The first paper focuses on how contemporary discourse analytic studies of psychotherapy problematise the therapist’s role from a social constructionist perspective, whereas the second examines the ways in which clients formulate the issues that bring them to therapy, a focus that inevitably brings to the fore both the implication of culturally available systems of understanding and the role of expert discourses in shaping client difficulties. Both papers aim to shift the emphasis of research on human distress from an intrapersonal to the interpersonal and social levels as well as to the professional practices developed to deal with it.
     The above papers all start from a point of dissatisfaction with traditional psychological research. We will briefly refer to the main aspects of this position of discontent and to the arguments that have been developed in relation to the contribution that qualitative methodologies can make, as an alternative, to developing theory and practice. One sore point, shared by many qualitative researchers, is that traditional forms of knowledge and conventional research tend to generalize and to locate ‘subjects’ and their experience into predetermined categories, which are almost always defined by the researcher. This, in turn, can have the following adverse consequences: (a) aspects of the experience of specific groups are silenced and marginalised (such as sexuality and, in particular, homosexual men’s sexuality, as demonstrated by Hodges and Pearson in their study), (b) whole populations may be overlooked (such as women substance abusers, as argued by Kasseri and Avdi), and (c) aspects of experience that do not fit the pre-determined categories may end up being pathologised.
     In contrast to this, qualitative scholars have argued that the various qualitative methodologies offer researchers the opportunity to maintain an open-ended and discovery-oriented approach towards the phenomenon they study and the participants they work with. This allows the differentness and diversity of distinct groups to be acknowledged and studied, and encourages a broadening of the topics examined. In this way, the knowledge produced is likely to be closer to the needs and the lives of the research participants. A clear example of this type of opening to the ‘voice’ of a group that is usually marginalised is the paper by Kasseri and Avdi, which argues for the need to examine the role of gender in relation to substance abuse. In addition, in the same paper, issues are highlighted that go beyond the usual narrow focus on motherhood of traditional research; these relate to participants’ subjective experience and to the meanings that participants give to that experience, in relation for example to sexuality and gender identity.
     In a similar vein, Hodges and Pearson highlight the importance of focusing on groups that are usually ‘invisible’ to psychological research, in order both for their experience to be ‘heard’ and for the specific challenges they place on dominant institutions to be acknowledged and acted upon. More specifically, the authors argue that university psychology teaching in the UK, through silencing issues that relate to sexuality, supports the implicit assumption of heteronormativity, with the effect of excluding homosexual students from knowledge as well as alienating them from their educational, social and personal environment. More-over, the need for change at an institutional level is also highlighted, both with regard to psychology as a discipline that produces specific forms of knowledge, silences homosexuality and, therefore, acts in an oppressive manner towards homosexual students, and with regard to the university as an institutional space that excludes homosexual students at various levels.
    Another point of critique of traditional psychological knowledge, from a qualitative research perspective, relates to the tendency of conventional research to overlook the role of socio-cultural and institutional factors in human affairs. In contrast to this, qualitative methods, and in particular these that rely on social constructionism, focus on the socio-cultural context and on its contribution to the ways in which psychological difficulties are defined, understood and addressed. This is a tendency that can be discerned in all the papers in this special issue, but due to space limitations, we will only refer to Georgaca’s paper, that ex-amines the role of dominant discourses in understanding and experiencing mental distress. The author argues that if we, as researchers and/or clinicians, ignore the socio-cultural context of meanings that frame the experience and the management of mental distress, it is very likely that we will end up reproducing existing structures of power and inequality, thus rendering psychotherapy a limiting practice of social control.
     Finally, qualitative methodologies are also concerned with the role of institutions and their associated practices. This is another issue touched upon by the papers in this special issue, given that they refer to the connection between the production of alternative psychological knowledge(s) and the development of a multitude of psychological practices that apply the knowledge produced to specific groups (e.g., women substance abusers), the way in which psychology as a discipline is conceptualised and taught and, finally, the theory and practice of psychotherapy. The paper by E. Avdi provides an example of the usefulness of discourse analysis in highlighting the role of psychology as an institution that promotes specific discourses, specific subject positions and specific practices and types of relations between the therapist and service ‘us-ers’.
     This dissatisfaction with conventional forms of psychological research and practice and the attempt to develop alternative approaches to theory, research and practice also characterises the contemporary trend of critical psychology. The last paper by I. Parker and E. Burman sets the context of the qualitative approaches included in this special issue, through discussing the principles of critical psychology. As the authors point out, critical psychology and qualitative methodology are not synonymous. However, they are inextricably linked, both in the sense that critical psychology has offered a starting point for the development of qualitative methodologies and in the sense that qualitative research has made possible the production of forms of knowledge that expand the field of traditional psychology in a more critical direction. Al-though it is widely accepted that not all qualitative studies take a critical stance, all the studies in this special issue adopt a critical position.
     In summary, in this special issue we argue that qualitative methodologies can contribute significantly to the development of psychological knowledge(s) and practices that can have a positive impact on the lives of the populations concerned. On the other hand, we do not believe that qualitative methodologies can in themselves provide answers to the many dilemmas and conflicts –theoretical, ideological and practical– that we need to address, as researchers, in our effort to promote a more socially ethical and just science and practice. We do, however, believe that the development of qualitative research approaches is a step in this direction.

 

Thessaloniki, May, 2007

The Guest Editors

Eugenie Georgaca and Evrinomy Avdi
Lecturers

Note: We would like to thank Professor Anastasia Efklides for this special issue, as well as the contributing authors and referees.

Address: Eugenie Georgaca, School of Psychology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 541 24 Thessaloniki, Greece. E-mail: georgaca@psy.auth.gr
Address: Evrinomy Avdi, School of Psychology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 541 24 Thessaloniki, Greece. E-mail: avdie@psy.auth.gr