This proposed MSc in Integrative Counselling and Psychotherapy Research is designed to place research at the heart of psychotherapy practice. This Masters is for accredited counsellors and psychotherapists to continue to explore their passion for psychotherapy and for change and transformation in their clients, underpinned by effective research. The programme is based on the fundamental philosophy of how an integrative psychotherapy framework for ethical practice includes the training, practice, supervision, personal process and research endeavours of TPI students and staff, and how they all are interwoven through the shared process of the research journey. Humanistic integrative psychotherapy is at the core of this new Masters programme: the fundamental philosophy is person-centred and relational, and is founded on the conviction that a person can heal themselves if they choose to engage with an empathically attuned psychotherapist, through the therapeutic relationship.
At TPI we do not teach one particular model of integration, but rather support our students in the process of integration itself. This approach to integration cultivates an ability to communicate through different modalities, and to have an openness and curiosity about the essential elements in any therapeutic process. Cognisant of the socio-political, cultural and historical environment in which we live, the TPI integrative approach proposes an open and fluid framework in which the practitioner-researcher becomes aware of the importance of subjectivity, reflexivity, their own life and experience, and their own worldview; and how that necessarily affects how they interact in the world.
Learning how to use oneself creatively and effectively as a therapist in clinical practice is familiar to accredited counsellors and psychotherapists: now here is the opportunity to use oneself similarly in practice-based research. As in the therapeutic encounter, such research encourages us to consider the choices we make in our interventions with our clients in more detail. This is real world research, and reflexive awareness helps us keep an open mind, aware of our potential blind spots and biases.
The central importance of research to psychotherapy practice must be underlined in this context. Engaging in research supports and allows for all of the following:
• the development of informed critical appraisal of current evidencebased literature to determine its usefulness to practice and to broaden and develop the knowledge base of up-to-date theoretical and practice development;
• using quantitative and qualitative methodologies in practice-based research to determine what is significant, helpful and unhelpful for our clients;
• to support reconstructing and developing personal therapeutic practice through research which challenges therapists to document and describe practice in terms of, for example, the therapy process and outcome monitoring; and to support evaluation of psychotherapy practice, whether that is in a service or private practice context.
MSc candidates will have the opportunity to collaborate in class with other accredited counsellors and psychotherapists to creatively engage, critique and conduct research which will be grounded in their own life experience and practice. Research in this context, where it is an integrated part of an overarching philosophical framework and approach to psychotherapy will provide valuable opportunities to enrich the understanding of the therapeutic process and will inform therapeutic clinical practice.
In this way, the transformative potential inherent in conducting research, which is from the heart and soul of the practitioner-researcher, will be facilitated by dedicated and passionate teachers who are co-researchers joining their students on the research journey.