Exploring Human Action in Counseling Psychology: The Action-Project Research Method

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Qualitative research in counseling psychology in the last 2 decades has been characterized by the introduction and use of a range of methods and corresponding paradigms and conceptual frameworks. The action-project research method, described and updated in this article, is based on an understanding of human action as goal-directed and enacted in context: contextual action theory. We summarize this framework, prior to describing the method's procedures for conceptualizing research problems and questions, collecting and analyzing data from dyads of participants, and presenting research findings. We also discuss recent adaptations to the procedures and how the method addresses core issues in counseling psychology; that is, methodological integrity, culture, ethics, and power. We proceed to describe how the method relates to other qualitative methods and the kinds of research questions asked by the discipline and how the action-project method connects to professional practice issues.
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