What is the Theoretical Basis or Framework for this Study?
The article by Moore et al. (2020) focuses on the phenomenon of interpersonal stress for professional counselors. The theoretical basis of the study consists primarily of stress theory. Qualitative research on the feelings of emotional strain and pressure comprises the framework, particularly regarding the factors which contribute to occupational stress. Significant emphasis is put on the distinction between the concepts of personal and professional self within stress. Also, stress theory separates occupational stressors from occupational stress responses. All these vantage points allow the researchers to analyze the causes and the effect of occupational stress on counselors.
What Variables are Included in this Study?
The primary method of collecting data in this study revolved around interviews. Thirteen counselors of varying gender, ethnicity, age, and experience participated in two parts of the interviews. The questions were the same for each participant, thus making the interview questions the independent variable of this study. The respondents’ answers were the dependent variable, which provided the researchers with data on the phenomena of occupational stress for counselors.
How Are Variables Connected to the Theoretical Framework for the Study?
In order to ascertain how the emotional state of a person changes, it is necessary to alternate the causative elements. However, as measuring actual stress in working conditions is complex and not ethical, eliciting emotional response is not a viable option for data collection. Instead, the counselors utilized their knowledge of occupational stressors and stress responses in order to answer the interview questions. As a result, the professional competence of the participants ensures the connection of the variables to the framework of the study and their veracity.
To What Degree Does the author Operationalize the Variables?
The independent variable is operationalized in a limited way, as the questions remain the same regardless of the respondents’ responses. As for the dependent variables, the responses are analyzed via consensual qualitative research (CQR) data analysis. The authors define it as “a team effort that involves both individual coding and consensus-building during within-case analysis and cross-analysis between cases” (Moore et al., 2020, p. 127). Each member of the research team read, acquainted themselves with the responses, outlaid their own understanding, then discussed and reached a consensus on the common themes across all cases.
What Were the Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria for the Study?
As the study focused on occupational stress in a specific profession, the major exclusion criterion was the lack of professional experience in the sphere of counseling. If a potential participant had professional experience, there were four distinct inclusion criteria, which helped ascertain the suitability of the candidate. First, they had to work as counselors for ten consecutive years. Second, all of them were required to have an active license. Third, their educational background had to be affirmed with an advanced degree in counseling, although related fields were also permissible. Finally, the participant had to have stress experience originating in a counselor-client relationship.
What Sampling Methods did the Researchers Use?
The primary sampling technique in this study was snowball sampling. As there was no necessity to ensure the randomized population sample, using personal connections between the participants was a viable tool for the recruitment of volunteers. At the same time, the researchers wanted to maintain some degree of diversity, which would manifest in the differences in age, ethnicity, work experience, number of clients, and other distinguishing characteristics. Yet, all candidates were invited to participate in the study due to personal acquaintances.
Critique of Introduction
The authors use the introduction to familiarize the audience with the benefits of therapeutic relationships. They accentuate the role of counselors in the psychological healing and mental recuperation of clients. Then, the authors immediately quote previous research, which argues for the importance of skills of emotional self-control in the work of counselors. Such a rapid transition may create an impression that the researchers intend to showcase important skills necessary for counselors. Yet, then the authors quickly shift towards the clients as the sources of stress for the counselors. It is evident that the purpose of the study is to ascertain the reasons for the emergence of stress due to therapeutic relationships. However, it is confusing why they remove other factors from the equation entirely. It would have been more helpful if they had included the explanation for the emphasis on the client as a source of distress.
Critique of Methods
As stated earlier, the authors selected CQR data analysis to explore the counselors’ experience with stress. The authors chose this method because it allows to combine opinions of other professionals into a consensual understanding of the discussed problem. It can be stated that it is an appropriate methodology for this study, given the qualitative characteristic of the output data. Unlike quantitative data, interviewees’ responses cannot be processed via a computerized tool in their initial form. Therefore, the choice of the data analysis method is reasonable and justified. Similarly, there are few ways of evaluating stress and its causes in a scientific approach. Subsequently, the choice of interviews as the data collection tool is also appropriate.
Critique of Results
In the results section, the authors outlined four domains within the data, which are client characteristics, relationship dynamics, counselor response, and personal values. Eight participants also described feeling stressed by some particular counselor-client matches. Another frustrating factor was the lack of the clients’ efforts to make the therapeutic relationship work. Overall, the results of the study are clear, with one exception – it is not properly explained why and whose personal values influence the strength of the relationship.
Critique of Discussion
The authors state the importance of their study for a larger understanding of counseling issues and difficulties. However, it seems that the primary recommendation is increasing professional competence as they state that managing self-doubt is “a primary professional resource for counselors managing the relational demands of counseling” (Moore et al., 2020, p. 133). This idea does not seem to correspond with the study’s results, as they indicate the ability to separate professional self and personal self as the most important in controlling stress. This skill is not exclusive to the occupation of counselors, which may confuse the audience as to why professional competence is so important in preventing occupational stress.
Critique of Limitations
The authors are objective in describing the limitation of their study, as their notions are reasonable and justified. First, despite their intentions, they did not achieve the desired diversity. Of thirteen participants, only one was male, and three represented ethnic minorities. Second, they acknowledge that “most of the counselors included in this study held doctorates, which may not be reflective of master’s-level counselors’ experiences” (Moore et al., 2020, p. 132). Finally, the data provided by the participants was based on their memories of clients with who they had worked years before. As a result, their perception of the actual stress is distorted by the amount of time.
Critique of the Authors’ Writing Style
The main problem with the authors’ writing is the sudden shifts from one subject to another, which may confuse the audience. If a person is not familiar with the professional of counselors, they may think at first that the study is meant to critique the professional skills of the counselors instead of the origins of occupational stress. Aside from that, the writing is concise, dense, and not excessively long.
Moore, C. M., Andrews, S. E., & Parikh‐Foxx, S. (2020). “Meeting someone at the edge”: Counselors’ experiences of interpersonal stress. Journal of Counseling & Development, 98(2), 123-135. Web.