Qualitative Analysis of a Phenomenon: Perceived Efficiency of Group Creative Arts Therapy for At-risk Youths
Working as a youth therapist in the People Who Care center, I have been repeatedly exposed to different therapeutic outcomes resulting from individual versus group therapy. Some at-risk youths find it problematic to undergo therapy in groups, while other benefit from group therapy much more than from individual sessions. Empirical findings are unanimous about the benefit of group creative arts therapy for at-risk youths (Camilleri, 2007; Steele, 2001), so I am interested in finding out my clients’ perceptions, opinions, and attitudes about the potential of participating in group creative arts therapy. In regard to the study sample, I would like to recruit 5-7 at-risk youths during my individual therapy sessions. Holloway and Wheeler (2013) pointed out that small samples are sufficient for an in-depth qualitative inquiry, so I believe this sample will be enough to gain an initial insight into the phenomenon of my interest. I am going to apply the convenience sampling strategy because of access to at-risk youths seeking therapy in my youth center.
Quantitative research envisions reality as objective and single, while qualitative research approaches reality as socially constructed, that is, subjective and individual for everyone. Thus, qualitative epistemology is more suitable for my inquiry as I am interested in uncovering individual, subjective perceptions of my clients about the value and meaning they attach to group creative arts therapy.
Quantitative studies examine cause-and-effect relationships between quantifiable variables, while qualitative research focuses on individuals’ lived experience interpretation. In my study, I would like to interpret value and meaning at-risk youths associate with group creative arts therapy on the basis of their life experiences and subjective opinions. Focusing on a small sample of at-risk youths, I will get a rich and deep dataset for analysis of youths’ perceptions about this type of therapy and potential benefit they see in it for themselves, which is impossible with such a small sample via a quantitative inquiry.
Quantitative research works primarily with data that can be quantified; however, individuals’ attitudes and perceptions towards an object are very hard to quantify. Therefore, I am going to employ in-depth semi-structured interviewing as the best method for eliciting qualitative data from my sample. After the exploratory qualitative study interviewing at-risk youths about their attitudes and opinions, I can potentially expand my qualitative insight into the phenomenon of interest by adding observations and field notes from actual group creative arts therapy sessions. Such data will enable me to triangulate my findings from face-to-face interview results evaluating students’ perceptions and opinions with actual therapeutic outcomes for these participants.
I am planning the study with the typically qualitative emphasis on discovering meaning – the meaning of group creative arts therapy for each of my respondents. Since reality is socially constructed, I am interested in understanding how each of my client’s social construction of reality affects their perceived value of group therapy and their attitudes to this therapeutic approach in relation to their specific situation.
As I already noted above, I am planning to work with a small sample of clients, 5-7 persons, since a small sample is not a barrier to a high-quality qualitative study. What is more, it is an advantage giving a chance to gain in-depth insights about the unique situation of interest – perceived value of group creative arts therapy for a specific set of respondents in a specific youth center. The sample will be collected with the help of a convenience sampling method because I work as a therapist in that center and have access to respondents of interest.
Typically for qualitative research, I am planning to analyze data continuously, starting with the interviewing process. Since I have selected a semi-structured interview method, I should analyze and interpret respondents’ answers and select the direction for further flow of the interview based on those responses. After the initial analysis is completed and the interview dataset of organized, I will employ interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) as a guiding analytical framework; it is a favorable choice for an exploratory study, able to give insights and generate hypotheses about an under-researched phenomenon (Ayers, Baum, & McManus, 2007).
Unfortunately, qualitative research possesses low generalizability because it is mostly applicable to the sample and setting of this study; however, replicating this study in other settings may improve its transferability. The issue of truth value (credibility) is addressed well because I am a therapist, I will work with my clients, and will research perceptions about a certain therapy type. Confirmability and dependability of the study will be ensured by further testing of findings through implementation of group creative arts therapy and replication of the study in other research settings, while
Ayers, S., Baum, A., McManus, C., Newman, S., Wallston, K., Weinman, J., & West, R. (2007). Cambridge handbook of psychology, health and medicine. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Camilleri, V. (2007). Healing the inner city child: Creative arts therapies with at-risk youth. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Holloway, I., & Wheeler, S. (2013). Qualitative research in nursing and healthcare. (3rd ed.). Ames, IA: John Wiley & Sons.
Steele, M. (2001). Helping at-risk students: A group counseling approach for grades 6-9. Canadian Child & Adolescence Psychiatry Review, 12(2), 47-48.