This paper argues that research approaches which are aimed at developing our understanding of psychotherapy which fail to address the client's interpretation of events will only provide a limited picture of its true nature. The discussion explores the philosophical underpinnings of research in this area through analysing contemporary debates and controversies. The difficulties of defining the term "psychotherapy" are acknowledged while highlighting the centrality of the concept of relationship in current definitions. The question "What is psychotherapy?" is further addressed by offering a brief overview of the theoretical assumptions which influence some current approaches to clinical work. Attention is also given to previous research in psychotherapy which focuses on the client's perspective. This is followed by a discussion of the importance of researching psychotherapy from a range of ontological perspectives based on a critique of the limiting nature of current approaches. A theoretical account of the importance of the clients' perspective is also presented, concluding with an argument for the conduct of research which is more relevant to psychotherapy practice.

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