When therapists research clinical populations or situations from a qualitative research perspective, their task is different from when researchers conduct their own clinical qualitative studies. With researchers, the study at hand may be their first time "in the field." For researchers in this situation it is easier to use qualitative methods such as grounded theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) because there is a "tabula rasa" quality to this initial foray into the "unknown" as a theory from observations is constructed anew. In the case of the therapists-as-qualitative-researchers, clinicians already have made some sort of sense of "the other" by virtue of their previous experiences or exposures with the population or situation in question. Instead of constructing theories like their researcher colleagues, researching clinicians must face their previous constructions (i.e., sensemaking from experience), create methods which allow for deconstruction (i.e., sensemaking challenged), and then work towards building reconstructions (i.e., sensemaking remade) (Dervin, 1992; Duffy, 1995; Shields & Dervin, 1993; Weick, 1995). In this manner, the confidence that therapist-researchers have in their observations can be both rigorously challenged and bolstered. We present ways of undertaking this triadic approach to inquiry and sensemaking along with a conceptual tool from the presenters' work, "The Y of the How," will be offered as one way this approach to clinical research can be accomplished.
The authors would like to thank Estella Martinez for her help in creating the Y of the How graphic.
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Recommended APA Citation
Chenail, R. J., & Maione, P. V. (1997). Sensemaking in Clinical Qualitative Research. The Qualitative Report, 3(1), 1-10. https://doi.org/10.46743/2160-3715/1997.2030