Ethnography in counseling psychology research: Possibilities for application

  • Suzuki L
  • Mattis J
  • Ahluwalia M
 et al. 
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Abstract

The emphasis placed on prolonged engagement, fieldwork, and participant observation has prevented wide-scale use of ethnography in counseling psychology. This article provides a discussion of ethnog-raphy in terms of definition, process, and potential ethical dilemmas. The authors propose that ethno-graphically informed methods can enhance counseling psychology research conducted with multicultural communities and provide better avenues toward a contextual understanding of diversity as it relates to professional inquiry. Ethnography constitutes a major focus in the psychological literature; however, debates continue regarding the usage of these qualitative methods (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000a). Despite the fact that ethnographic methods fall within the purview of postpositiv-ism and constructivism–interpretivism frameworks, positivists, postpositivists, and postmodernists currently argue over the defi-nition of ethnography and criteria for evaluating ethnographic work. This article seeks to explore the meanings and manifesta-tions of ethnography, as well as the utility of these methods for counseling psychology. We begin with definitions of ethnography. Next, we delineate the various types of ethnography used in contemporary social science research. Third, we explore concrete strategies for conducting ethnographic research. Ethical concerns and practices to establish validity and trustworthiness are also highlighted. Finally, we provide a discussion of challenges and recommendations for future directions in the use of ethnographic methods in counseling psychology.

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