John Heron: there can be no participatory epistemology without mutuality

Below, John Heron reacts to the article, Participatory Perspectives on Counselling Research, by David Hiles, which we presented before.

John Heron:

“From my perspective a fundamental weakeness of the paper is that Hiles attends exclusively to the epistemic wing of participatory inquiry, that is, to the nature of a researcher’s participatory knowing, and not at all to the political wing – which is about how subjects (who are being participatively known by a researcher) participate in the researcher’s decision-making about research topic, about research method, and about research conclusions – all of which purport to generate knowledge about the subjects.

Hiles gives an example of his own methodology of NOI Analysis used for counselling research. In his example, the method yields an account of how the subject “participates in his own construction of self”. But the account is obtained by unilateral researcher post-session analysis of the subject’s recorded story, not by co-creative mutuality of dialogue between counsellor and client.

Unless counsellors who are researching counselling are prepared to relate to their clients as co-creative partners in the inquiry process, their use of unilateral participatory knowing may become as sterile as the old positivist methods.”

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