The action–project method in counseling psychology
Action theory which addresses human intentional, goal-directed action, project, and career, provide the conceptual framework for the action–project method (APM). Action theory features are subsumed in a three-dimensional conceptual framework for the analysis of action: 1) the perspectives that one can take on action, 2) the levels at which action is organized, and 3) the systems of action (see Young et. al. 2005, Figure 1 – p, 216).
The three data sources that reflect the perspectives on action: 1) manifest behavior, 2) internal processes, and 3) social meaning are pertinent to units of analysis. Gathering data from all three sources permits researchers to construct rich, detailed descriptions of the nature and progress of goal-directed intentional behaviors, over time, with each data source contributing to the overall understanding. Gathering data about perspectives on action is critical, that is, an action–project study may use different data-gathering procedures but must draw on all three perspectives on action to gain an adequate understanding of a phenomenon.
For example, as mentioned, Jane reported intrapersonal difficulties with a fellow, subordinate, female co-worker. Using APM, a counsellor might refer to Jane’s Manifest behaviour-actions (avoiding conflict) as part of a Project (having people like me) and through conversation bring out the Internal processes (cognitive and emotional), that direct, guide and accompany her actions steps (say yes when she really means no), through joint actions, in attempts to accomplish her Goal. The Counsellor and client would then embark on their own joint project, which might be to help Jane create a new Goal (learn to say no), which could potenYoung, R.A., Valach, L., & Domene, J. (2005). The action–project method in counseling tially be achieved by challenging some of Jane’s internal processes. Then the counsellor might help Jane reinforce new action steps (manifest behaviour), such as assertive communication, in order to help her achieve her new goal and ultimately her new project (having heathier intra-personal relationship)
Young, R.A., Valach, L., & Domene, J. (2005). The action–project method in counseling psychology.
Journal of Counseling Psychology, 52(2), 215-223.