Qualitative Research

Qualitative Research

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Walden University



Qualitative Research

Different time series deigns can be used in qualitative counseling research. They include simple phase or AB design, follow-up or ABA design, withdrawal-reversal or ABAB design, combined simple phase change or ABAC design and the multiple-baseline design. Combined simple phase change is an extension of simple phase, which involves comparisons of behavioral change under different interventions. Just like any other time series research model, the combined simple phase change design has its advantages and disadvantages. Most case studies, which involve multiple treatments or interventions, tend to use this design in during research.


A Case Study of Behavioral Assessment and Treatment of Insect Phobia was a research conducted with the aim of assessing the impact insect phobia had on a person’s behavior (Jones, 1999). The subject’s academic performance was affected by his phobia for insects such as spiders and crickets. The speeds of math calculations across three different settings were used as dependant measures. Multielement, also known as the combined simple phase change design used an A-B-BC-A-BC model to assess the three different settings and the impact of the treatment on the subject’s condition. In this case, graduated exposure and reinforcement were used as treatments for insect phobia

The settings included bugs, say bugs and no bugs. In the first environment, crickets were placed in the classroom. In the second setting, all crickets were removed from the room but the student was told that the insects were in the classroom. In the third setting, all crickets were removed from the room and the student was informed of their absence. During the first nine sessions, the researchers recorded the subject’s initial condition before the treatment. The information served as the first phase, and provided baseline data. During the second phase, gradual exposure was introduced as treatment. A decreasing trend in the subject’s math calculation speed was recorded forcing the researchers to alter the treatment.

During the third phase, the researcher introduced reinforcements into the gradual exposure treatment. The student was awarded points for each correct calculation under the same settings. A sharp increase in speed and number of correct calculations was noted after the introduction of reinforcements. During the fourth phase, the researchers recorded the mean of correct calculations across settings. This data served as the new baseline data for the next phase. Finally, during the fifth phase, a follow-up of the gradual exposure plus reinforcement treatment was carried out. The researchers noticed an increasing trend in the number of correct calculations.

Strengths and Limitations

Combined simple phase change design has a few strengths. It allows for changes or withdrawal of an intervention (Barlow, Nock, & Hersen, 2009). As noted above, the researchers were able to introduce reinforcement during phase three. In addition, this design requires fewer resources in terms of time and money and provides a clear relationship between intervention and behavior (Barlow, Nock, & Hersen, 2009). Conversely, this model has limitations. According to Sheperis, Young and Daniels (2010), the major limitation of the combined simple phase change design is that it lack generality, since it ignores that fact that other factors might influence the outcome of a study.


Despite its limitation, the combined simple phase change design has strengths that proved very resourceful to the researchers. It allowed them to alter the treatment and perform follow-ups. Combined simple phase change design is less strenuous compared to heterogeneous and multiple designs. Furthermore, it is the best design to be used for cases with multiple treatments and interventions because it allows for comparison. Researchers are able to rate treatments and select the most effective intervention before proceeding to the follow-up phase.




Barlow, D. H., Nock, M., & Hersen, M. (2009). Single case experimental designs: Strategies for studying behavior for change. Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.

Jones, K. M., (1999). A Case Study of Behavioral Assessment and Treatment of Insect Phobia Clinical Case Studies. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 32, 95-98. Retrieved from http://www.scepticthomas.com/fear/CaseStudyInsectPhobia.pdf

Sheperis, C., Young, J. S., & Daniels, M. H. (2010). Counseling research: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. Boston: Pearson.


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