A Diary-Based, Cross-Contextual Case Study Methodology: Background for the Case of "Jane and Joe"


  • Thomas Mackrill University of Aarhus




psychotherapy, counseling, diaries, adult children, everyday life, cross-context theory, phenomenology, sense of agency, case studies, clinical case studies


This paper describes the epistemological, theoretical, and methodological background and context of the therapy case study, “The Case of 'Jane and Joe': A Diary-Based, Cross-Contextual Case Study" (Mackrill, 2011). The “Jane and Joe” case study served as the “raw data” of a “jury trial model” analysis, also published in this journal by Bohart, Tallman, Byock, and Mackrill (2011). The Joe and Jane case study is one of eight researched as a series with a method inspired by postmodern-oriented movements in phenomenology, post-positivism, hermeneutics, social constructionism, and action research. Specifically, the method used in analyzing the Jane and Joe case study involved the client (Jane) and therapist (Joe) following a set of diary writing guidelines for a series of 10 therapy sessions, which were audio-recorded. The therapist wrote about his experience of the sessions, and the client wrote both about her experience of the sessions, and about her new and different experiences between sessions. After the 10 sessions were competed, Joe and Jane exchanged diaries at the end of the eleventh session, and the twelfth session was dedicated to responding to the experience of reading each other’s diaries. The diaries and recordings were then passed on to me as the researcher for analysis. My draft analysis of the Jane and Joe case study was next sent to Jane and Joe for comment so misinterpretations could be corrected. Jane and Joe’s amendments were then incorporated into the final case study, which is published in this journal (Mackrill, 2011).  The analysis of the audio recordings and the diaries followed a systematic series of procedures within a particular theoretical framework. The framework has three major dimensions: (a) a postmodern emphasis on the patient and therapist's experiences and phenomenology as they dynamically interact with one another (McLeod, 2010); (b) a postmodern emphasis on the development of the client's sense of agency during the therapeutic process; and (c) in line with Dreier's (2008) theory of cross-contextual influences, an emphasis on the importance of cross-contextual transactions between the client's experience inside and outside of therapy during the time of the therapy.

Author Biography

Thomas Mackrill, University of Aarhus

Tan Fishman, Ph.D. Editor-in-Chief, Pragmatic Case Studies in Psychotherapy Professor of Clinical and Organizational Psychology Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology Rutgers University Mailing address: 57 Jaffray Court Irvington, NY 10533 914-693-8549 fax: 603-917-2567 email: dfish96198@aol.com




How to Cite

Mackrill, T. (2011). A Diary-Based, Cross-Contextual Case Study Methodology: Background for the Case of "Jane and Joe". Pragmatic Case Studies in Psychotherapy, 7(1), 156–186. https://doi.org/10.14713/pcsp.v7i1.1077