Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis Dissertation Abstract

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Research suggests that little is known about the experiences of adoptive parents, particularly adoptive mothers, who are seen to be a hidden population within the academic literature. This study explores the experiences of nine adoptive mothers living in a small unitary authority in the UK. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect data, which was then analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Three superordinate themes emerged from the data: ‘Becoming ‘Mum’’, ‘The Melting Pot of Emotion’, ‘Social Stigma of Adoption’. Demonstrating the complexity and diversity of the women’s experience, three less common themes were also identified: ‘Fragility of Adoption’, ‘The Reward of Adoption’, ‘The Child Mediating the Experience’. The women’s experience conveys the overwhelming nature of adoptive motherhood, and supports the notion of adoptive motherhood as a multifaceted social phenomenon. A parallel between these findings and the motherhood literature is seen, with the feminist discourse of society emerging from the women’s interviews. Of particular interest is the influence of psychological theory and the perceived continued social stigma on the experiences of adoptive mothers. It is argued that the insights the study provides are important for the professional practice of Educational Psychologists and Adoption Services, and future areas for exploration are suggested.

McDermott, Laura (2016) An interpretative phenomenological analysis of the lived experience of suicidal behaviour. D Clin Psy thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Background: In Scotland, suicide prevention is a major public health challenge, with two people, on average, dying every day due to suicide. Any efforts to prevent suicide should be aided by research. Existing research on suicide is dominated by quantitative research that has largely focused on providing explanatory accounts of suicidal phenomena. Research providing rich and detailed accounts of suicidal behaviour among individuals who have directly experienced it is growing but remains relatively embryonic. This study sought to supplement existing understanding of attempted suicide specifically by exploring the processes, meaning and context of suicidal experiences among individuals with a history of attempted suicide. Methods: The study used a retrospective qualitative design with semi-structured in-depth interviews. Participants were patients (n=7) from a community mental health service in Glasgow, Scotland who had attempted suicide within the previous 12-month period. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and were analysed for recurrent themes using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Results: Three super-ordinate themes, each with inter-related sub-themes, emerged from the analysis. 1) “Intentions”: This theme explored different motives for suicide, including providing relief from upsetting feelings; a way of establishing control; and a means of communicating with others. 2) “The Suicidal Journey”: This theme explored how individuals’ thinking can change when they are suicidal, including feeling overwhelmed by a build-up of distress and a narrowing of their perspective. 3) “Suicidal Dissonance”: This theme explored how people can feel conflicted about suicide and can be fearful of the consequences of their suicidal behaviour. Conclusion: Participants’ accounts were dominated by experience of significant adversity and psychological suffering. These accounts provided valuable insights into the suicidal process, highlighting implications for clinical practice and future research.

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