An interpretative phenomenological analysis of adults’ accounts of the lived experience of parental death in adolescence
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AbstractThis qualitative study aimed to hear the subjective lived experiences of adults who experienced parental death during adolescence in order to gain insight into how their experience has impacted them from adolescence to adulthood. The findings from this research endeavour to contribute to a theoretical understanding of this experience and highlight the clinical implications for Counselling Psychologists working with individuals who have experienced parental death during adolescence. An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was the methodological design used to facilitate an understanding of how participants make sense of their experience. Seven participants were recruited via a purposive snowball sampling method. Participants spoke about their experiences of parental death from adolescence to adulthood in 45-50-minute semi-structured telephone interviews which were then transcribed and analysed. The Findings illuminated the following four superordinate themes, Managing Emotions, Interpersonal Changes, Complex Grief and Positive Changes. Participants appeared to have an impaired ability to manage and regulate their emotions relying instead on maladaptive coping and defence mechanisms to attenuate their emotions. This could be attributed to their difficulties with grief expression, lack of support in both aiding their grief and helping the development of these regulatory skills. Emotional regulatory difficulties could also be symptomatic of their unique developmental period. Participants appear to exhibit an array of symptoms pertaining to the diagnosis of Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder (DSM-5, 2013) and Prolonged Grief Disorder (ICD-11r, 2018). Participants reported experiencing vast interpersonal changes and experienced subsequent attachment difficulties which were influenced by a range of developmental, psychological and psychosocial factors and stressors post parental death. Although indicators of growth were also apparent, the findings support the potential association of parental death in adolescence to ongoing developmental, psychological and psychosocial effects, from adolescence to adulthood. Implications for Counselling Psychologists’ clinical practice, training and consultancy have been addressed. How the humanistic and psychodynamic counselling framework addresses the needs of the individual parentally bereaved in adolescence are illuminated. Furthermore, a range of directive and non-directive therapeutic interventions and clinical suggestions have been recommended as Counselling Psychologists work in an integrative manner in line with the nuanced need of the individual client. Early intervention inclusive of a comprehensive complex grief assessment and a developmentally informed formulation is suggested. Psychological therapy to aid the development of emotional regulation skills is also suggested. Parent-child/Family therapy and a range of treatment and preventative initiatives and interventions across the education, health and community sector is recommended with both the bereaved individual and existing family.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the award of Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology.
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