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An interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) investigation of positive psychological change (PPC), including post traumatic growth (PTG)

Blore, David Charles (2012)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Positive Psychological Change (PPC) following trauma is a developing field for which there is no standard terminology. The plethora of labels, of which Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) is probably the most common descriptor, arguably masks a significant gap in clinical and theoretical understanding of the phenomenon. One specific gap addressed by this study is PPC following psychological trauma stemming from a Road Traffic Accident (RTA) in which the person involved has subsequently received Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing (EMDR).

To investigate this gap in knowledge, an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) approach was used and twelve participants recruited via a snowball sampling method. The participants were then interviewed using a Semi-structured Interview Questionnaire (SSIQ) and the interviews were then transcribed for IPA analysis. Key themes that emerged included Navigational Struggle (NS) to describe Negative Psychological Change (NPC), and Network Growth (NG), to describe PPC. At any one post-RTA/EMDR point there was a preponderance of one over the other, however, NS and NG were inseparable and found to co-exist along an NS-NG continuum. In addition, Figurative Language Use (FLU) had a significant role in both NS and NG yet was independent of both and apparently driving change towards the development of NG. Whilst NS and NG were both post-trauma phenomena, FLU seemed to hallmark expansion of memory networks as part of a general maturation process post-RTA. Furthermore, there was evidence that participants were incorporating their traumatic experiences via FLU into the rebuilding of their assumptive worlds.

To account for these findings, an extension to Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) – the theory widely accepted to underpin EMDR - is proposed based upon a hypothesised Plasticity of Meaning (PoM), which is observable through FLU. PoM predicts which, why and how memory networks connect resulting in the adaptive processing predicted by AIP. The study’s findings are re-examined in terms of consequential modifications to the clinical use of EMDR. Extensive suggestions for further research are provided.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Farrell, Derek and Clifford, Collette
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
Department:School of Health and Population Sciences
Subjects:BF Psychology
RA Public aspects of medicine
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:3328
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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