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

Blore, David Charles (2012). An interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) investigation of positive psychological change (PPC), including post traumatic growth (PTG). University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


Download (1MB)


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: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Medical & Dental Sciences
School or Department: Institute of Applied Health Research
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine


Request a Correction Request a Correction
View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year