Dr. Stephen Coulter to Study ‘Mother’s Narratives of Trauma’.

19 Sep

Dr Stephen Coulter has been awarded a grant from the British Academy to conduct an study to explore how mothers in families seeking professional help narrate the impact of a traumatic event that has involved a member (or members) of their family, prior to the influence of professional therapeutic intervention.

It can be argued that the experience of trauma has been over-medicalised and reduced to a relatively narrow set of ‘symptoms’ associated with diagnostic categories such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  This pathological conceptualisation strongly influences mental health professionals’ interventions with victims/survivors of trauma, which then have the potential to obscure important dimensions of the phenomenological experience of being traumatised that are significant to the victim/survivors and their families. Therefore, it is important, to listen to people’s accounts of the impact of traumatic events to achieve a baseline in order to better understand this population and thus plan appropriate professional interventions.

As a first step, this study will ask mothers about the impact of trauma on them and their families using ‘Narrative Interviewing’ methodology. The interviews will be transcribed and analysed thematically sentence by sentence, for (a) inductive themes derived from the literature including; practical reorganisation, changes in individuals thinking /behaviour (symptoms), changes in relationships, ways of coping and making sense (meaning) of the experience and (b) emerging themes and (c) co-occurrence of terms/concepts.

This study will enable the researcher to elucidate a range of practical, psychological and relational adjustment processes in families who have been traumatised, providing insight into the multifaceted impact of trauma in families seeking professional help.  It has the potential to raise multiple areas for further research, and to inform the response of social care professionals to traumatised families.



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