Personal experiences and processes in an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy group for stroke survivors: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Prof Doc Thesis

Starling, M. 2019. Personal experiences and processes in an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy group for stroke survivors: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsStarling, M.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

Rationale: The literature review examined the importance of group-based interventions as a vehicle for the process of change in acquired and traumatic brain injury populations. However, the existing literature lacks consistency and is limited in stroke populations with only one quantitative ACT group-based study evaluating effectiveness for post-stroke difficulties, with no qualitative research in this area. Research question: This thesis aims to address the existing gap by exploring stroke survivors’ experiences of interacting with each other in the ACT-based group. The current study aims to gain insight into individual perceptions on whether or not stroke survivors find it beneficial to be in the presence of other stroke survivors and how group processes and the ACT tools may support or hinder their recovery. Aims: This study aims to add to the scarce research dedicated to the stroke population, and to inform the clinical practice of Counselling Psychologists and other professionals when working with stroke populations. Method: Data gathered from eight semi-structured interviews was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA).
Findings: The collected data generated four master themes: “It is just so difficult”; Means to a connection; Restoring confidence and hope; and “Things won’t be the same”: moving towards acceptance. The master themes aim to encapsulate the participants’ views on what they found meaningful or challenging about being in the ACT group setting with other stroke survivors. The findings indicate the role of the group process to be of great value in measuring recovery progress and restoring self-esteem and self-agency. Furthermore, participants experienced apprehension at the start, throughout, and at the end of the group but this also formed part of the process of acceptance. The benefits of ACT tools in adjusting were reflected on, alongside the challenges in comprehending them. The findings of the current study are discussed in the context of group theory and research,and a suggestion for clinical practice is outlined, such as a need for homogeneous group structure, inclusion of significant others or time factors. The relevance to Counselling Psychology is outlined, followed by the strengths and limitations of the current study, and recommendations for further research.

PublisherUniversity of East London
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PrintMay 2019
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Deposited18 Nov 2019
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