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Title: Personal Construction and Reconstruction of Meaning in a Changing Occupational World: An Exploratory Study of Mental Health Nursing Students from a Personal Construct Psychology Perspective
Author: Trenoweth, Steven.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3536 2835
Awarding Body: Thames Valley University
Current Institution: University of West London
Date of Award: 2008
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This study examines the construction and reconstruction of meanings that student mental health nurses attach to their socialisation and occupational experiences during their professional education. In so doing, it adopts a Personal Construct Psychology (PCP) approach to underpin its theory and methodology. This approach was chosen to explore the personal meanings which may be attached to events in one's world, and in so doing affords the collection ofquantitative and qualitative data. This study therefore utilises a multi-paradigm, mixed method approach to explore the construction and reconstruction ofmeanings that 20 student mental health nurses attach to themselves and their experiences during the first 2 years of the mental health nursing programme. In this study, 2 types ofinterviews were employed; a semi-structured interview affording content analyses to explore the meanings people use to interpret their contexts, experiences and situations; and a structured interview based around the elicitation ofconstructs, subsequently captured by RepGrids, which seek to explore the micro-processes ofpersonal meanings. The study is therefore concerned with the normative and nomothetic (as indicated by areas of commonality amongst participants), and the phenomenological and idiographic (as reported by individuals regarding their personal subjective experiences). The findings illustrate that there are some areas of commonality amongst participants in this study, suggesting that at each time sampling periods there were a number of themes and issues which were resonating with participants. In broad terms participants described moving from feeling uncertain, through to increasing awareness and understanding ofthemselves and others, and, ultimately, feeling more accomplished in relation to their occupational world. Most participants felt changed in terms of their occupational competency with some people feeling that they had changed as a person, and that their views of themselves, and in some cases their views oflife, had altered. Additionally, while there were individual differences in perceptions of social relationships over time, there was a tendency to describe an initial uncertainty and inadequacy in helping relationships that gave way, over time, to feeling an increasing part ofa team and an ability to initiate helping relationships. The overall findings suggest that personal change tends to reflect individual paths of development rather than a common socialisation effect. Moreover, people's constructions ofmeaning seem to be a dynamic process, influenced by the significance that an individual attaches to their experiences. That is, while participants were exposed to comparatively similar events in terms of theoretical and clinical/practical components ofthe programme, the meanings that they attributed to their experiences are seemingly varied. Such personal and individual differences are illustrated by the presentation ofthree case studies. The limitations ofthe study and the implications of the findings are explored. Overall, it is concluded that to meet the challenges ofmodem complex mental health care, there is a need to be able to respond to clinical uncertainty and ambiguity and how one might manage stress and personal anxiety surrounding uncertainty; to develop 'wisdom'; to consider how one might develop an understanding self and others; and the overall benefits ofa plurality of approaches to mental health nursing care. A discussion regarding the possible benefits ofpersonal constructivism for nurse education is undertaken along with suggestions as to how student mental health nurses may be supported to elaborate their constructions systems so as to be able to better predict, anticipate and make sense oftheir occupational world and respond meaningfully to the needs and wishes of their client group.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available