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Title: A qualitative investigation into the experience of parenting with a severe mental illness
Author: Murphy, Rebecca
ISNI:       0000 0004 2718 0427
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis explores the experience of parenting with severe mental illness, using qualitative methodologies. It is presented in three parts: a literature review, a report of the empirical research, and a critical reflection of the process undertaken. The literature review provides both a systematic review of qualitative studies exploring the experience of parenting with a severe mental illness (SMI), and a meta-synthesis of the findings from the included studies. The findings demonstrated six overarching themes that were central to the parents' experience. The themes were interlinked and often conflictual in nature and a model of the relationship between the themes is provided. The synthesis revealed how the additional and conflicting pressures faced by parents with SMI can interact with their symptoms to affect parenting behaviours and decisions about engagement with services. The model of themes elicited by the synthesis provides a broad conceptual framework in which parenting with SMI can be considered across the age range of children, parental symptoms and parenting roles. The empirical research provides a specific focus on the views and experiences of parents with Bipolar Disorder (BD). Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to explore the lived experience of parenting with BD, to provide insight into the parents' perspective and the influence that this may have on outcomes for parents as well as their children. The analysis resulted in six overarching themes, each of which consisted of a number of sub-themes. There were important interactions between the themes and these are illustrated for the reader. It was found that the parents identified a number of challenges in being a parent with BD and experienced feelings of inadequacy, guilt and worry relating to the impact that their illness had on their children and family. Strategies for managing these feelings and limiting the impact of BD could have an inadvertent negative effect on their own well-being, and that of their child. Learning to accept their diagnosis and developing strategies for managing their symptoms were crucial for positive parenting, although the changing needs of their children often presented new challenges. Contextual factors, including the stigma associated with mental illness, could also either mediate or exacerbate the challenge of parenting with BD. The clinical implications of these findings are discussed. The critical reflection provides a consideration of qualitative methodologies and a personal reflection on the qualitative process in relation to the empirical research. It details the critical debates around qualitative methodology, the application of qualitative methodologies, and the challenges this presented for the researcher. The report was written on completion of the investigation and reflects the process by which, as a novice, the author was able to develop an understanding of qualitative methodology and carry out an insightful piece of research.
Supervisor: Calam, Rachel ; Ulph, Fiona Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Parenting ; Severe Mental Illness ; Bipolar Disorder ; Qualitative