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Title: Putting the stained glass window back together : helpful and unhelpful aspects of psychological therapy with women with breast cancer : a grounded theory analysis
Author: Harrison, Katherine
ISNI:       0000 0004 6350 2833
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2016
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The purpose of this study was to identify what women with primary breast cancer found helpful and unhelpful in psychological therapy. In-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with eleven women who had been supported post diagnosis, with psychological therapy. The women were, in the main, recruited from the Breast Cancer Voices network, set up by the national charity Breast Cancer Care. Data was analysed using Grounded Theory Analysis (GTA), from a social constructionist perspective. The women identified a range of helpful aspects in therapy: They all discussed their context, being thrown into the breast cancer world and analysis identified three helpful conditions; having the psychological need recognised by others, having easy access to ongoing flexible therapy and valuing the therapist's personal qualities. Three helpful interactions were identified; being enabled to express self safely, being treated as an individual whole woman and accessing the therapist's inner self. In addition, two helpful actions were identified, being helped to empower self and being taught new coping skills. The key theme was being helped to put active self back together again, which was the consequence of the therapy process. Analysis identified two unhelpful conditions, not having easy to access therapy and the therapist's personal qualities being cold and harsh. Two unhelpful interactions were also identified, being unable to express self safely and not being treated as an individual. One unhelpful action was identified, the therapy being too short. The consequence, when therapy was not set up in the right way, was that the women were re-traumatised and remained shattered. Whilst sample size was small, nevertheless the aim of generating rich in-depth data was fulfilled. The findings have theoretical implications: Treating women as whole individuals, helping the women learn individual coping skills from a pluralistic perspective and helping to empower women can be as important as the medical care. The methodological implications are experiencing a therapeutic effect of research participation, valuing the women as active co-researchers, ethically considering participant benefits alongside risks and using GTA from a social constructionist philosophy helped to understand individual experience and at the same time that breast cancer is socially constructed. The practical implications are: Referral pathways to identify women who need psychological support, a safe therapeutic space to express real fears, normalising experience post breast cancer diagnosis and putting in place a flexible therapy contract are all vital to support women with primary breast cancer.
Supervisor: Burman, Erica Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Couns.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Psychological Therapy ; Breast Cancer ; Counselling Psychology ; Grounded Theory Analysis ; Social Constructionism