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Title: Can't talk about it, won't talk about it : how do alexithymia and experiential avoidance relate to men's experience of psychological distress?
Author: Fairhurst, Bryony R.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6422 8573
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2017
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Alexithymia and experiential avoidance have both been shown to share substantial relationships with poor mental health outcomes. Both constructs may have heightened importance for men, as male gender is associated with higher rates of alexithymia as well as the increased use of harmful experientially-avoidant coping strategies. Recent research has turned its attention towards the hypothesis that the relationship between alexithymia and negative psychological wellbeing may be as a result of the inflexible application of broader belief systems endorsing the benefits of experientially avoidant coping. This may be particularly relevant for men, who are arguably socialised into suppressing emotional states viewed as unacceptable within dominant masculinity scripts. This thesis aimed to explore the impact of experiential avoidance on the relationship between alexithymia and psychological wellbeing. Specifically, Part One of this portfolio contains a systematic literature review exploring the current evidence base pertaining to the question: how are alexithymia and experiential avoidance related? The findings of the review suggest that studies consistently report positive, significant relationships between alexithymia and experiential avoidance. Additionally, although there have been some mixed findings from mediation analyses, the weight of evidence currently appears in support of experiential avoidance being a critical mediator in the relationship between alexithymia and poorer psychological wellbeing. Part Two presents an empirical paper that investigated the mediating role of experiential avoidance in the relationship between alexithymia and experiential avoidance in men. Findings supported experiential avoidance having a mediating role in this relationship, consistent across depression, anxiety and stress. Findings support the conceptualisation of alexithymia as a learned coping response, which develops alongside preferences for avoidant coping more generally i.e. psychological inflexibility. Parts Three and Four of this portfolio contain details of the clinical experience and academic assignments also completed as part of this clinical doctorate programme.
Supervisor: Spendelow, Jason ; John, Mary Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available