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Title: Helpful and unhelpful processes in psychological therapy for female substance users : an interpretative phenomenological analysis
Author: Halsall, Jane Louise
ISNI:       0000 0004 7231 341X
Awarding Body: University of Roehampton
Current Institution: University of Roehampton
Date of Award: 2018
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Addiction is a complex phenomenon characterised by a loss of control and compulsive, habitual behaviour. Since there is no single, specific cause for addiction, there is no single standard treatment. The prevalence of substance use disorder is on the increase and treatment success rates are low. Addiction literature is dominated by quantitative methodologies investigating biomedical and evidence based psychological practices. As such, a deficit of qualitative research exists and limited attention has been placed on understanding women’s perceptions of psychological treatment for substance use disorder (SUD). This phenomenological study explores the experience of psychological therapy from the perspective of women diagnosed with SUD under the DSM-V criteria. It aims to identify aspects of the therapeutic process that they found helpful and unhelpful. Eight women participated in semi-structured interviews, which were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Three superordinate themes were identified: ‘What words can’t express; finding another language,’ ‘Identification with my therapist,’ and ‘Getting towards acceptance’. The findings indicated that the interpersonal relationship with their therapist and the women’s emotional affect impacted their level of engagement. In the narratives, resistance and defensive behaviour were identified as a barrier when finding their voice at the start of therapy. This shifted as the therapeutic alliance strengthened. An unexpected finding was the importance of women’s perceptions of having a therapist who was also in ‘recovery’ from substance use disorder. Clinical and research implications include: reassessing therapeutic interventions for this client group and an exploration on how shame can be worked with relationally. In light of this, suggestions are also made for how clinicians might maximise early engagement with clients and potentially adapt treatment plans to fit a client’s individual needs.
Supervisor: Cooper, Michael Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Psych.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available