Danielle B Palmer (author), Janelle Kwee (thesis supervisor), Mihaela Launeanu (second reader), Allyson Jule (external examiner), Trinity Western University SGS (Degree granting institution)
By adopting a relational ontology, the present study challenges traditional approaches to psychological theory, research and practice. This complementary lens was used to explore women’s experiences of harm and healing in the context of acquaintance sexual assault. Six women participated in interviews using sandtrays, and the Listening Guide (Brown & Gilligan, 1992) was used to analyze transcripts. Voices of harm constricted participants’ experiences of being connected to themselves, others and the world, and consisted of denial, confusion, judgment, isolation and separation. Voices of healing emerged as expansive processes, identified as acknowledgment, knowing, acceptance, accompaniment and empowerment. These findings broaden current understandings of sexual assault, trauma and betrayal, and better equip counsellors, social supports, communities and cultures, to dismantle relational processes that stagnate survivors and promote those that foster growth.
Katelyn A. Fister (author), Janelle Kwee (thesis supervisor), Richard Bradshaw (second reader), Lara Ragpot (external examiner), Trinity Western University SGS (Degree granting institution)
In this study, the Listening Guide (Brown & Gilligan, 1992) was used to explore the therapeutic application of metaphor in the treatment of dissociative identity disorder (DID) from the perspective of both client and therapist. Through analysis of the interviews, eight voices were identified. These voices are organized into two overarching categories: 1) voices of trauma and dissociation, and 2) voices of healing and integration. Relationships were observed among the various voices of dissociation, as well as between the voices of dissociation and those of trauma and healing. These relationships reveal natural links between clients’ metaphors of trauma, dissociation, and healing. The clients’ core metaphors of dissociation – Hope’s beehive metaphor and ‘Reace’s mansion metaphor – illustrate the complex relationships that exist among these metaphorical constructs. The metaphors represented the individuals’ subjective experiences of DID and were used as the main organizers of the healing process across all three phases of treatment.
Chelsea D. Beyer (author), Mihaela Launeanu (thesis supervisor), Janelle Kwee (second reader), Faith Auton-Cuff (external examiner), Trinity Western University SGS (Degree granting institution)
Anorexia nervosa (AN) is presently defined by restriction of energy intake, low body weight, fear of gaining weight, and disturbances in body image (American Psychological Association, 2013). Absent from the current framework of AN is the acknowledgement of embodied and lived experience. Alternatively, the Developmental Theory of Embodiment (DTE), founded on Merleau-Ponty’s conceptualization of embodiment, proposed that AN develops from complex interactions between the embodied female self and the sociocultural context in which it is situated (Piran & Teall, 2012). Extending from the framework of the DTE, the purpose of the study was to explore the role of embodied and affective experience in women with AN through the process of recovery using body-centered poetic discourse as a method of inquiry. Six women diagnosed with AN reflected on three time points of their recovery journey: at the worst of the eating disorder, in recovery, and towards unified body-self. Thematic analysis of poetic discourse resulted in the identification of eleven embodiment and three affective themes. Moreover, three body-self patterns emerged from the AN recovery process: bifurcated, recovered, and unified body-self. With recovery from AN, poetic discourse displayed a pattern of shifting from negative embodied experience to positive embodied experience. The change in the affective experience was intertwined with that in the embodied experience, likewise shifting from negative or absent to positive. Findings illustrated recovery from AN as parallel to the restoration of embodied lived experience. The clinical and societal implications of these findings are discussed in terms of reforming conceptualization and prevention of AN.
Lisa Steenburgh (author), Joan Kimball (thesis supervisor), Marvin McDonald (thesis supervisor), Derrick Klaassen (second reader), Trinity Western University SGS (Degree granting institution)
This study explored self-concept and living with juvenile diabetes in young adulthood. Eight young adults ages 19-29 who self-identified as having juvenile diabetes participated in one to two-hour semi-structured interviews. Interviews were analyzed using the descriptive phenomenological approach, as outlined by Giorgi and Giorgi (2003a). Being shaped but not defined by juvenile diabetes emerged as the essence of the young adults' experiences. Self-concept was shaped by diabetes in three main ways: (1) becoming more responsible, mature and resilient, (2) planning ahead and thinking critically, and (3) gaining empathy. Underlying several themes was the choice participants made to stay positive and maintain hope. They separated symptoms from self, and as much as possible did not let diabetes limit them. Paradoxically, limitations helped them develop skills that put them ahead in other areas of their lives. Findings are particularly relevant for mental health professionals working with young adults living with chronic illness.
Sandeep Bhandal (author), Robert Lees (thesis supervisor), Gurmeet Singh (second reader), Keli Anderson (external examiner), Trinity Western University SGS (Degree granting institution), Marvin McDonald (thesis supervisor)
From birth onward, child development is shaped by the environmental context in which children are raised and relationships with their primary caregivers. Emotion regulation is a foundational skill that impacts the parent-child relationship. Mindfulness-Based Emotion Regulation (MBER) is one course offered to caregivers focused on strengthening emotion regulation among parents, using mindfulness. Using the Enhanced Critical Incident Technique methodology, individual interviews were conducted with eight participants, who shared their application of the material to their family life. Two research questions were examined, addressing what helped, hindered, and what participants wish in mindfulness education to create healthier relationships to their children. Results showed that the helpful incidents outweighed the number of hindering and wish list incidents. Participants reported feeling motivated to incorporate mindfulness in their relationships, and more confident as a caregiver. The purpose of the current project is to increase our knowledge about using a family-centered approach with our clients.
Elizabeth J Chan (author), Janelle L Kwee (thesis supervisor), Marvin McDonald (second reader), Mihaela Launeanu (third reader), Trinity Western University SGS (Degree granting institution)
This study opened up avenues for exploring the dismembering effects of trauma and the “re-membering” process of healing. Six participants engaged in a 60- to 90-minute semi-structured interview modelled after Elliot’s Change Interview. Utilizing the Listening Guide, the research team identified voices speaking about trauma and recovery. The voices were grouped into three categories: the voices of trauma’s dismembering effects, the voices of turning towards the pain, and the voices of healing. Among the voices of trauma’s dismembering effects were disconnection, dissociation, impasse, and pain. Voices of turning towards the pain included the voices of active acceptance and of mourning. Voices of healing included the voices of personal essence, integration, astonishment, agency, and calm and peace. Examining these voices, we traced patterns of shifting from fragmentation, aloneness, and numbness to wholeness, connection, and presence. This progression highlights the fulfilled potential of personhood through the transformational process of healing in therapy.
Jillian M. Schmidt-Levesque (author), Janelle Kwee (thesis supervisor), Marvin McDonald (second reader), Chuck Macknee (third reader), Trinity Western University SGS (Degree granting institution)
Although literature acknowledges that fathers are critical figures in women’s lives, and the daughter-father relationship is crucial for women’s development of self, this understanding has been paired with a focus on negative developmental consequences instead of emphasizing the positive aspects found within the daughter-father relationship. This study was designed to combine two controversial and impactful areas of research, daughter-father relationships and women’s development of empowerment. Four daughter-father dyads were selected for inclusion based on the daughters’ self-reported positive relationships with their fathers. All four daughterfather dyads identified as Christian and active members of Evangelical culture. Throughout the narratives spirituality was hugely influential in supporting daughters’ identity development.. In order to capture the essence of the inner experiences daughters and fathers have voiced in relationship with one another, the qualitative feminist method the Listening Guide was employed. Through participants’ narratives, voices were identified which spoke of relationship (voices of autonomy, silencing, empathy, yearning, acceptance, approval, attunement, parental guidance, connection, and resistance). Through experiences in connection with their fathers, the daughters were able to begin to organize their sense of self.
Single and childless women over the age of 35 constitute an expanding demographic in North America and in many parts of the world, yet we are still living in a society that places great importance on marriage and family and views them as important markers of life success. This research was designed to explore how involuntarily single (never-married) and childless women experience themselves during early midlife (ages 35-45). Eight women’s experiences were explored in this study using the feminist relational methodology of the Listening Guide. Data analysis uncovered three categories of voices: voices which conveyed the positivity of living a single and childless identity (i.e. the voices of hope, faith, gratitude, nurturance, freedom, and resilience), voices which conveyed the struggles of living a single and childless identity (i.e. the voices of invisibility, shame, confusion, loneliness, guilt, longing, and uncertain waiting), and the voice of ambivalence.
Krista Socholotiuk (thesis supervisor), Darcie R. Brown (author), Janelle Kwee (second reader), Megan Foley Nicpon (external examiner), Trinity Western University SGS (Degree granting institution)
Twice-exceptional children are gifted and have at least one area of disability. This combination presents unique parenting challenges that are important to understand given the central role that parents play in the success of their twice-exceptional children. Self-compassion is treating oneself with understanding and acceptance when faced with imperfections; it has been shown to be a powerful source of coping and resilience for a wide range of populations. This constructivist study used the listening guide—a qualitative, relational, voice-centred method (Gilligan, 2015) where 7 self-compassionate parents of twice-exceptional children were interviewed about their understandings of self-compassion in parenting. Data analysis revealed three groupings of voices: Presence and Wise voices were the voices of self-compassion, and Demand voices emerged as a dissonant, non-self-compassionate counterpoint. The four themes that emerged revealed parents used self-compassion to weather challenges, to remain mindful despite difficulties, to engage wiser problem-solving, and to nurture important relationships.
Jillian Hart (author), Marvin McDonald (thesis supervisor), Joanne Stephen (second reader), David Reid (external examiner), Trinity Western University SGS (Degree granting institution)
The present study explored the wider relational context of partners of women facing cancer. Seven male partners of breast cancer patients shared their experience of being a partner to a woman going through cancer. Dialogal phenomenology allowed for clarification of the landscape of these partners' experience by providing opportunity to formulate their experience and to unfold meanings attributed to this experience. Seven themes were identified: crisis and aftermath; children, parenting, and fertility; personal impact; breast cancer as a shared experience; honouring voices and voice; relational choreography; and relational outlook. These men shared different ways that being a partner of a woman with cancer is a shared experience. One pattern that emerged describes how a "you and me" couple identity framework can shift into a "we" perspective. These results revealed how couple identity emerged in relational patterns of engagement during conversational interviewing, a distinctive feature that fits well with previous findings.
Ryan J. Newman (author), Derrick W. Klaassen (thesis supervisor), Mihaela Launeanu (second reader), Peter M. Gubi (external examiner), Trinity Western University SGS (Degree granting institution)
This study explored the experience of searching for God for adolescents in Christian communities. Hermeneutic phenomenology was the primary method used, though it also drew from Personal Existential Analysis (Längle, 2003) and personal phenomenology (Launeanu et al., 2019). Five individuals were interviewed using semi-structured interviews, yielding results that took the form of six key features. Overall, searching for God appeared as a relational, paradoxical process that involves: (a) suffering, (b) questioning and doubting, (c) longing for authenticity, (d) saying “yes” to the process, (e) unburdening, and (f) striving to help others. The findings revealed that searching for God is akin to the adolescent’s existential task of becoming oneself as they move away from old understandings of God in search of a more congruent worldview. The results are an invitation for counsellors and church leaders to support the unfolding of this process in the adolescents they work with.
Amy C Kobelt (author), Janelle Kwee (thesis supervisor), Jennifer Mervyn (second reader), Barbara Astle (external examiner), Trinity Western University SGS (Degree granting institution)
In Canada sex trafficking is a hidden crime that impacts women of every race and socioeconomic status, though Indigenous women are disproportionately represented as victims. This study provided a platform to listen to seven female survivors’ experiences of healing, strength and resiliency after they were freed from exploitation in Canada to counteract victim’s experiences of oppression and silencing. The qualitative feminist method of the listening guide was utilized to provide victim-informed research driven by participant’s narratives. Two categories of voices emerged in participants’ narratives: voices of resistance and voices of healing. The voices of resistance (oppression, dismissal, avoidance, confusion, and disconnection), spoke about obstacles and barriers in healing, while voices of healing (connection, knowing, compassion, resilience, advocacy, agency, and purpose), captured women’s stories of healing. Survivors were found to experience healing through connection with themselves and others, mastery of new skills, regaining their autonomy, finding purpose, and sharing their stories.