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Connecting self, body and world: a counselling psychology perspective

Grant, Susannah (2014). Connecting self, body and world: a counselling psychology perspective. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


Children in England currently take part in a government-funded childhood weight surveillance and feedback initiative - the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP). Limited research has been undertaken, predominantly using a positivist framework. This study explored the maternal experience of being told one’s child is overweight or obese as part of the NCMP. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with the eight participants, and the data were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Three master themes emerged: ‘the Impacted Self’, ‘the Disempowered Self’ and ‘the Mother Self’. ‘The Impacted Self’ suggests that participants’ experiences changed over time: there was initial surprise and shock; subsequent uncertainty and rumination regarding whether or not the weight category ascribed to their child was appropriate and, if so, concern regarding their role in the event; and an evolving experience, where participants either were able to move on and reject the category, or move on and accept the category, or remain stuck within uncertainty. ‘The Disempowered Self’ suggests that participants felt their power, authority, or confidence was undermined or removed; being judged, blamed and shamed; being branded and reduced to a weight label; and being controlled by numerous others, such as professionals, the letter, and societal meanings. ‘The Mother Self’ suggests that being a mother was an integral part of the overall experience, specifically: being a nurturer and protector in relation to their child; experiencing a unique bond to their child both emotionally and biologically; and navigating complexity of varying motherhood ‘pulls’, both logistical and psychological. This research study provides an in-depth exploration of the lived experiences of some of those who are affected by the NCMP, which is absent from current literature. Possible implications for the future development of the NCMP and related programmes, and for future research, are discussed.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
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