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Exploring the experiences and needs of asylum-seeking and refugee individuals through qualitative and Personal Construct methods

Thommessen, Sara (2016). Exploring the experiences and needs of asylum-seeking and refugee individuals through qualitative and Personal Construct methods. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


This thesis is concerned with first-person accounts of the needs and experiences of asylum-seeking and refugee individuals in European asylum countries. The aim of the research programme was twofold. Firstly, to explore how participating asylum-seeking and refugee individuals understand and make sense of their experiences and how societies can best support them through qualitative methods. Secondly, to determine the value of using a method based on George Kelly’s Personal Construct Theory (PCT) as a ‘working tool’ to elicit constructs that guide meaning-making and understanding in asylum-seeking and refugee individuals in European countries. An inherent goal throughout the research was to give voice to asylum-seeking and refugee children, youths and adults, whose voices are rarely heard.

The research programme included two types of studies. There were two exploratory studies based on Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, and three studies that examined the value of applying a method based on Kelly’s PCT method, where the resulting data were analysed using a thematic analysis. Overall, the studies focus on first-person accounts and personal constructs of asylum-seeking and refugee children, youth and adults, and highlight aspects of the social world that are perceived to be critical to these individuals. In all of the studies, the immense importance of social support and social relationships were found to be main themes, in addition to possibilities related to education, work and being able to make a positive contribution to the resettlement country. Furthermore, challenges related to language difficulties, isolation, stigmatisation and cultural clashes were identified as central themes. It is hoped that these findings may be implemented in theoretical and practical work, when seeking to develop intervention and support strategies for these groups. Additionally, it is hoped that the participants’ willingness to share their perspectives will lead to an increased understanding of the complexity of asylum-seeking and refugee experiences.

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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