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Portfolio for professional doctorate in counselling psychology

Gil-Rodriguez, E. (2008). Portfolio for professional doctorate in counselling psychology. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University)


Research into body image in women in the first year after birth is contradictory and mainly quantitative in nature. In response to these inconsistencies and the paucity of qualitative research in this area, this study has investigated the lived experience of the body and body image in women during the postpartum year. The study was conducted using semi-structured interview data analysed using the qualitative methodology of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Participants were eight women, aged between 33 and 40 years of age, who have given birth to their first child. Three superordinate themes emerged from the interview data: the body, self and others; the body in cultural context; and the body as perceived and lived. The women’s experience supports the notion of body image being a complex and multi-faceted construct that is firmly embedded in their lifeworld. A compelling embodied dimension also emerged from the accounts and their experience was found to be fundamentally relational in nature. Influences impacting upon the women’s experience of their body and body image were also found to be complex, multifactorial and embedded in the lifeworld. Integration of the bodily changes accompanying childbearing appears to be facilitated through the women’s reconceptualisation of themselves as mothers. The notion of the self emerged as an important aspect of the women’s experience during this time of transition. A rich description of the women’s experience of their bodies and body image in the postpartum period is therefore presented. It is argued that the study provides insights into this lived experience that may be useful for counselling psychologists when working with this group, and other women, at this important transitional stage in life.

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