A narrative inquiry into the couple experience of living with trauma and distress after leaving the UK military

DCPsych thesis

Kay, I. 2021. A narrative inquiry into the couple experience of living with trauma and distress after leaving the UK military. DCPsych thesis Middlesex University / Metanoia Institute Psychology
TypeDCPsych thesis
TitleA narrative inquiry into the couple experience of living with trauma and distress after leaving the UK military
AuthorsKay, I.

The aim of this study was to explore the lived experiences of couples, one of whom has left the UK military and is living with a PTSD diagnosis. Research in the field of military mental health has only recently explored the
partner/spouse experience. Across the literature internationally and in the UK there is a lack of research projects on couples experiences of living with mental health issues, particularly that brings both members of the couple dyad together. Historically the focus has been on researching serving personnel and more recently the experiences of ex serving personnel. Such research has mostly been quantitative, with ex service personnel reporting higher mental health issues than actively serving counterparts.

In this study three couples were each invited to share their story together as part of a qualitative narrative inquiry. The stories were collected in semi structured narrative dialogues. Three overarching themes emerged in relationship to the couple. First military culture and identity where participants descriptions were caught up in a powerful military discourse, the impact of being discharged from the military for mental health reasons, their struggles with changing identities and the shame and stigma associated with mental health issues. The second theme was the impact of living with traumatic symptomology, including the duration and severity of symptoms, the struggle to receive help, finding their own way of coping and the impact of PTSD on the relationship. The third theme was the significant partner impact that occurs through secondary trauma, the role of the caregiver and loss of self.

This research proposes that where there is a couple relationship it can be integrated more effectively in treatment of ex service personnel with mental health issues and that partners require education and support themselves to minimise the adverse impact to their mental health and potential for secondary traumatisation.

This study supports a tailored and integrated (multi agency) support package for ex service personnel discharged for mental health and their partners, including the access to lifelong mental health services, particularly where a diagnosis of PTSD is made.

Sustainable Development Goals3 Good health and well-being
Middlesex University ThemeHealth & Wellbeing
Department namePsychology
Science and Technology
Institution nameMiddlesex University / Metanoia Institute
Collaborating institutionMetanoia Institute
PublisherMiddlesex University Research Repository
Publication dates
Online20 Mar 2024
Publication process dates
Accepted29 Aug 2023
Deposited20 Mar 2024
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
File Access Level
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