Saving face: an arts-based hermeneutic phenomenological study of women’s personal agency explored through the lens of adverse childhood experiences

DPsych thesis


Adcock, J. 2023. Saving face: an arts-based hermeneutic phenomenological study of women’s personal agency explored through the lens of adverse childhood experiences. DPsych thesis Middlesex University / Metanoia Institute Psychology
TypeDPsych thesis
TitleSaving face: an arts-based hermeneutic phenomenological study of women’s personal agency explored through the lens of adverse childhood experiences
AuthorsAdcock, J.
Abstract

Through the lens of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), this qualitative study explores the development of women’s personal agency and the phenomenon of ‘saving face’. Ten experienced female psychotherapists, all in practice and with recognised ACEs, were recruited with interviews being conducted via the online platform Zoom or in person. Semi-structured questions invited dialogue both before and after the creation of images using basic art materials. Within the creative research design, a pluralistic philosophical approach, which included Critical Realism, supported the development of the bespoke methodology combining arts-based research, hermeneutic phenomenological inquiry and Template Analysis.

Generated data (text and images) were manually coded to surface phenomenologically descriptive elements while allowing for interpretation to evolve through application of the hermeneutic circle. A deeper hermeneutic phenomenological exploration, using Memory Theatre, developed into four vignettes which serendipitously aligned with the four top-level themes. The findings not only demonstrated that adverse experiences in childhood significantly impacted development of the participants’ personal agency, but that, in spite of years of counselling training and personal therapy, none of the participants had previously made connections between the two. In addition, all participants felt that their intra- and inter- personal relationships had been affected. The participants also recognised that ‘saving face’ was a strategy employed, consciously or unconsciously, to safeguard against potentially painful and shameful exposure.

The findings indicated that by using expressive art as part of the exploration process, new depths of understanding, insight, and meaning making were achieved for the participants and the researcher. As a result of the research, a new theory and model for practice is being developed by the researcher and will be published as a tool for practitioners’ clinical practice. Insight gained from this research will be used in post-doctoral projects including promoting the awareness of trauma informed parenting and relationships along with arts-based workshops designed to develop personal agency, increase authenticity and reduce the need to ‘save face’.

KeywordsHermeneutic phenomenology; creative/expressive art; arts-based research; adverse childhood experiences (ACEs); trauma; agency (personal, human, self); saving face; Template Analysis; Critical Realism
Sustainable Development Goals3 Good health and well-being
Middlesex University ThemeHealth & Wellbeing
LanguageEnglish
Department namePsychology
Science and Technology
Institution nameMiddlesex University / Metanoia Institute
Collaborating institutionMetanoia Institute
PublisherMiddlesex University Research Repository
Publication dates
Online21 Mar 2024
Publication process dates
Accepted04 Oct 2023
Deposited21 Mar 2024
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
File Access Level
Open
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https://repository.mdx.ac.uk/item/112z8y

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Accepted author manuscript
JAAdcock thesis.pdf
File access level: Open

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