Understanding the challenges of trauma theory application in caring for looked after children: An Interpretative Phenomenological Approach exploring foster carers’ experiences
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AbstractResearch on foster care placements caring for traumatised Looked After children has often been quantitative in nature. Additionally, those with quantitative elements often focus on the application of parenting models or perceptions of behavioural outcomes. Whilst such research provides valuable insight into the field of childhood trauma, it is important to explore the complexities of individuals’ lived experiences. This qualitative research study investigates and provides detailed analysis of the lived experiences of trauma-informed foster carers within the setting of a Local Authority Social Services fostering agency. The study aims to develop and convey an in-depth understanding of participants’ perspectives, and of the meanings which they attach to these. Semistructured interviews were conducted individually with five participants; exploring the challenges in applying trauma-theory in caring for Looked After children. Interview data was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Four superordinate themes, each comprising two subordinate emergent themes, were identified. Themes were then structured within a 4-stage model of the Fostering Self, representing the ongoing and cyclical process which the trauma-informed foster carers experienced; ‘fragmenting through the dual Self’, ‘the evolving Self’, ‘reconstruction of the Self’, and ‘evaluation of the Self’. Findings demonstrate how components of existing literature are experienced as processes which occur through the lived experience during a cyclical formation and evolution of Self. These findings may in turn illuminate existing literature. Implications for practice are identified, including how the model may be used to assist individuals, professional relationships, and the wider organisation. Four main areas for further research are identified: the lived experiences of trauma-informed foster carers during each separate domain of the model, what assists trauma-responsiveness during the individual domains, carers’ experiences of progression from one domain to another, and what affects the transition between domains. Conducting further research on these areas could further illuminate the processes which trauma-informed foster carers experience as a whole.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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