Friends’ Experiences and Sense-Making of Providing Support for a Socially Anxious Young Person: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
AuthorsNielsen, Amanda K.
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AbstractThis study investigates how friends experience and make sense of providing support for a socially anxious young person. The experiences of friends who provide support for people with mental illnesses are rarely studied in their own right; studies tend to group friends with the experiences of partners or parents. This study aimed at analysing the overlooked perspective of the friends. Friends’ experiences were attained through semi-structured interviews with five self-identified friends of a young person with social anxiety. Through an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, three super-ordinate themes were generated: experiencing responsibility, the challenges in providing support, and the meaning of providing support. The analysis demonstrated that friends are a great source of support for socially anxious young people. Participants experienced a great responsibility because the socially anxious friends were dependent upon the support provided. Providing support was challenging; participants dealt with self-blame, worries about providing the right support and being a good supporter. However, participants valued their friendships, and providing support was also linked to feelings of reward, pride, success and achievement. The discussion indicated that great responsibility and dependency is commonly experienced among carers of people with mental illnesses, and that friends could benefit from sharing the responsibility with more people to reduce the challenges associated with providing support. Future research was recommended to examine the consequences of providing support alone versus in a group, and engage with the self-blame experienced among friends providing support. Last, more qualitative research on the experiences of friends was recommended for future studies.
CitationNielsen, A. K. (2016). Friends’ experiences and sense-making of providing support for a socially anxious young person: an interpretative phenomenological analysis (Master's thesis). University of Chester, United Kingdom.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/