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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The experiences of complicated-mild to severe traumatic brain injury survivors in counselling Leong, Angela Ivy


After traumatic brain injury (TBI), survivors often struggle with emotional issues such as low mood, anxiety, anger, a “shattered sense of self” and grief (Ruff & Chester, 2014; Levack, Kayes & Fadyl, 2010; Aboulafia-Brakha, Greber-Buschbeck, Rochat & Annoni, 2013). The complicity of these issues, which do not respond well to medication, has led to the rise of psychological counselling in rehabilitation. Due to massive neurobehavioural differences between TBI survivors and the general population, research-validated counselling practices are needed. The American Psychological Association (2006) states that research-validated practice is to be comprised of clinical expertise, controlled studies and client feedback. However, the literature describing best practices for TBI survivors in counselling is dominated by theoretical guidelines based on clinical expertise. This study aims to fulfill the gap in the lack of feedback from survivors regarding treatment received. A qualitative method was used. Ten participants were recruited through posters posted in various establishments in Metro Vancouver. Using the Interpretive Description method, participants were asked to provide an in-depth description of helpful and unhelpful experiences in counselling, including their experiences of the interventions used, their relationship with their therapist, and any environmental factors experienced. The inquiry was guided by semi-structured interview questions, which were developed and re-developed with the cumulative data from each successive participant. Participant descriptions were interpreted, coded and analyzed, from which three major sub-themes of data emerged: participant descriptions of barriers and facilitators in the therapeutic environment, in the therapeutic relationship and in the components of psychotherapeutic treatment.

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