‘Who am I?’ How female care-leavers construct and make sense of their identity

Colbridge, Alicia K., Hassett, A. and Sisley, E. (2017) ‘Who am I?’ How female care-leavers construct and make sense of their identity. SAGE Open. ISSN 2158-2440.

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Identity formation may be more complex for those who have been in foster care in the face of childhood abuse, difficult relationships, unstable environments, and multiple care contexts but this does not imply there is anything pathological about it. Given the higher levels of mental health difficulties in looked after children and the known role identity has in mental health, whether as a risk or a protective factor, it seems clinically significant to investigate what factors help construct or hinder the formation of identity for those who have been in care. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to analyze semistructured interviews of eight female care leavers about the understanding of their identity development. Three superordinate themes emerged which encapsulated participants’ identity development. These included Construction of Identity—How I Became Me, Understanding of Identity—Who am I, and Experience of Identity—How My Identity Plays Out. Participants’ construction of identity can be understood in the context of early adverse environments and developmental trauma. This construction of self, in turn, mediates how participants understand and experience their identity. Findings were discussed in relation to previous research, and limitations were outlined. Implications for future research included giving fuller consideration to the role of developmental trauma in identity formation. Clinical implications encourage understanding of looked after children and care leavers in the context of developmental trauma, rather than focusing on symptoms of various diagnoses

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine > RA0790 Mental health services. Mental illness prevention
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology
Depositing User: Dr Alex Hassett
Date Deposited: 21 Dec 2016 15:42
Last Modified: 22 Nov 2018 10:49
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/15344

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00