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Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis for the study of lesbian couples' experiences of parenthood Hanna Van Parys Faculty of Psycholgy and Educational.

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Presentation on theme: "Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis for the study of lesbian couples' experiences of parenthood Hanna Van Parys Faculty of Psycholgy and Educational."— Presentation transcript:

1 Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis for the study of lesbian couples' experiences of parenthood Hanna Van Parys Faculty of Psycholgy and Educational Sciences, Ghent University Dialogical Practices Conference, Leuven 2013

2 CONTENT Qualitative research in psychology Studying couple experiences: individual versus couple data Analysing joint interviews Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) with couples Implementation of IPA with couples Questions and feedback

3 Research Start 2008: PhD: Exploring parentification: Children’s experiences of growing up with a depressed parent (University of Leuven) Supervisor: Peter Rober Co-supervisor: Jonathan A. Smith Now… Research project about social and genetic parenthood (Ghent University) Clinical practice Trained as family therapist at Context, Center for marital, family and sextherapy, University Hospital Leuven Family therapist at the Ghent University Hospital

4 Current research project 85 couple interviews Parents and Children - Retrospective Prospective parents Own gametesDonor gametes LesbianHeterosexualTranssexual Hetero Hetero and lesbian Hetero Own gametes IVF/ICSI/KIE Oocyte donation Sperm donation WisselKnown* Interview parents 10 5 Interview children 10 55 --- [1]

5 Qualitative research in psychology Content analysis Thematic analysis Narrative analysis Conversation analysis Discourse analysis Microanalysis Grounded theory analysis Interpretative phenomenological analysis

6 Qualitative research in psychology Qualitative research methods are expanding Growing number of ‘modificications’ of established methods Search for specific qualitative methods for the analysis of couples’ experiences

7 Studying couples: individual versus couple data Eisikovits & Koren, 2012 Mode of data collectionExamples Separate interviewsReilly et al. (2010), Wane et al. (2009), Dancyger et al. (2010), Eisikovits & Koren (2012) Separate interviews performed simultaneously by different interviewers Joint interviewsMorris (2001), Walker & Dickson (2004) Both separate and joint interviews with same participants Separate interviews with some participants and joint interviews with others

8 Analysing joint interviews Joint interviews = common method for data collection However, couple data often treated as individual data E.g. Glover et al. (2009), Hargreaves (2006) Some other examples show how a closer look at couple dynamics in joint interviews is worthwile: -Walker & Dickson (2004) -Morris (2001) -…

9 Analysing joint interviews Walker & Dickson (2004): experience of coping with minor health problems in couples Data-analysis: grounded theory analysis Analysis of couple narratives is organised in five ‘couple types’ (sympathetic couple, independent couple, mixed couple, nonreciprocal couple, rejecting couple) Quotes illustrate couple dynamics such as negotiating of care Research question congruent with data collection

10 Analysing joint interviews Morris (2001): experiences of cancer patients and their carers Data analysis: dialogic discourse analysis Focus on co-construction, turntaking, power dynamics, etc. Focus of analysis is on relationship between patient and carer

11 Analysing joint interviews These studies can be used as examples for our own research project on lesbian couples' experiences of parenthood after medically assisted reproduction Aim of this study is to get a closer understanding of both shared and unshared experiences of parenthood. However: clear methodological guidelines are missing

12 Analysing joint interviews Aim: to build a methodological framework connecting both phenomenological qualitative analysis and the analysis unit of couples and families Starting point: interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009 Focus on lived experience Idiographic commitment Established method for research about family relationships How to modify IPA to the analysis of couple interviews?

13 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009) Case by case analysis: 1.Read the transcript and make descriptive/linguistic/conceptual notes (paper and pencil) 2.Do a first coding (paper and pencil) 3.Transfer the first coding into a Word document 4.Cluster the themes into higher order themes 5.Make a table of themes holding information about key phrases and locations in the transcript 6.Write an accompanying short narrative about the case Case by case analysis followed by comparison across cases

14 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis with couples Additional focus on: - shared experience - interactional processes - reported differences between partners Exploring other research methods compatible to IPA: - Performative analysis - Microanalysis - Conversation analysis …

15 Performative analysis Riessman (2008) “dialogic/performance analysis … interrogates how talk among speakers is interactively (dialogically) produced and performed as narrative” (Riessman, 2008 p. 105) - Focus on the manner of speaking together, the process of co- construction of the narrative - Theoretical base: symbolic interactionism - Utterences situated in I-thou relationship, this I-thou relationship is manifest in couple interviews

16 Microanalysis Bavelas et al. (2000, 2010) Method applied to research in family therapy Microanalysis of communication = “the detailed and reliable examination of observable communication sequences as they proceed, moment by moment, in the dialogue” (Bavelas et al., 2010, p. 18). Focus on collaborative, reciprocal dialogue and moment-by- moment ‘micro’ influence

17 Microanalysis Bavelas et al. (2000, 2010) Four questions guiding microanalysis: - what actually happened? - what preceded it? - what followed it? - how did it function?

18 Conversation analysis Detailed analysis of conversation in context. Importance of high level of detail in the transcripts Focus on “seen but unnoticed dialogical practices” Question: how do dialogical features contribute to the construction of “realities”? Conducted in ‘natural dialogues’, e.g. telephone conversation

19 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis with couples How can the experiential starting point of IPA and a dialogic/performative focus be integrated?

20 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis with couples: implementation Six steps of IPA Two additional phases: -Four instead of three types of ‘notes’: process/couple notes including interpretation of interaction between partners (e.g. elaborating on each others story, nuancing, illustrating) and the ways partners take each other into account when talking (e.g. biological mother validating parental role of parnter) -Colour coding of these ‘co-constructions’ of partners in MAXQDA (software for qualitative data-analysis) experiential analysis integrating dialogic aspects

21 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis with couples: implementation Research question: how do lesbian parents experience family communication about the donor conception?

22 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis with couples: implementation Screenshot of Word document Screenshot of MAXqda



25 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis with couples: implementation Excerpt from interview 1: 00:17:00 Hanna: How is it for you to talk about it (the donor conception) when Tim doesn’t ask any questions about it? Sara: look, then we don’t talk about it huh. They just told us: the only thing you have to make sure is not to say anything more than what your children are asking for. So the moment he has a question, we’ll answer it. So the moment there is a question, we’ll answer him. Hanna: yes yes Sara: but just give the information they (children) are asking for. Lisa: not elaborating on it Sara: “do I have a dad?”, we’ll answer: “no you don’t have a dad”. We won’ t say: “do you know how come” or “no you don’t have a dad because…”

26 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis with couples: implementation (exerpt continued) Sara: If they want to know they will ask. Lisa: And then we will, then we will answer them of course. Sara: With Tim that’s very easy: the question has never been raised (laughs) Lisa: but maybe it’ll come in the future (laughs) Sara: Lien sometimes asks “don’t I have a dad?” “no you don’t have a dad”. “who’s belly did I grow in?”, she already asked. Yes, things like that.

27 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis with couples: implementation Excercise: can you make some process/couple notes for this experpt? -descriptive notes -linguistic notes -conceptual notes -couple/process notes

28 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis with couples: implementation Overview of (preliminary) themes for interview 1: Only answering when child asks questions Talking about donor conception spontaneously Meaning of parents’ ‘names’ Fearful expectations towards the future Worried about the child not talking to peers Couple communication Communication with wider social context

29 Questions and feedback

30 Conclusion -Growing number of qualitative studies focusing on couple experiences -Difficulty to find analysis method that preserves the richness of couple data and allows for systematic analysis of co- constructed meanings -Need to specify data-analysis and to apply it consequently -Recent developments in experiential qualitative research with couples can also inspire research about therapeutic processes

31 The goal? Adding to the development of qualitative research in the field of couple and family studies Doing meaningful qualitative research using these methods

32 References Bavelas, J. B., Healing, S., Tomori, C., & Gerwing, J. (2010). Microanalysis workshop manual (unpublished manuscript). University of Victoria, Victoria BC, Canada. Bavelas, J. B., McGee, D., Philips, B., & Routledge, R. (2000). Microanalysis of communication in psychotherapy. Human Systems: The Journal of Systemic Consultations & Management, 11(1), 3-22. Dancyger, C., Smith, J.A., Jacobs, C., Wallace, M., Michie, S. (2010), Comparing family members’ motivations and attitudes towards genetic testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer: a qualitative analysis. European Journal of Human Genetics, 18, 1289-1295, Eiskovits, Z., & Koren, C. (2012). Approaches to and outcomes of dyadic interview analysis. Qualitative Health Research, 1642-1655. Glover, L., McLellan, A., & Weaver, S. M. (2009). What does having a fertility problem mean to couples? Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 27(4), 401-418, Hargreaves, K. (2006). Constructing families and kinship through donor insemination. Sociology of Health & Illness, 28(3), 261-283,

33 References Morris, S. M., (2001). Joint and individual interviewing in the context of cancer. Qualitative Health Research, 11(4), 553-567, Reilly, D., Huws, J., Hastings, R., & Vaughan, F. (2010). Life and death of a child with down syndrome and a congenital heart condition: experiences of six couples. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 48(6), 403-416, Riessman, C. K. (2008), Narrative methods for the human sciences. London: Sage. Smith, J. A., Flowers, P., & Larkin, M. (2009). Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis : theory, method and research. London : Sage. Walker, K. L. & Dickson, F. C. (2004). An exploration of illness-related narratives in marriage: The identification of illness-identy sripts. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 21 (4), 527-544, Wane, J., Larkin, M., Earl-Gray, M., & Smith, H. (2009). Understanding the impact of an Assertive Outreach Team on couples caring for adult children with psychosis. Journal of Family Therapy, 31, 284- 309,


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