An exploration into the consequences of stereotyping single mothers and the efficacy of counselling as a support to them

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Murray, Lindsey
Issue Date
BA Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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Single parent families continue to be among the most vulnerable members of our society today. As a group they are typically excluded from and often marginalised by society. They are often the victims of stereotyping. Despite their economic and social status however, the number of single parent families are on the increase. The aim of this research project is to explore the consequences of stereotyping single mothers and the efficacy of counselling as a support to them. Much of the literature seems concerned with the negative portrayal of this group and little on the supports and services most needed is documented. This study is aimed at exploring the impact of stereotyping single mothers through direct contact with this group and hearing their experiences first hand. The efficacy of counselling as a support will also feature. The method employed to conduct this research is a thematic analysis approach, using semi-structured interviews with six single mothers as a representation of this group. Data collected is analysed, labelled and then coded into themes. The study indicates that stereotyping is real in the lives of single mothers and that it can significantly impact many areas of their lives. Among the impacted areas reported are, employment, health, supports and services and future relationships. The study also highlights the role of counselling as a support to single mothers. Half of the participants report having availed of counselling in the past, with the majority of these reporting a positive experience. However the other half of those interviewed had no experience of counselling and when questioned, admitted they were unsure of what counselling was and whether their issues would warrant counselling. The study concludes that despite stereotyping, single mothers are motivated individuals coping as best they can. Counselling could help this group to cope better but information about and accessibility to this service needs to be addressed.