A psychotherapeutic exploration of the presenting issues of Irish women post abortion

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Bevin, Herbert
Issue Date
MA in Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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This research used a psychotherapeutic perspective to gain a more insightful understanding of the Irish woman’s subjective experience, particularly considering the issues of stigma, culture, travel to another country and societal attitudes that may affect her. Five separate semi-structured interviews were conducted with one male and four female participants who are practising and accredited therapists from integrative / humanistic orientations. Interview transcripts were analysed using qualitative thematic analysis. Three superordinate themes emerged, the findings of which suggest that instances such as stigma, cultural attitudes, enforced secrecy and a lack of perceived support are factors that influence the Irish woman’s abortion experience and contribute to subsequent negative emotional responses. Significantly the findings suggest that it is these factors, not the abortion per se that may contribute to psychological distress. It is hypothesised from these findings that there are negative consequences for relationships due to concealment and repression of an abortion experience which is a significant finding, as this correlates with instances highlighted in the literature that contribute to psychological distress. The findings also revealed the range of emotional and conflicting responses of Irish women and illustrate, that loss and grief are common issues that present in the therapeutic space and is therapeutically considered an important aspect of integrating and healing. The complexity of the decision to terminate a pregnancy for some women is reflected in the findings and the subsequent impact is multi-layered and influenced by many aspects of a woman’s life. Given the circumstances that surround abortion in Ireland, this study found strong justification for further research on the psychological impact of abortion on Irish women. Author keywords: Abortion and Irish women, stigma, concealment, presenting issues