The Construal Processes of Families Affected by Parental Acquired Brain Injury, and the Implications for Adjustment in Young People and Their Families
Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) has been associated with significant family disruption, yet few studies explore the experiences of child-relatives. This cross-sectional study sought to explore the experiences of young people and their families (n = 3) following parental ABI. The major aims were (1) to develop an understanding of the processes by which family members make sense of events, and (2) to explore the implications for adjustment in young people and their families. A Personal Construct Psychology (PCP) methodology was implemented and construal processes were identified through individual interviews facilitated by Perceiver Element Grids (PEG; Procter, 2002). The Family Assessment Device (FAD; Epstein et al., 1983) and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ; Goodman, 1997) were used to explore aspects of adjustment. Data analysis comprised of two parts; intra-family and inter-family exploration of similarities and differences in construal. The themes identified suggest that following ABI, family members may be faced with a process of reconstrual, in which they are required to assimilate new information into their construct systems, renegotiate their roles, and come to terms with loss. The research offers an insight into some of the processes that may contribute to patterns of interpersonal relating that may negatively impact on adjustment. Psychological support following parental ABI may therefore be a crucial component of supporting young people and their families through these changes whilst reducing the impact on their own psychosocial wellbeing. This research offers an insight into the experiences of three families at one moment in time. Further exploration is recommended to better inform clinical practice, and ensure that the needs of this population are not overlooked.