Conceptualising experiences of deployment for partners of currently serving military personnel

Hassett, Charlotte (2020) Conceptualising experiences of deployment for partners of currently serving military personnel. DClinPsy thesis, University of Lincoln.

Conceptualising experiences of deployment for partners of currently serving military personnel
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Item Type:Thesis (DClinPsy)
Item Status:Live Archive


The Armed Forces Covenant (2016) proposes that serving people and their families should not be disadvantaged compared to other citizens, yet there is evidence of mental health inequalities for UK military partners, impacted on by the deployment cycle. A qualitative investigation of military partners’ experiences from the perspective of cultural, feminist, and psychological theory can inform understanding of the impact of deployment and coping styles. This understanding could inform strategies and interventions to promote wellbeing. The research aimed to construct the experiences of UK military partners in relation to all stages of the deployment cycle by drawing on pertinent existing theories of cultural psychology, feminist psychology, social identity, structural family therapy and stress appraisal. Further, cultural competence amongst health-care professionals is essential to understand the influence of military culture on partners’ mental health behaviours, help-seeking, and therapeutic relationships within clinical practice in a wide range of settings. Underpinned by a social constructionist approach, inductive-deductive Thematic Analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) was conducted on secondary data collected via open-ended online survey questions. Qualitative Responses were analysed from 388 participants; most were women.

Four themes were constructed: 1) Powerlessness; 2) Tensions between multiple identities; 3) Coping expectations and the conflicting reality; and 4) Cycling through transitions; all of which varied and changed at different stages of deployment and impacted on the military partners’ perceived wellbeing and mental health.

The influence of power within the military culture was highlighted along with the ways in which military partners perceive and are impacted upon by the multiple types of social power (French & Raven, 1959), demonstrating inequalities amongst a group of marginalised women. Military partners expressed the identities that were desired, enacted or placed upon them; the benefits of such identities but also the challenges that developed with multiple, competing or conflicting identities and associated roles. Military partners’ methods of coping varied, though the perception of coping with the threat of deployment and other, multiple transitional changes throughout the deployment cycle, appeared to contribute to a sense of psychological adjustment and wellbeing, somewhat supporting Lazarus and Folkman’s theory (1987) and structural family principles. This research offered new contributions relating to the complexity of the deployment cycle and the wider difficulties experienced by a marginalised group of (mostly) women relating to power, identity, and coping.

As such, it would be important for the military organisation to understand the impact on partners and offer more support and knowledge for military partners, potentially through information to reduce the impact of informational power on partners’ distress. Community psychology-based approaches, such as collaborative coproduction of psychoeducational information and peer support opportunities, may be beneficial in supporting the health and wellbeing of military partners. Future research should consider the effectiveness, applicability and perceived usefulness of such collaboration opportunities.

Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:47520
Deposited On:09 Dec 2021 14:46

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