A constructivist grounded theory analysis of how counselling psychologists experience anti Muslim prejudice

Bibi, Majida (2020) A constructivist grounded theory analysis of how counselling psychologists experience anti Muslim prejudice. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


Anti-Muslim prejudice (AMP) practices since 9/11, have cemented its place in history of becoming commonplace and show no signs of abating (Hankir, Ali, Siddique, Carrick & Zaman, 2019). Research since then has focussed on factors that influence and exacerbate AMP practices such as the media (Kurebwa & Muchakabarwa, 2019) and the consequences of AMP practices on the wellbeing of those directly and indirectly affected (Abu-Ras, Suárez & Abu-Bader, 2018). Research has begun to focus on how to combat AMP practice using the profession of counselling psychology in the USA (Bhattacharyya, Ashby & Goodman, 2014); which has spurred research in the UK on advocating for social justice within the profession of counselling psychology (Rhodes, 2016). However, research has recently begun to go beyond the negative outcomes of AMP practices and towards illuminating strategies to overcome AMP practices (Tahseen, Ahmed & Ahmed, 2019), yet, there seems to lack an in-depth exploration of the intricacies of these strategies and the potential outcomes of enlisting such strategies. There is also a lack of understanding in how counselling psychologists experience and manage AMP practices which could illuminate potential strategies for members of society to enlist that are of greater benefit to one's wellbeing.

The central aim of this study was to explore accounts of counselling psychologists experience of AMP practices including how and in what forms AMP practices find them and how they process, manage and approach AMP practices. The second aim was to co-construct an explanatory grounded theory of this process.

Adopting a constructivist grounded theory approach (Charmaz, 2006), this study employed purposeful sampling to recruit eight counselling psychologists and one clinical psychologist as part of theoretical sampling to refine and develop the grounded theory using semi-structured interviews.

Developed from the psychological processes that were co-constructed from the data indicated that three factors were influencing AMP practices finding participants which together increased sensitisation to experiencing AMP resulting in the experience of AMP as costing the self in two distinct ways, psycho-emotionally and systemically. The outcome of which was processed through two separate means, either through acknowledging or disconnecting from the experience of AMP. The consequences of processing AMP through those two means influenced the pathways towards managing one's experience of AMP, either through reflecting which was experienced to have benefits or deflecting pathway which was experienced to have costs. Participants outlined how a reflective pathway is built over time and with experience and due to its benefits, participants felt they underwent a positive change in their relationship to AMP practices. This stands apart from a deflecting pathway that is found to negatively re-affect participants when exposed to AMP practices.

Participants, therefore, appeared to go through a myriad of complex processes in how they experience and manage AMP practices over their lifespan both psychologically concerning their sense of self and belonging in a society that accepts and rejects them.

The findings from this study provide important insights into how counselling psychologists experience AMP practices, the changes they undergo in how they try and manage such experiences, including the rupture in relationships between colleagues, friends, family and towards their sense of self. Furthermore, the findings outline recommendations from participants and research which has shown that AMP practices cannot continue to be ignored and the need to move towards preventative and proactive measures in line with social justice work to help reduce such negative experiences from repeating for current and future generations of Muslims.

Bibi-Majida_Final-DCounPsych-thesis_21.07.2020.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 4.0.

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