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Narrative research on vicarious trauma Essay


Narrative research possesses various forms, and it is founded on various disciplines of both social and humanity. In qualitative research, the term narrative is attributed to any text used in inquiry mode, with a particular focus based on narratives told by people.

According to Pinneger and Daynes (Cited in Five Qualitative Approaches to Inquiry, 2006), narrative can be described as both a phenomenon and procedure of study. As a procedure, narrative is composed of events that occurred in life situation of people.

Understanding and analyzing of told stories have been introduced by different writers. In qualitative design, the narrative is comprehended as a spoken account detailing experiences that are connected in sequence. The method used in undertaking this research is based on attaining data from the stories told by one or two people. The data collected is later to be defined.

The various fields used for study have incorporated their own ways of undertaking the research even though the narrative research base its origins from sociology, education, history and anthropology. Interdisciplinary efforts are a crucial factor in narrative research and should be encouraged according to Josselson and Riessman (Cited in Five Qualitative Approaches to Inquiry, 2006, p. 1).

Narrative studies therefore contain a particular contextual focus that may involve either teacher or children in classroom. In addition to this, narrative may incorporate the stories told regarding organizations only that this time they may be guarded in a theoretical lens view (Cited in Five Qualitative Approaches to Inquiry, 2006, p. 3).

Types of narrative studies

Narrative analysis

Analytic strategies imply one of the ways used to differentiate the various types of narrative researches. According to Polkinghorne (Cited in Five Qualitative Approaches to Inquiry, 2006), analytic strategies are used to define the various themes that sustain stories. In narrative analysis, researchers take note of the happenings and events, and summarize them into a plot.

Chase approach to narrative research was almost similar to that of Polkinghorne, as it suggested that by paradigmatic reasoning researchers could undertake a narrative study thereby developing an interpretation of the interactive performances (Cited in Five Qualitative Approaches to Inquiry, 2006, p. 2).

Biographical study

This is a type of narrative where the researcher not only writes, but also records life’s experiences of another person. The traditional inquiry nature of biographical study involves an individual telling the researcher his life experiences, while the role of the investigator is to translate the story into text.

According to Scruggs and Mastropieri (2006), biographical study is suggested to be an axis for personal change. The various types of biographical studies include life history, oral history, individual biographies, and autobiographies.

While undertaking this type of study, the researcher involved has to explore the available written documents and records of the subject of interest and elaborate the person in terms of the different stages involved in life.

The written documents of another individual are normally brought to life in the investigator’s narrative. In addition to this, the investigator possesses the ability to indicate the already existing relationship between him and the main character (Scruggs and Mastropieri, 2006, p. 5).


Autobiography involves both the writing and recording of the experiences and events involved in the life of the subject study, which also plays the role of the writer. Here, the writer brings life to his or her own life experience by writing it down.

Oral history

In oral history, a set of activities is undertaken. Some of these activities involves gathering of personal experiences that range from one person to many people. The effects and causes of these experiences are also gathered for analysis.

Procedures for conducting a narrative research

The methods used in undertaking a narrative research are not guided by a lock up stop approach; but contrary to this, it undertakes an informal summation of topics. The procedures involved are mainly guided by the procedural guide that was used as an approach by Clandinin and Connelly.

Primarily, the researcher has to decide whether the research question is best suited for the narrative research about to be undertaken. In case the researcher intends to capture detailed life experiences, the narrative research is the best way forward especially if the research touches on individual life or collective lives of people.

The researcher then has to choose one or more persons that possess stories or experiences involved in life. On attaining the subject person, the researcher has to spend considerable amount of time with them, acquiring their life stories using multiple kinds of information. These stories have been referred to as field texts by Clandinin and Connelly.

The stories collected from the participants may be recorded in a diary or journal form. On the other hand, the researcher may alternatively use the observation method of observing the individuals and recording the field notes acquired.

In addition to this, the researchers may also use letters sent by the subject individuals, acquire information from the subject’s individual family members, obtain memos pertaining to the subject individual, or acquire photographs and the individual’s family artifacts. These resources will guide the researcher in developing a solid record of the individual’s life experiences.

Thirdly, the context information of these stories must be collected. Individual stories, for instance, are situated within the subject individual’s personal experiences that include homes or work place, one’s culture, and historical background. On attaining this, the next step is to analyze the stories acquired from the participants, and restructure them within a framework that makes sense.

The process of reorganizing the stories acquired is called restoring. The frameworks under which these stories are organized into consist of gathering stories, analyzing key elements and restructuring the stories in chronological sequence whereby, casual links are provided among the many ideas.

One of the main attributes of chronology is that the stories have the three sections that include a beginning, middle and lastly an end. Apart from this, a chronology may involve ideas from past, present, and future. Crucial elements like time, scene, and place are also included in the story line. Qualitative data analysis may be described as both the themes and story that emerge from the plot.

Finally, the researcher has to collaborate with the participants by letting them play an active role in the research. In the process of collecting stories, the researchers not only establish relationships but also offer smooth transitions between them and the participants. In this process, there is a negotiation on the definition of stories thereby validating the analysis.

The story may contain epiphanies within its context, which indicates the various turning points of the story line. In summary, the story indicates unfolding events of the individuals in a chronology based on experiences. According to Clandinin and Connolly, Narrative inquiry is described as the stories that occurred and told (Cited in Five Qualitative Approaches to Inquiry, 2006, p. 5)


Narrative research has been a challenging method to use due to characteristics and procedures attributed to it. Thorough and extensive information regarding the participant needs to be acquired first in order to have a satisfactory understanding of the subject participant.

In addition, maximum concentration is needed in order to acquire and identify the various sources materials attributed to the stories that capture the experiences of the participants. According to Edel (Cited in Five Qualitative Approaches to Inquiry, 2006), it is important to reveal the entire context of the multilayered life.

The participants stories need to be discussed extensively thereby emphasizing active collaboration between the researcher and the participant. In this active participation, political background and personal reflection are some of the attributes needed to restory the account.

In the process of collecting, telling the participant stories, and analyzing of the same stories, a number of issues are bound to occur. According to Pinnegar and Dayner (Cited in Five Qualitative Approaches to Inquiry, 2006), the owner of the story, who is responsible of telling the story, is at liberty to change it and the effects of the stories within the community we live (Cited in Five Qualitative Approaches to Inquiry, 2006, p. 5).

Narrative research on vicarious trauma Essay

In the introductory segment on vicarious trauma, the researcher defines the present day situation of effects of trauma. In the process of introducing the subject at hand, the researcher also defines the various types of trauma according to their category.

In the modern world, not only is one faced with the high chances of attaining direct trauma, but also the other categories of trauma that include historical, secondary trauma and intergenerational trauma. The mentioning of the various types of trauma introduces the topic to be researched on and provides the researcher with boundaries where the focus studies focus will be based.

The narrator introduces the effects of trauma by indicating that people with traumatic experiences are seeking solutions in therapies, family members, drugs, and alcohol. Family members and medical professions are introduced as the second set of participants.

The place of research is also introduced in the introductory segment of the narrative research. Small northern communities are defined to process limited options of solution to the traumatic experience. The North according to Berman has also the feature of geographical isolation that is also referred to as tyranny of space by social geographers.

The introduction will also incorporate experiences obtained from a nurse working in the North. It is from this experience that the researcher can base his or her story from. Apart from the nurse working in the North, the researcher introduces Neely-Price a participant whose 30 years experience in the North will proof to be of great need when bringing life to the experience in the North (O’Neill, 2008, p. 1).

Significance of the research topic

In the significance of the topic, the writer uses geographical locations and people to establish a relationship that will signify the selection of the research topic.

The geographical locations identified in the narrative research are located in the northern British Columbia and the participants are the Yukon communities and their specialists. The researcher establishes the relationship between the participants and the geographical location by indicating the long distance as the key hindrance, preventing people from accessing help on trauma issues.

In addition to this, the writer brings life to the experiences of the people living in Northern British Columbia by indicating other factor that hinder them from accessing specialists. These other factors include cultural and economic factors.

The narrator goes on to indicate the various trauma experiences that are experienced by the participants. For instance, people living in the first nation are the subjects that undergo the various kinds of trauma experiences that include historical trauma.

Oral history type of narration research will be best suited for in identifying and recording of the various experiences put forward by the participants. Maximum concentration that is required in narration research is of great importance especially when differentiating the direct and indirect psychological effect left behind by the generation ahead.

Oral history type of narrative research is also crucial in identifying the different experiences of intergenerational trauma in the non-First Nation families and First Nation families. In using the oral history narration research, the narrator will be identifying the particular context of trauma that not only affects the First Nation people, but also the non-First Nation people.

In order to accomplish this, the narrator will have to undertake gathering of personal information from the various people living in the two nations. In understanding the level of knowledge possessed by the specialist, the writer has no option but to investigate through asking question and recording the input data received (O’Neill, 2008, p. 2).

In indicating the significance of the topic, the narrator has expounded on the limited knowledge that is possessed by the practicing practitioners. The writer describes the situation as critical as helping practitioners from outside are hired for the sole reason of providing service to the community.

A relationship is said to develop between the helping practitioners and the trauma patients that results to secondary traumatic symptoms to the practitioners. The secondary traumatic symptoms are caused by repeated exposure of the practioners to the clients (O’Neill, 2008, p. 3).

In the research while defining historical trauma, the narrator uses biographical type of research. The narrator describes the experiences of a particular person (Marie yellow) and records them down. According to the narrator, it is through the concept of historical trauma that Marie yellow was able to develop her seminal work. Historical trauma is hence described as traumatic events legacy (O’Neill, 2008, p. 34).

Impetus for research

In the narrative research, the narrator has to identify the place of research study and the subject participants who will provide the necessary experience to undertake the research. In the Impetus for research, the narrator has indicated that northern helping practioners were the subject participants as they were to be used in acquiring data.

The writer has also used autobiography type of narrative research to clearly explain her own experience, having lived and worked in the North as a helping practitioner. In the autobiography type of narrative research, the narrator who is still the subject participant normally writes his or her own experiences down.

In recording the experiences, life is brought forth from the writings. In the vicarious trauma research, the researcher questions herself whether the experience acquired from the clients will be equally in order to be termed as vicarious trauma (O’Neill, 2008, p. 4).

In identifying the trauma issue affecting the workers in the First Nation community, the narrator will be undertaking the procedural path of narrative studies where one has to choose if the topic to be researched on is appropriate.

The narrator has to find one or more people whose experience would be used to write down the data achieved from the research. In the vicarious trauma research the narrators indicates the northern helping practitioners’ experiences were used to establish the link between historical trauma and vicarious trauma.

Preventing vicarious traumatization of mental health

Narrative study was used to acquire experiences from six therapists that had to respond to a given question. Incorporation of typology analysis is also crucial in analyzing of data. In this case, the formation of the question or the identification of the question helps to establish and focus on the subject at hand thereby avoiding time and resource wastage on other unnecessary activities.

Identification of the therapists to be questioned indicates the specific area of interest the narrator has zeroed in as part of potential source for extraction of experience. The risks posed by traumatized people to the practitioners attending to them is also elaborated and described clearly in every aspect.

According to the narrator, it is the practitioners’ responsibility to bear the burden of listening to the horrific events unfolding in lives of traumatized individual. The narrator goes on to mention the aftermath effects affecting the practioners that include emotional and physical symptoms similar to those of their clients (Harrison and Westwood, 2009, p. 203)

According to French, Reynolds and Swain (2001), narrative methods have gained popularity over the past decades. Narratives methods of research have been incorporated in various disciplines, which include social work and psychotherapy. In narrative researches, it is upon the researcher to be an attentive listener and the participant a storyteller instead of a respondent.

In using the narrative method of research, the agenda will be particularly to entice development and bring about change based on the narrator’s experiences. In using the various approaches of narrative research a common perception will be establish that indicate that the life we live is based on stories that shape and our identity.

In the research topic, vicarious trauma the experience attained is based on information attained from the therapists and the subject participants, this means that narrative is used as unit of an individual’s life due to its articulation and experienced. The experience of a person’s life is dependent on his or her character in the narrative thereby one can give an account of his or her experience (French, Reynolds and Swain, 2001, p. 220).


It is through narratives that isolated and oppressed people can attain the voice to challenge opposing stereo types and advance their strength. In the research the voices of the traumatized and isolated Yukon communities are voiced as the research indicates the trauma they undergo and the difficulties they face while trying to seek an audience with the practitioners.

In using of narrative research, the respondents dictate the order of experience flow to elaborate the events and actions unfolding in their lives. In understanding the research framework of narrative research, positivist researchers will not only be interested in the accuracy and truth status of the participant’s story but also the facts related to the story.

In researching the vicarious trauma using the narrative research approach the narrator will be putting in practice a life story in order to make sense of the experiences, events and actions unfolding in the lives of human beings (French, Reynolds and Swain, 2001, p. 220).


Five Qualitative Approaches to Inquiry. (2006). Five Qualitative Approaches to Inquiry. (Attachments).

French, S., Reynolds, F. and Swain, J. (2001). Practical research: a guide for therapists. MA: Reed Educational and Professional Publishing.

Harrison, R. L. and Westwood, M. J., (2009). Preventing Vicarious Traumatization of Mental Health Therapists: Identifying Protective Practices. Washington DC. American Psychological association. (Attachments).

O’Neill, L. K. (2008). The Experience of Northern Helping Practitioners. University of Victoria. (Attached material).

Scruggs, T. E. and Mastropieri, M. A. (2006). Applications of Research Methodology. CA: Elsevier Ltd.

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