A participatory research study to explore the healing potential of children's anomalous experiences

Thomas, Donna orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8232-5778 (2021) A participatory research study to explore the healing potential of children's anomalous experiences. Explore . ISSN 1550-8307

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.explore.2021.08.012


Children and young people commonly have 'positive' and 'negative' anomalous experiences that are silenced, ignored or medicalised by 'adults-in-authority'. Whether 'positive' or 'negative', anomalous experiences can catalyse self-healing for children and young people. Through children achieving greater self-awareness and a sense of intra-connectedness between self, others and the world. The study's aim was to explore the nature of self and experience with children and young people. This article focuses on one of the studies objectives: to explore with children and young people any anomalous experiences; and identify any self-reporting of healing and/or positive transformation. A participatory, qualitative approach was used to research with children and young people. Using IPA (Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis), and Critical Discourse Analysis, 20 narrative accounts and 10 visual narrative representations, from 16 children and young people who experience anomalous phenomena, were analysed and 'co-interpreted' with participants. In total, 16 children and young people (aged 4-21 years) participated in the study. Four participants had pre-existing medical conditions (Epilepsy, Narcolepsy, Caterplexy & Autism), while twelve participants had no pre-existing medical conditions. All self-reported anomalous experiences, were viewed by children and young people as carrying healing and transformational potentials - regardless of whether their experiences were 'positive' or 'negative' Healing and transformation were reported by children and young people, that included - self-withdrawal from medications; changes in attitudes and behaviours; feeling more connected to self, others and the world; enjoying life and 'knowing' self How children and young people's anomalous experiences are responded to by 'adults-in-authority' has consequences for children and young people's wellbeing. Children and young people should be included in studies that consider anomalous experiences, using research methodologies such as participatory approaches, to widen our understanding of these types of experiences. While the results show how anomalous experiences can carry healing and transformational potentials for children and young people, adults-in authority can catalyse suffering in how they understand and respond to these experiences. More research is needed and is continuing in this area. [Abstract copyright: Crown Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.]

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