Completed ISA Projects




Suicidology, counselling and identity exploration: an investigation of postvention strategies for suicide survivors.

Phillip O'Keefe (MSc, University of Ulster)

This dissertation explored identity development in those bereaved by suicide of a loved one. They are known as survivors of this potentially catastrophic loss.  It was believed that a suicidal loss experience was traumatic and identity determining. Survivors were believed to be more likely to take their own lives than the general population. The impact of suicidal loss on survivors’ sense of identity was examined using Content Analysis and Identity Structure Analysis (ISA). Issues explored included survivors’ wellbeing, the meaning they attached to their loss and how it came about and personal and family aftercare. It was found that some survivors were indeed at greater risk of suicide but that effective counselling could have positive therapeutic benefits.  It was also demonstrated that survivors who successfully integrated their loss represented a potentially valuable resource in therapeutic postvention programmes.

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An exploration of former politically motivated prisoner (FPMP) identity using Identity Structure Analysis: The long-term impact of the ‘No wash/ Blanket Protest’ on how FPMP have reformulated their identity at 50 -65 years.

Joseph Barnes (MSc, University of Ulster)

It has been stated that conflict-related imprisonment in Ireland has had adverse mental health consequences for former prisoners similar to other detainees and POWs suffering forms of long-term chronic trauma (Rolston, 2011; Jamieson et al., 2010). It has also been suggested that the trauma of incarceration has not been extensively investigated (De Veaux, 2013). There has only ever been one pilot study of the psychological impact of the ‘No wash/ Blanket Protest’ (1976-1981) described by Hamber (2005) as ‘a traumatic situation’ (p.93). In essence, the ‘No wash/ Blanket Protest’ entailed a unique set of circumstances wherein trauma and identity processes interfaced for hundreds of people. Mindful that coercive captivity involving chronic trauma can result in a contaminated identity (Herman, 1992), this study explores in detail how two such former politically motivated prisoners (FPMP) who were involved in the Protest, have reformulated their identity at 50-65 years.

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Personal constructions of community safety professionals towards their work related decision making

Jeremy Warren (PhD, University of Chester, England) This thesis takes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the impact that constructions of meaning and personal identity have upon the processes of professional decision-making; in the delivery of community safety services.  The research draws upon the previous work undertaken in the fields of psychology, sociology, social anthropology, criminology and community safety.  The output from the ISA/Ipseus Instruments allowed for the development of an innovative model of professional decision-making in the context of community safety.

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Self and identity processes in higher education staff development

Prof Dorothy Marriss (PhD, University of Salford)
This thesis describes four inter-related studies that, together, explore aspects of self
and identity in relation to staff development in higher education (HE). Approaches to the exploration, understanding and measurement of self and identity are reviewed, culminating in an exposition of a comprehensive synthesising approach known as Identity Structure Analysis and its associated measuring tool Identity Exploration.
Overall the thesis has explored identity in relation to staff development, giving insights into identity formulations in relation to perceptions and aspirations both idiographically and nomothetically.

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Client suicide and clinician identity

Philip O'Keeffe (PhD, University of Ulster)

The findings of this ISA-based study demonstrated that, in the aftermath of client suicide, the response of each bereaved clinician was unique to that therapist. This tendency to respond idiosyncratically to their serious loss experience should therefore inform clinicians' education, formation, professional practice and supervision in the context of working with clients at risk of suicidal behaviour. This PhD is available to download as two volumes.  Just click on the required volume and the download will commence automatically.  Download Volume 1  Download Volume 2


Identity of Nursing students

Clare Parry (PhD, University of Chester, England )

This thesis takes an interdisciplinary approach to investigate knowledge transfer from cognitive psychology into nurse education. It specifically examined identity in the context of nurse training to explore how student nurses related to the principles of nurse education in relation to broader affiliations of their lives. This was working towards a typology of construal to explore: 1) whether students identified differently with the content of the curriculum; and 2) if this affected their learning, development and professional aspirations. The output from the ISA/Ipseus instrument allowed the development of typologies which included ‘scientific’, ‘humanistic’ and ‘holistic’ approaches to nursing. The preliminary findings of this thesis aim to guide further work in nurse education, which includes the use of an ISA/Ipseus instrument for profile matching in nursing recruitment. 

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An Exploration of the Long-Term Experience of Trauma upon Clinicians' Identity

Selwyn Black (PhD, University of Ulster)

In the 'new paradigm' of psychotraumatology, there is little research with clinicians who have themselves become traumatised as a result of their work with traumatised clients. In order to protect clients, clinicians, and the relevant professions, there is an ethical imperative to acknowledge and address the issue of clinicians' traumatic experience that emanates from working with traumatised clients.


The efficacy of community reconciliation projects for identity redefinition in young people in Northern Ireland

Fiona Bloomer (PhD, University of Ulster)

The study explored the identity redefinition of young Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, as a result of their participation in a reconciliation programme.


An exploration of the utility of Identity Structure Analysis (ISA) in the evaluation of the psychological processes underlying personality disorders

Anne Malone (BSc, University of Ulster)

This study involved an exploration of the utility of Identity Structure Analysis (ISA) in the evaluation of the psychological processes underlying personality disorders. A small-scale idiographic design was employed in order to detect the specific underlying identity processes that might be characteristic of manifestations of personality disorder in general, using a customised identity instrument.


Ethno-Religious Identities: An Identity Structure Analysis of Clergy in Ireland, North and South

Nathalie Rougier (PhD, University of Ulster)

The study investigates clergy's construal, appraisal and redefinition of ethno-religious identity in Ireland. Informed by theoretical insights from Self and Identity research, contemporary debates in the sociopsychological approach of Ethnicity and Religion - and using Identity Structure Analysis as its framework of reference.

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